MACON, Ga. – Mercer University's men's lacrosse team – playing its inaugural season in 2011 – was finally able to notch the first-ever win in program history on Saturday, topping Carthage College (Wis.), 17-13, before 288 fans at Bear Field.
After a 0-9 start versus a highly-competitive and ambitious schedule (including a loss at defending NCAA Division I champ Duke last Sunday), the Bears were finally rewarded in the "wins" column thanks to an aggressive offense that out-shot the previously unbeaten Red Men (7-1 overall) by a 51-39 margin.
"It's great we've learned how to win," MU head coach Jason Childs said. "Winning is not something you can do just by snapping your fingers.
"The best part was that we won, but played 'ugly'. We had lots of room for improvement, yet still manufactured 17 goals…and that's a good thing."
MU scored first on a goal by Harry Baker at the 12:14 mark of the first quarter, only to have Carthage knot matters at 1-1 a little over one minute later. But Mercer would tally three-straight goals by Brett Eisenmann, Eoin Collins and Colton Mattei to go ahead, 4-1. It was a lead that MU would not relinquish.
A Red Men goal with 22 seconds left in the period made it 4-2 at the end of the first. The Bears would out-score Carthage 4-3 in the second quarter to carry an 8-5 cushion into the halftime locker room.
In the third period, Carthage got to within a single goal at 10-9 and again at 11-10. The latter was the closest CC would get as Mercer responded with four unanswered goals to put the game at a comfortable distance, 15-10, with 11:27 to play.
A quartet of Bears – Eisenmann, John Avent, Cole Branch and Collins – booked three goals, apiece. Eisenmann was also credited with three assists for a total of six points. Mattei had two goals, with Sam Grayson, Michael Emerson and Baker with one goal each.
Mercer goalkeeper Justin Bateman played all 60 minutes in the MU nets, making 13 saves. His Carthage counterpart, Spencer Curley, had 11 saves (also playing every minute for the Red Men).
"Our focus is looking forward not backwards," Childs said after the win. "Now we have to prepare for Air Force (on April 2)."