We had a great dinner at the Shorline Bar and Grille, Friday Night. I had Blackened Walleye for the first time – delicious! We then hung out at the bar with fellow Long Island, Laker families, the Boettchers and the Murphys. We all enjoyed the company, but the conversation was focused on the upcoming, Senior Day contest against the East Stroudsburg Warriors!
Saturday morning (yesterday), Debi, Dorothy, Jay and I had a terrific breakfast at Dave’s Diner. We would need the fortification, for the game and festivities to come!
We arrived extra early at Mercyhurst, to do what we could to help in the Senior Day festivities preparation. The energy among the Laker Nation, was palpable, as the pre-game progressed. John Meegan and I were interviewed by the legendary voice of the Lady Lakers, Ed Greenway, just prior to all of the families of the Senior players, being called onto the field. It was great to be part of this. My emotions were brimming over, as Judy Rescott sang the National Anthem.
Okay, Let’s talk about the Game! ESU has been ranked in the top ten the entire season. They went to the NCAA Final Four last year, and they sat atop the PSAC standings, a great place to be, as the season’s end draws near, as every team wants to host the PSAC Championships. But, the Lady Lakers really came to play, yesterday. From the onset, the intensity was extremely high on both sides. Mercyhurst seemed to draw on the energy of a large and boisterous crowd. It was immediately apparent that goals were going to be at a premium, in this game. Every possession seemed critical. All of the little things were going to matter, groundballs, clears, caused turnovers, draws and of course Goalie play (never a little thing, in a big game). It was 3-3 at the half! The Warriors opened up a two goal lead at 6-4, but the Lakers showed their “Grit”, fighting back to tie it up again, before taking their first and only lead of the game at 7-6 with just over two minutes to play! The final two minutes and even moreso, the final 33 seconds (after ESU’s final Timeout), were filled with high emotion and drama as the Lakers defended ferociously, and came away with a resounding triumph! This felt like the biggest victory on Tullio Field since the PSAC Championship Game in 2016 – it was the return of the MOJO, the Laker Magic, was back!
I did not think anything could match the emotion and energy of the game. I was wrong. The post game Senior Day festivities in the Student Union were truly amazing! I was brought to the verge of tears, several times. The underclassmen presented a wonderful slideshow, and there were several captivating speeches (none more moving than that of the Lakers’ Number 1 Fan, Marco!). The tremendous outpouring of love, camraderie and team spirit, in the form of gifts and words, and of course, food – was a living definition of what it means to be part of the Laker Nation – the Laker Family!
After the Senior Day celebration at the Union, Debi and I made our way to “The Stone”. There, we happily found the Lawsons and the Andersons, as well as Gabby Gravino. If you remember the first installment of this Blog, I credited the Andersons and Lawsons for inspiring me to attend all of the games this year. So it was almost poetic, to be able to share such a great day with them! Thank you to them for making the trip and being part of Senior Day, keeping the connection to the success of the past, alive! And Thank You to the entire Laker Family for everything you have all done, for these past four years – but especially, for yesterday! And last but not least, Thank You to the Lady Lakers – That is how you do Senior Day!