Bears End Season in 14-9 Loss Against St. Joseph's
MACON, Ga. – The Mercer men's lacrosse team started strong and finished strong as it wrapped up its second full season as a Division I program on Saturday at Bear Field, dropping a 14-9 decision to the visiting St. Joseph's Hawks.
For the second-straight game, the Bears were able to outshoot their opponent and set a season high 49 shots in the process, but could only find the back of the net nine times in the loss. The 49 shots were two off a program-high set last year in a win against Carthage.
Mercer started Saturday in promising fashion, registering the game's first goal when sophomore Sam Grayson buried an unassisted shot just under three minutes in. It was just the third time this season that the Bears were the first to score in a game and it looked like MU would carry the early momentum.
Things would go quiet for both teams however over the next nine minutes before St. Joseph's found its footing and tied up the game with the first of three goals from Augustus Quinzani. Less than 30 seconds later the Hawks took the lead for good when Ryan McGee score his first of a game-high six goals off an assist from Brian Brinkman at the 3:15 mark of the first.
Mercer kept pace however, as sophomore Brett Eisenmann took a feed from sophomore Zack Ward and buried his eighth of the year to tie the game at two. St. Joseph's closed out the scoring in the first, reclaiming the lead as Ted Hospodar scored an unassisted goal with just 48 seconds in the quarter.
Hospodar's goal started a five-goal run by the Hawks which extended their lead to 7-2 half way through the second quarter. The run put the Bears at arm's length, but MU looked to regain confidence scoring the quarter's final two goals.
Sophomore Emery Hanback and Zack Ward each found the back of the net to bring Mercer back within three before the end of the first half, 7-4. Ward finished the game with two goals and eight shots, which added to his team lead in both categories. The sophomore transfer finishes the year with 19 goals and 77 shots.
Coming out of the locker room, St. Joseph's quickly set the tempo and pushed its lead back to four after scoring back-to-back goals in the first two minutes of the third. Mercer's Cole Branch and Harry Baker got the two early goals back to again pull Mercer within three. Branch took a nice feed from Brett Eisenmann, scoring the first of his two of the day at the 12:23 mark before Baker netted an unassisted shot almost nine minutes later.
St. Joseph's again thwarted the Bears comeback hopes after reeling off four unanswered to end the third and start the fourth. Mercer went on to score three of the game's final four goals as Branch, John Avent and Zack Ward brought the final tally to 14-9.
The strong finish was indicative of the determination this young team has constantly displayed throughout the season and hopes to parlay into its promising third year under head coach Jason Childs.