The Mercyhurst Lakers men’s soccer team had a successful series for the period of Oct. 18 to 21. Not only did both games result in victories for the Lakers, neither opponent managed to get on the board in either contest. Oct. 18 saw the Lakers host the Slippery Rock Pride. The Lakers opened up the scoring with freshman Fjodor van Kippersluis successfully converting on a penalty kick.
Within the last couple minutes of the period, sophomore Connor Wilkinson booted one in to put the Lakers up 2-0. Throughout the period, the Pride was held to just one shot, while the Lakers were able to get off 10.
The Lakers increased their lead by one in the first two minutes of the second period with a goal by freshman Pablo Vela. Over the next 15 minutes, the two teams traded shots on goal. The stalemate was broken when Laker junior Michael Blancato put another in of a van Kippersluis assist. Five minutes later, junior Franco Soldati Lopez (assisted by van Kippersluis) scored the final tally of the day for the Lakers. The Pride attempted to get a last minute goal in, but the attempt fell through. On Oct. 21 the Lakers traveled to Shippensburg to face the Shippensburg University Red Raiders. Neither team managed to break into the scoring for the first period until 43:43, when junior Christopher Makengo kicked one in off of a van Kippersluis assist.
Despite only one goal being scored for the first period, the Lakers spent the next 25 minutes building their lead over the Red Raiders. The Lakers’ van Kippersluis put in two back to back while Makengo scored his 12th of the season to make the tally 4-0. “After our loss against Millersville (4-1 away), we were in a tough situation,” said Makengo. “We are defending together, we are winning together, we are not just a team but we are friends and that helps on the field.” Despite only two games left in the regular season, the Lakers sit comfortably in fourth place for the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC). “The season so far is positive because we won lot of games and we learned from each defeat,” said Makengo. “Each player knows his role on the team, everyone has his moment to shine, and it’s just the beginning. If we are playing our soccer, we can go really far this season but we have to take it game by game.”
The Lakers are 11-4 overall and have a 7-2 PSAC record. Having already clinched a post-season berth, the Lakers are in the hunt to repeat their PSAC championship win from the 2016 season. Gannon is positioned just above the Lakers with a 7-2-1 conference record, while Millersville and Lock Haven round out the top three in the rankings. The Lakers return to the turf next on Oct. 25 against California University of Pennsylvania. California currently sits in 10th place in the PSAC with a 2-7 record for the conference. “California will be a tough game because every team wants to beat Mercyhurst,” said Makengo. “We have a lot of talent on the team, and we want to show to everyone that we want to win this conference. Tomorrow is a good path to reach this goal.”