There are any number of things going through an athlete’s mind heading into a pivotal matchup. They are thinking of strategies and players to keep an eye on. The Mercyhurst men’s lacrosse team had to deal with a different adversary: buses.
The team was set to leave Thursday for the eight-hour trip to Long Island, N.Y., to play Dowling on Saturday afternoon.
However, those plans quickly changed when the school bus had mechanical problems. The next option was to leave Friday, but there were no buses in the area that could take the team.
Plan C was to put 32 players in two vans Thursday night and have them spend the night in Binghamton, N.Y. Coach Ryan and the rest of the team drove to Long Island on Friday and arrived with the rest of the team at 9 p.m.
“We had to split the army,” said Ryan. “It was uncomfortable circumstances.”
Despite the travel problems, the team came out strong against No. 3 Dowling. The Lakers took an early 3-0 lead, but it was short-lived. Dowling roared back to take a 5-3 lead.
“I had said the night before that I expected a slow start, but there was never a sense of panic on the sideline,” said Ryan. “We just wanted to circle the wagons and chip away one play at a time.”
That’s exactly what the Lakers did.
The team came back and capped it off when senior Kyle Kallay scored the game-winner with three minutes left in the game.
“Kyle got knocked out cold in the first quarter and then has the gumption to come back and win the game for us,” said Ryan. “That’s the kind of leadership we need.”
With all the problems that happened before the team even stepped on the field, the Lakers showed their toughness in the comeback.
“We were happy with the physical effort, but not the execution,” Ryan said.
The tight game came at a good time. This was their first real test of the season and will better prepare them for the impending C.W. Post match-up.
“This was a good game to go back and watch the tape and learn from mistakes,” said Ryan. “The game was played at Dowling’s pace and their conditions, but we definitely earned this one.”
This game was easily the closest of the year, their previous one being a six-goal victory over Mercy.
“All our problems came to the surface against Dowling,” said Ryan. “They exposed our weaknesses that we had gotten by with before.”
These weaknesses should be shored up just in time for C.W. Post on Saturday, March 31, at 12 p.m.