LOCK HAVEN - It will be Mercyhurst College meeting the winner of the West Chester-Bloomsburg match for the PSAC lacrosse championship this afternoon at Charlotte E. Smith Field. Game time for the title tilt is set for 1 p.m.
Mercyhurst outscored Lock Haven 7-1 over the final sixteen minutes of their contest with LHU to turn an 8-3 deficit into a 10-9 win Friday afternoon.
In the second game, Bloomsburg led West Chester by a 7-3 count with 15:25 left in the opening half before Mother Nature forced a weather delay of more than four hours. The game was still in progress at The Express deadline time.
Lock Haven’s Chelsea Borrino shoots the ball over Mercyhurst’s Kelly Palmer Friday afternoon at Charlotte Smith Field. Below, Lock Haven’s Kate Smyth drives around a Laker defender. For more photos, see cu.lockhaven.com.
For Mercyhurst, the win over LHU was something they had worked hard for according to head coach Cecil Pilson.
"The women went out there today and showed a lot of heart," Pilson said. "We were down by five goals at one point and they didn't let the five-goal deficit affect them. They just kept working hard and chipping away until they were on top at the end of the game."
For Lock Haven it was a frustrating way to see its season come to a close.
"We have been stressing all year long that we have to play a full sixty minutes," LHU head coach Kristin Selvage said. "Today we played forty minutes and let the other team have the rest of the game. It is a hard lesson to learn, especially since it is your last game of the season. It is a tough loss and it is something these players are going to have to wrap their heads around."
The Lady Eagles suffered a key injury early in the second half of the game when Emily Cilla left the game.
"When we lost her, that was a big loss for us," Selvage said. "She was winning almost all of the center draws for us which means someone had to step up and take over that role and it didn't happen. They (the LHU trainers) couldn't get the bleeding under control and with her loss, that kind of changed our momentum in a direction that we didn't want it to go."
The first half was a low-scoring thirty minutes as The Haven held a 5-2 lead.
The Lady Eagles scored three of the first four goals of the second half to go up by five (8-3) before the roof began to crumble.
"I think they tired out and they weren't playing smart," Selvage said about the offensive drought and the lack of defense. "It was sort of like we thought we had the game in hand and they didn't control it the way they should have. We thought we had a team that was prepared for all types of situations, but when Mercyhurst brought pressure and today, we just couldn't handle it."
Able to only score one goal in the final 24 minutes of the game and unable to hold off the hard-charging Lakers, the roof finally collapsed on LHU with less than four minutes left on a goal by Kayla Minner.
So what was the difference between the regular season game that resulted in a lopsided LHU win and the yesterday's contest?
"The defense has really picked it up since the last time we played them," said Pilson. "In our previous game, we got blown out by them, but we made a lot of adjustments coming into this game and watched a lot of film and that really helped."
One of the big reasons for Hurst's comeback was the offensive play by Rebecca Himes in the final period. During the Hurst explosion, Himes scored three of her four goals to lead the Lakers to the win.
"Rebecca is a freshman from Baltimore and she has come up big in a lot of our recent games," Pilson said. "In the first game with them (LHU), we only scored five goals and she had four of them and today, she scored four more goals. We had a lot of other helpers today, but she (Himes) has done a really great job for us."
Himes explained how she was able to pick up her game in the second half.
"I had a lot of momentum going in, but I had a little bit of a setback in the first half that I really couldn't get myself out of," Himes said. "I talked to a couple of the upperclassmen and coach McDonald, took a little bit of a break and got myself together. Our sideline got really hyped up and that really got into me, knowing that everybody else had my back."
As for facing the huge deficit, Himes said although they were down, it wasn't like the first meeting. This time, they battled back.
"Even though we were down 5-2, we felt that we were still in it because the first game with them, it was a blowout," Himes said. "We just said, hey, we have nothing to lose so let's just go out there and play hard. When we got down 8-3, some of our heads started to hang a little bit, but that is when we called a timeout, reminded each other that we worked so hard all year for this game and that is when we came together as a unit and it paid off for us."
Although LHU loses nine seniors, there is no reason to panic or jump off a cliff because a lot of the underclassmen had the opportunity to pick up valuable playing time for next season.
"We have nine significant seniors and they meant quite a bit to the success of this team," Selvage said. "We lose two low defenders, two midfielders, three attackers and two goalkeepers. We pretty much seniors spread out all over the field."
Any reason for Selvage and her assistants to be concerned?
"Does that (losing nine seniors) worry me? Not really," Selvage said. "We have already started to train the younger ones to play at a higher level next year plus we have ten freshmen coming in. This senior class certainly didn't falter for me in their first three years because they won three conference titles in a row. But when they fell, they fell hard this season. For us to have six losses is just not common to a Lock Haven team. We'll go back to the drawing board and the first thing we have to do is get over it (the loss) and start looking at the positives."