Photo by: Tony Leon/ActionWestPhotography.com
BELMONT, Calif. - The Whittier College Men's Lacrosse team won a hard-fought battle against the Colorado Mesa Mavericks this past Saturday to open their 2019 schedule. The Mavericks earned a pre-season ranking of No. 10 in NCAA Div. II, and are three-time defending RMAC champions. The inter-divisional tilt was played on the campus of Notre Dame De Namur.
CMU opened the game up with a quick goal. But that lasted for only :30 seconds as the Purple & Gold tied things up on an extra man opportunity on their opening possession thanks to a behind the back goal by Sergei Jacobs (Edmonds, WA) , getting fed by Ronan Dooney (Portland, OR). On their next offensive possession, Whittier's Nate Heritage (Bellingham, WA) scored that put WC on top 2-1. By the end of the first quarter however, Colorado Mesa was able to deadlock the game at 2-2.
The Poets opened the 2nd quarter with a transition goal from defenseman Jacob Berggren (Tualatin, OR). The next time down the field the Poets extended their lead thanks to freshman midfielder Guss Simpson (Seattle, WA) who was fed by Heritage to go up 4-2. On the ensuing extra man offensive possession, Dooney stepped up again this time feeding Heritage for his 3rd goal of the game, completing the first half hat trick. The Mavericks answered back to keep it 5-3, but the Poets wrapped up the first half with Miles Moscato (Lake Oswego, OR) scoring his first NCAA goal, assisted by senior midfielder Chris Burley (San Diego, Calif.).
Out of the break the Mavericks scored to keep the game a two-goal differential at 6-4. Two possessions later though Dooney then caused a CMU turnover, while picking up the ground ball, before scoring on an open net that moved the Poets lead to 7-4 prior to the 4th quarter.
Colorado Mesa fought back in the beginning stages of the fourth quarter adding four unanswered to go on top 8-7. Whittier was able to tie things up with Dooney assisting Ryland Clay (Aurora, CO) :30 seconds later then Berggren would convert a fast break putting WC on top 9-8.
With :30 seconds left in the game, Whittier midfielder Cooper Champagne (La Mesa, Calif.) came up clutch, picking up a face-off and then feeding Clay, who shot on an empty net, as Mesa was pressuring out to regain possession. This final tally would be enough to pull off the upset.
Senior Captain Dakota Turgeon (Bellingham, WA) had the game of his career finishing with 20 saves along with a 71% save average. Senior Captain Kevin O'Donnell (Carlsbad, Calif.) won 10 of 17 face offs for a 59% FO percentage.
Billy Shaffer (Tucson, AZ) finished with five groundballs and two caused turnovers. Dooney provided a goal and three assists to go with two groundballs and two caused turnovers and Berggren added two goals with two groundballs and a caused turnover.
The Whittier College Men's Lacrosse team returns to action next Monday, March 4 when they host Emerson College beginning at 6:30pm.