While most students spent spring break catching up on sleep and Netflix, or sitting by the pool or on the beach, the men’s lacrosse team watched the campus for the rest of us. The squad witnessed the thawing of most of that brownish snow, focusing in on the game they love both on campus and in Philadelphia.
Importantly, the results from the past two weeks afford a better insight as to what the rest of the season will hold for the Cards, who are dealing with a lot of turnover from last season to this season. The boys lost two but came out victorious in three matches, pushing their overall record to 4-3 and their NESCAC record to 2-1.
They first took a long journey to Lewiston, Maine where the Cards dispatched Bates 10-7. After allowing the first goal, the Birds took a 4-2 advantage and remained at least two up throughout the contest.
Captain Matt Prezioso ’15 scored five times, equaling his career high; first-year standout Harry Stanton ’18 added two more; Captain Nate Ryan ’15 scored his first of the season and added an assist; and Jackson Arnold ’16 and Lyle Mitchell ’16 nabbed one apiece.
Four days later, the men played host to Union College, who were at that time ranked fourth in Division III. In what was a huge test of the team’s ability to compete with the best, the Cards did not disappoint.
After taking a 4-1 lead into the second period, the Cardinals allowed the Dutchmen back into the game, and by halftime, settled at 6-6. Union pressed on in the third and held a two-goal advantage entering the final act. They extended the lead to three, but the Cards fought back, knotting the game up at 10. The squads then traded goals until it was 13-all with under a minute left, after a clutch goal by Niall Devaney ’16 (his third of the day) on an assist from Stanton, who led the Birds with four goals and four assists.
Unfortunately, Union won the final face-off. After calling a timeout with nine seconds to play, they squeaked a winner as time expired on a ball that was batted in after a rebound following a save by Wesleyan netminder Justin Schick ’15, finalizing the score at 14-13 to the boys from Schenectady.
Though it proved sickening for the squad, the last-second loss showed that they could compete with the best. Mikhiel Tareen ’15, who filled The Argus in about the goings-on over break, summed up the feeling in the locker room following that game.
“It definitely stung because it was a last goal kind of rebound, but that’s a really good team, and that game easily could have gone either way,” Tareen said. “I think if we were to play them another 10 times, we would win 9 of ‘em.”
The boys got back on their NESCAC grind three days later, traveling to face Middlebury, one of the best teams in the league. Tareen explained the trajectory of that game.
“Middlebury is another really good team,” Tareen said. “We had a hard time getting the ball. They had something like 19 more possessions than us, so if you’re not getting the ball it’s obviously hard to score. It’s hard to make a run when every time they score they get the ball back.”
Indeed, Middlebury won 19 of 25 face-offs, and the final score did not reflect the Panther’s dominance throughout. To their credit, the Cards did make it interesting at the last, scoring the last three goals of the game to make the final score, much more respectably, 11-9. Also, Stanton continued his remarkable start, adding two goals and an assist.
As with the Union game, Tareen was confident that on a different day things might have gone Wesleyan’s way.
“Again, a lacrosse game can go either way, so I say give us another chance at them and it could go a different direction,” he said.
The Cards spent much of the second week in Philadelphia, where they faced off against Franklin and Marshall College, and then Whittier College.
Franklin and Marshall started the season ranked highly, but quickly fell off, and the Cards dispatched them 12-6, blowing the game open with eight goals in the third period.
“Our offense really came to play that day, and they went off in the second half, and the defense did their job the whole game, so it was kind of easy to handle,” Tareen said.
Stanton and Prezioso continued hoarding goals, scoring three each. After the onslaught, Head Coach John Raba was able to include lots of his younger squad players, making this truly a banner day for the whole team.
Four days later, the boys returned to the field in Philly to face Whittier, who had traveled from California and about whom Tareen and the boys knew little.
“We were a little surprised by how good they were,” he said.
The boys labored to an ultimately comfortable 13-8 victory, but the game was trickier than expected.
“They were definitely better than we anticipated and they had a couple of really good kids, but overall our team just had more depth and more talent,” Tareen said.
This past Wednesday, the team recorded its third win in a row against Western Connecticut State University, shellacking its interstate foes 20-4. It was raining goals on a dreary night on the turf. Jackson Arnold ’16 ripped four to push his impressive tally to nine; Ryan had a hat trick, and Prezioso tallied five assists
Tareen has been particularly impressed with Arnold’s play this season.
“He is kind of having a breakout year; he’s got a bunch of goals, and has gone from not having much of a role to being really big for us,” he said. “He’s huge. He’s like a linebacker. You can’t stop him.”
Prezioso and Stanton also seem to be in a friendly competition for the leader in points. As of this writing, Prezioso’s tally stands at 20 goals and 13 assists and Stanton has netted 17 times and recorded 9 assists.
Tareen is pleased with the situation the team finds itself in after eight games.
“Overall, we’re a really young team,” he said. “We have a lot of seniors playing, but we also have a lot of freshmen that get time and get looks. Defensively speaking, I’m the only one who is returning at close defense. So we have a bunch of new guys coming in and some people who moved around positions, so I think we’re still figuring stuff out, or at least we were, and so we’re only on the up and up. We’ve definitely had some losses, but they’ve been close and that’s sports. You’re going to lose games you’re supposed to win, and you’re going to win games you’re supposed to lose, and that’s just how it is. I don’t think anyone’s panicking. Our coach says it’s never as bad as you think and it’s never as good as you think, so I think we’re right where we should be, and definitely improving.”