ATLANTA, Ga. – Mercer sophomore goalkeeper Mike Nugent made 16 saves in a return to his hometown as the men's lacrosse team dropped a neutral site meeting with Bellarmine, 13-6 on Saturday afternoon at Milton High School.
Mercer completed its regular season with a 7-6 record, while Bellarmine jumped to 7-5 overall.
Bellarmine placed 29 of its 51 shots on goal and held Mercer scoreless for over 27 minutes of game time between the second and fourth quarters en route to the win. The Bears fired 36 total shots in the loss, with 21 landing on-goal.
Baxa scored the game's first goal at the 11:26 juncture of the first quarter, but the Knights retaliated with five unanswered scores to go ahead by four midway through the second quarter.
Branch scored twice in an 85-second span to trim the deficit to 7-4 before the half, but the Knights clamped down and held the Bears without another goal until the fourth quarter. Baxa and freshman Anssi Kaisalmi scored the game's final two goals, but their effort wasn't enough to complete the comeback.
Junior faceoff specialist Justin Evans won 14-of-23 faceoffs while also collecting five ground balls in the losing effort. As a team, the Bears finished with a 32-22 advantage in ground balls.
Mercer returns to action hosting the Atlantic Sun Tournament on May 1st-3rd. The top-seeded Bears are set to take on Richmond in the first round at 7 p.m. on Thursday.