I will begin on this past Thursday. I was happy to sit down in the afternoon and watch the Mercyhurst Lakers take on crosstown rival, Gannon in their season opener. It was never really much of a game as the Lady Lakers cruised to a 17-3 victory at home. I was struck by how small of a squad Gannon had, with what appeared to be only one substitute. Whereas, Mercyhurst fields a small army. It was great to see lacrosse being played live on Tullio Field, once again (though of course, I would have preferred to have been there in person). It was cool seeing Diana’s younger teammates, who are now the leaders of the team. It was weird seeing someone other than Diana wearing #11 for the Lakers. Though they coasted, I thought Mercyhurst was sloppy with the ball and not as stout in the defensive end, as they will need to be when they face higher caliber opponents.
On Friday afternoon, I tuned in to a streamed production of Quinnipiac at home against Conference rival, Canisius. I was excited to see two former FLG Players/Coaches, Desiree Kleberg and Kat Henselder. It was a hard fought battle that was not really decided until the last several minutes. I could not have been happier with the way Des and Kat played. Des was electric with the ball, scoring three goals and assisting on another. And Kat was spectacular in goal, while making twelve saves, as the Bobcats came away with a 13-10 win.
Friday Night it was time for a marquee match up between second ranked Syracuse and fifth ranked Notre Dame, inside the Carrier Dome. This game lived up to its billing, and was a pleasure to watch, a shining example of women’s lacrosse at its best. Both teams are very athletic and highly skilled, with no real weaknesses. The physicality, tenacity and high pressure defense was so impressive. Equally impressive was the Syracuse up top weaving motion offense. They move the ball so quickly and have so many players with great vision and creativity – it can really be a thing of beauty. Notre Dame fought to the end but it was the Orange who were victorious by a final score of 18-14.
Thanks to Covid scheduling, they got to do it again today! I watched this one as well, albeit while also watching Mercyhurst play its “Senior Day” Game against Walsh. This time ND broke on top and held a 7-2 lead, before Syracuse began an impressive comeback! Once again, the weaving offense was ultimately too much for Notre Dame, despite a great game from their Goalie. In the end it was SU overcoming the slow start, to win by a score of 15-12. Both teams are loaded and capable of making a Memorial Day Weekend Run toward a National Championship.
Yesterday, Debi and I went out to the Makamah Nature Preserve in Fort Salonga for a three plus mile hike through the beautifully wooded hills. The fairly steep inclines made for a pretty rigorous trek, so even though it was in the low thirties, we were able to stay warm. This was the first time we had ever gone to this place, even though we have both been driving past it for many years. I don’t know how long it has been a Preserve with a Hiking Trail, but I am glad we finally decided to check it out. We did not cover it all, so we are already looking forward to getting back there.
I mentioned earlier, how I watched two games at once today, and I described the Syracuse vs. Notre Dame rematch. In the other game Mercyhurst triumphed over Walsh University 17-10. It was Senior Day and though there were no spectators in attendance, there was a moving halftime ceremony. Each of the Seniors read aloud, a letter from their parents which were all wonderfully heartfelt, and then thanked their families, teammates, coaches etcetera. I was happy that they were able to do something, which is better than what happened to last year’s Seniors. I appreciate now, more than ever, the magic from Senior Day 2019.
Though I was unable to watch, Mercyhurst played a second game today! They went to 3-0 on this young season, with a 18-7 win over D’Youville College. I am really pulling for the Lakers to have a great season and look forward to seeing them play again, soon.
I will end this one, and leave you with a few last thoughts. Every year the level of play is better than the year before. Rules changes, better trained and more experienced players taking full advantage of advancements in equipment have made the game faster, higher scoring and more exciting. I have been very impressed with the way the Coaches and their Teams have handled this most difficult past twelve months, and you can sense their gratefulness and joy to be back at it.