The men’s lacrosse team got its season off to a good start over spring break with a successful four-game stretch.
The Bulldogs (3-1, 1-0 Ivy) dropped their home opener to Drexel 10-8 March 3, but rebounded and won their next three games, including their first Ivy League match against No. 14 Pennsylvania (1-2, 0-1) Saturday. The team also won its two spring break trip games in Boca Raton, Fla., 11-10 over Lehigh (1-3) and 14-8 over Colgate (0-4).
The Bulldogs crushed the Quakers 13-8 at Franklin Field in Philadelphia. The Quakers were the toughest competition of the four opponents thus far this season.
Against Pennsylvania, the Bulldogs, who were not ranked as of March 12, showed they could play with and beat top-20 teams. The team will take that confidence into its upcoming games against No. 16 Cornell and No. 2 Princeton.
“We really aimed for this game,” head coach Mike Waldvogel said. “Every one of the guys played with intensity, intelligence and desire. It was perfect.”
Team captain Pat Hein ’01 agreed with his coach.
“The Penn game was a crucial game,” Hein said. “Everything jelled.”
After their preseason absences, Brian Hunt ’02 and Ryan Floyd ’03 bolstered the Bulldog attack with their returns from injuries. Hunt, a preseason All-American prediction, scored 10 goals and provided 11 assists in the four games. Both Floyd and Hunt scored four goals apiece against Colgate.
“As a unit, we are playing great,” Floyd said. “Hunt is playing well on and off the ball. He’s playing very unselfishly.”
In addition, Mike Scaglione ’03 made significant offensive contributions, highlighted by his four-goal efforts against both Lehigh and Pennsylvania. Scaglione also had two goals and assists against Drexel.
“Right now our offense is just clicking,” Scaglione said. “My goals are a product of six guys working together well.”
Marko Lujic ’02 showed leadership in the midfield as well. In addition to his combined eight goals and three assists since March 3, he made an outstanding impact against Pennsylvania, scoring three goals and acting as a central playmaker.
“Marko has been creating and dodging really well,” team captain Pat Hein ’01 said. “His shot’s been on.”
On the other side of the field, the Eli defense improved upon the shaky start it had against Drexel throughout its spring break.
“Against Drexel we showed our immaturity, and we are working on lessening those mistakes,” Hein said. “Individually guys are playing well, but it’s always a question as to whether we are working well together.”
The team played well together against Pennsylvania when the Bulldogs shut down the Quaker offense early, holding the them to two goals midway through the fourth quarter. Starters Bryan Corey ’01, Michael Rafalko ’02 and Noah Glass ’03 anchored the defense with consistent performances.
Eric Wenzel ’03 gave four stellar performances in net. He totaled 55 saves over the four games, with a season high 17 saves against Lehigh.
Wenzel made 12 saves against Pennsylvania with three goals against before being replaced by Adam Oppenheimer ’02.
Wenzel said he has seen steady improvement over spring break, culminating in the Pennsylvania upset.
“It’s the first time all year the offense and defense clicked,” he said. “It was an overall great effort. We made fewer mistakes and capitalized off of Penn’s.”
According to Waldvogel, the Bulldogs also made steady improvement in winning face-offs, mentioning that Tucker Foote ’02 has helped the team by gaining control of the ball. Face-offs were a weak link in the 2000 campaign, so the team focused on improving in this area during the last four games.
The performances over spring break provide momentum for the Bulldogs as the team heads into the toughest part of its season. In the next three weeks, the Elis will face Ivy League rivals No. 16 Cornell, No. 2 Princeton and No. 12 Brown.
“The next three games are the hardest part of the season,” Hein said. “Looking ahead, it’s a matter of trying to build on the Penn game. It’s a matter of going out with the same intensity and executing [and of] getting rid of a lot of mistakes.”