Excellence. Something that the men’s lacrosse team has been far from in past seasons, yet it’s what the squad has experienced so far this year. After going 8-0 in their first eight contests, the Mules put together the best start in the program’s history. They were the only undefeated team remaining in the Centennial Conference and received votes in the D3 National Rankings.
In addition, they also tied the school record of eight straight wins. After going 2-12 in 2017, the team has already more than doubled last season’s win total, and has more victories than the last two years combined.
The men’s latest victories came in the form of a 16-2 thrashing of local rival Moravian on St. Patrick’s Day, and 15-2 win over FDU-Florham. Against Moravian, forward Scott Fayan ‘20 led the Mules with four goals on just four shots while goalie Garrett Pope ‘20 recorded nine saves and gave up just one goal in 40 minutes of play. The starting defense combined to completely stifle the Greyhounds offensive attack, holding them to just 13 shots on goal throughout the night.
The team’s sixth win came in a hard fought, snowy battle against Drew on Mar. 14. As the game wore on, snow began to accumulate on the field and pace of play slowed down significantly. After conceding an early 1-0 lead, the men rattled off eight unanswered goals, while holding Drew scoreless for the next 52 minutes.
In that time, Pope racked up 11 saves, reaching double digits in saves for the fourth time in the team’s seven games. With the Mules leading 2-1 with 5:55 remaining in the first quarter, Ethan Grossman ‘21 netted his second goal on the night. Niko Del Moro ‘18 followed it up with a goal of his own, and Declan Moylan ‘20 tacked on another to make it three goals for the men in just 3:16 to make it 5-1.
An early highlight to the season came at home against Scranton on Feb. 24, in the team’s third game of the year. Trailing by a pair of goals with just 4:17 remaining in the contest, the men scrapped a pair of goals from Jack Colt ‘20 and Bobby McLoughlin ‘20 together to tie the game. Then, with just 1:32 left on the clock, Nate Emrick ‘21 netted his second goal on the night, giving the Mules a thrilling 9-8 victory. That win served as a momentum booster for the team, and the men rode that momentum all the way to 8-0.
Going into conference play, the Mules were riding high. And though they dropped their first two Centennial contests to tough opponents in Haverford and Gettysburg, 11-9 and 18-11 respectively, the team is still optimistic about its chances going forward. “Although we were excited about the outcome of our out of conference success, in-conference is a chance to prove how talented and well-coached we actually are,” said defenseman Joey Goret ‘20. “We’re looking forward to the challenge of nationally ranked teams and hope to get our first conference win in a couple years.”
The energy surrounding this team is far different from years past. A big part of that is a freshman class that as a whole has been stellar in their first year of play. After last season, the roster and starting lineup received a lot of new blood. The turnover has certainly paid off, as the Mules are producing more consistently offensively than they have for years.
As for the defense, they couldn’t ask for more. Pope has been a steady hand between the pipes, while the defense has stymied opponents’ attacks. The men have their sights on the program’s first winning season in years, and a possible conference tournament berth.
With six conference games remaining, the Mules are looking to get hot again at the right time. Their next matchup will come at home against Swarthmore on Apr. 11. “We’re looking forward to our remaining conference games as opportunities to finally get that elusive conference win,” Goret said.