MACON, Ga. – Mercer freshman attackman Chris Baxa's five goals weren't enough to stop the Marquette men's lacrosse team from claiming a 14-11 comeback victory over the Bears at the Moye Lacrosse complex on Tuesday afternoon.
Mercer saw its two-game winning streak snapped and fell to 3-3 while Marquette improved to 2-2 on the year.
"It was a game of runs," Mercer head coach Kyle Hannan said. "We did good things and had a three goal lead, but then we couldn't stop them from getting back in it. We were up three with 21 minutes to play, and they completely took the game over. Their effort was much stronger than ours and their execution was better than ours."
After Marquette scored the game's first goal, the Bears ripped off four-straight tallies to stake a 4-1 lead after the first quarter. Mercer junior attackman Zack Ward scored the final two goals in that stretch, both assisted by Baxa.
Midway through the second period, the Bears led 6-3 when the Golden Eagles began a stretch of three unanswered scores to tie the game for the second time. Baxa would close the period with two straight goals, however, to send Mercer to halftime leading 8-6.
Mercer's lead jumped to 10-7 in the third quarter before the Golden Eagles posted six-straight scores to take a commanding 13-10 lead with 2:11 left in regulation. Each team would add one more tally before the final buzzer, as the Golden Eagles closed the contest on a 7-1 scoring run.
Baxa's seven points, five goals and two assists were all season-highs for the Owings, Maryland native. He also finished with a collegiate best four ground balls in the loss. Mercer came away with advantages in both shots on goal (25-18) and shots off goal (17-10) in the loss.
Ward registered four goals, while junior midfielder Eoin Collins added two scores of his own. Sophomore midfielder Justin Evans won 19-of-28 faceoffs and tied freshman goalie Mike Nugent for the team lead in ground balls (7). Nugent also registered 11 saves while playing the entire 60 minutes between the pipes for Mercer.
"There were bright spots for us, and aside from the guys scoring, there are other players who are doing the dirty work for us that goes unnoticed," Hannan said. "I think freshman midfielder JT Del Tufo is quietly having an unbelievable season. As a team, we'll need to continue to work and learn because we play a great opponent in four days."
The Bears will return to action at Bellarmine on March 16. Game time at Owsley B. Frazier Stadium is set for 1 p.m.