The Muhlenberg men’s lacrosse team won its first Centennial Conference game in four years with a thrilling 10-9 home win against Swarthmore.
Muhlenberg, picked to finish last in the Centennial Conference by the Centennial Conference coaches poll quickly exceeded expectations during their non-conference slate. After winning their fifth game of the season, which set a program record for best start to a season, the Mules began to receive votes in the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association poll for the first time in ten years.
Their win streak extended to eight games after they won their final non-conference game against FDU-Florham and they tied the 2008 team for the program’s longest winning streak during a season.
The Mules were looking to extend their winning streak to nine game as they opened up Centennial Conference play against Haverford. Despite making an excellent comeback effort in the final minutes of the game, the Mules winning streak came to an end with an 11-9 loss. The following game came against conference power Gettysburg, who was ranked number four at the time.
“I think our players believe that they are a good team and we have had multiple players step up in big moments to help win games” – Jake Plunket, Head Coach
The Mules were competitive throughout the game against the Bullets, but Gettysburg ultimately pulled away in the fourth quarter 18-11.
Last Wednesday, the Mules returned back to Scotty Wood Stadium to face Swarthmore under the lights in hopes of winning their first Centennial Conference game since 2014. The Mules came out of the gates dominating the first quarter, scoring the first five goals of the game and not allowing the Garnet to score.
In the Second quarter, the Garnet stormed back scoring four consecutive goals and cutting the Mules lead to just one. However, Scott Fayan ‘20 scored two goals to give the Mules a little more breathing room going into halftime.
No lead was safe in the second half for the Mules as each time the Mules started to pull away, Swarthmore responded quickly with goals of their own.
Late in the fourth quarter it was Niko Del Moro ‘18 scoring a goal after receiving a pass from Ethan Grossman ‘21 that helped pad a 10-8 Mules lead with just over three minutes to play. The Garnet scored one final goal, but it was too little too late and the Mules secured a 10-9 victory, their first Centennial Conference win since 2014. In the locker room Head Coach Jake Plunket reflected on the incredible impact the senior class has made to the program. “My first thoughts went out to the seniors: Joey Hess, Niko Del Moro, Dylan Moyer, Lance Gibson, Brian Lafond, and Uncle Will Edwards (student coach). These young men have put blood, sweat and tears into Muhlenberg Lacrosse for the past four years,” Plunket said. “They have seen a lot of friends come and go over the last couple seasons and they have stuck together through some tough times. Through it all, they have managed to remain positive, stay together and battle through adversity for the sake of the program. I am extremely grateful for these young men and proud of the work they have put in to elevate our program in 2018.”
Coming off an emotional and hard fought win on Wednesday, the Mules took the field at Scotty Wood Stadium on a beautiful Saturday afternoon to face another Conference foe, McDaniel. The Mules jumped out to a 5-1 lead in the first quarter and never looked back winning the game 16-7. Grossman led the way on offense scoring his thirty-first goal of the season and added three assists. Frankie Feaster ‘20 was dominant in the faceoff X winning 17 out of 24 faceoffs and goalie Garret Pope ‘20 nearly matched a personal career high with 17 saves.
After winning the Swarthmore game, the Mules had a lot of momentum going into the game against McDaniel, believing that they would win another conference game and using their depth to their advantage in the win. “We have a lot of talent and depth this season and have teammates that believe that they can win a big game. I think our players believe that they are a good team and we have had multiple players step up in big moments to help win games,” Plunket remarked.
Going forward the Mules have four remaining games, the next three being on the road. Their first road game is against Washington on Apr. 17, whom the Mules are currently tied for fourth with in the Centennial Conference standings. Then they travel to number twelve Dickinson on Saturday and close out their road trip at Ursinus.
Plunket says that the Mules are remaining confident as they gear up the final stretch of the season. “We plan to stay focused, watch film and prepare for our upcoming opponents. The game plan remains the same each week and we realize the challenges that we have ahead — a couple of nationally ranked opponents and a few national contenders remain the focus and an exciting opportunity for us.”
With their deep and talented roster, the Mules are looking to continue their Centennial Conference win streak and make a push to the Conference playoffs.