The Mules have lost two close games to start the 2021 season

In their season opener on Feb. 15, Muhlenberg men’s lacrosse posted a dominant 15-4 win over Fairleigh Dickinson University at their campus in Madison, N.J. The Mules accrued a 5-2 lead in the first quarter and didn’t look back, scoring three, three and four goals in the next three quarters respectively, while shutting out the FDU Knights in the middle two quarters.

 Saturday’s game seemed to be won and lost in the face-off X with Muhlenberg coming away with 15 of 22 face-offs, 11 of which were posted by Matt Burke ‘21. 

When asked about what allowed the Mules to compete so well in this early season outing, defenseman Jacob Whittingslow ‘20 responded, “Our defense is very strong, and we have a great goalie in Garrett Pope [‘20], so we are able to limit the other team’s offense pretty well.” 

Defenseman and captain Matt Hager ‘21 added, “I thought we did a great job communicating throughout the game. Typically, the first few games are tough in terms of having proper communication and clicking as a team, but I feel like our communication on Saturday was fantastic nonetheless.”

 On the offensive side, Whittingslow cited the team’s proficiency in transition for creating scoring opportunities. “Offensively, we did a good job capitalizing on unsettled situations and scoring in transition.” The senior captain was not all praise, as he noted some adjustments the team has to make as they move into their next game. “Things we could improve upon are limiting turnovers and penalties,” Whittingslow said simply. 

The early season success could in part be due to the high intensity at which the Mules practice to better prepare them for in-game situations. According to Hager, the Muhlenberg coaching staff stresses the importance of intensity to maximize the team’s time on the practice field. “The season can be very long and demanding, but if we’re able to keep practices intense despite this, we will get the most out of the work that we’re putting in,” Hager said.

 With a long season ahead and tough competition on the schedule, Whittingslow noted head coach Jake Plunket’s emphasis on improvement. “Coach Plunket keeps communicating to us that there are always things that we can improve upon, so we just need to take it one step at a time as we attempt to be playing our best lacrosse once we get into conference play,” said Whittingslow.

The 2019 squad struggled with in-conference competition posting a 3-5 Centennial Conference record; however, the 2020 team has three All-Centennial Conference selected players, and one player who received an honorable mention. With a strong team returning and a host of freshman talent, men’s lacrosse looks poised to make a playoff run in 2020.

 The Mules face a tough road ahead, with four out of eight conference opponents ranked in the top 20 of pre-season Division III polls. Undeterred by preseason rankings, the group seems determined to shake things up. Whittingslow expressed the excitement of their capable team as the season ramps up. 

“This team knows that we can be a part of something special, as we have a close group of talented lacrosse players,” Whittingslow said. “The goal is to be in the top four spots in the conference so we can have a chance to take home the Centennial Championship.”

An 11-point scoring differential in the opening game of the season is a big win for Muhlenberg, but according to Hager, the team isn’t letting it go to their heads. “Our mindset is to keep focused only on our next outing and not worry too much about the future of the season. We can only worry about our very next opponent.” 

Men’s lacrosse plays their next game on Saturday, Feb. 22 at Scotty Wood Stadium against an 0-1 University of Scranton team. The Mules have plenty of time to sharpen up before facing their first in-conference competition on Mar. 25, a home game against Haverford College.

+ posts


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here