FOR THE QC
This previous weekend, the Whittier College’s Men’s Lacrosse team opened up their 2017 campaign for the NCAA Division III National Tournament against two Division II schools.
Last season under Head Coach Brian Kelly, the team went 8-6 and earned a bid to the National tournament, where they were eliminated in the first round. The team graduated a lot of seniors and even lost their leading scorer from last season. “I feel good,” Kelly said about this year’s campaign. “It’s a good opportunity for us to get out there against some really quality opponents.”
The Poets kicked off the weekend opening up against the Colorado Mesa University Mavericks on Saturday, Feb. 11. The Mavericks took the early lead, scoring one goal in the first quarter and two in the second.
Coming out of the locker room, the Poets regained momentum by scoring three goals that came from the sticks of the all first-year attack line of Evan Price, Nate Heritage, and Ryland Clay. However, the Mavericks were able to match all three of those goals and entered the fourth leading trailing by a score of 6-3.
Not wanting to be scribbled out by the Mavericks, the Poets scored four goals: one each from senior Nick Hernandez and sophomore Chris Burley, and two from sophomore Ashton Pieris. Despite the late rally, the Mavericks were able to hold on as they gave the Poets their first loss of the season with a score of 9-7. Goalie Alex Cramer saved 15 of the 24 shots taken on him.
The next day, the Poets were determined to come back from their first loss as they went into their game against the Argonauts of Notre Dame de Namur University. Whittier struck first, as Pieris scored the only goal of the first quarter in a slow-paced start to the afternoon. As soon as the second quarter began, the Poets offense clicked and immediately got to scoring. Whittier went on to score four goals in the second quarter, coming from Heritage, Clay, Pieris, and senior mid-fielder Nick Angileri.
By halftime the Poets were leading by a score of 5-3. The Argonauts scored first in the second half, but that was the only amount of offense they could muster as the Poets went back to back to back, including Burley, Angileri, and senior defensive pole Alex Hernandez.
The Poets continued to roll in the fourth quarter, adding Price and junior Connor Sexton to the goal column, and Angileri adding his third goal of the game for the hat trick. Face-off specialist first-year Cooper Champagne won 10 of the 17 face-offs. The team successfully cleared the ball down field 100 percent of the time, a perfect 12-12.
After this weekend, the team stands at an even 1-1 record, and is currently taking a three-week break before they come back in March to play the rest of their season. Kelly expressed his confidence in the team’s ability to perform during the early stages of the season. “I thought it was just a really good opportunity for our guys to get out there and compete,” said Kelly. “Go full field and play against someone else, and really give us a good idea of what we need to work on in the next three weeks before we hit Texas.”
The Poets will return to action on March 3 and 5 when they travel to Texas to play Milwaukee School of Engineering and Southwestern University.