Sometime in the afternoon on Tuesday, after much deliberation, I decided to make the drive up to Erie, Pennsylvania for the Mercyhurst Lakers, Women’s Lacrosse Game against Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP), on Wednesday afternoon. I have been eyeing their schedule, all season long, hoping to be able to make it to one of their games. Mercyhurst is allowing a limited number of pre-registered spectators, so I made sure to get myself on that list. Other than the youth games I have coached, I have not been a spectator at a game since March of 2020. I woke easily and early, Wednesday morning and was on the road by about 5:30am.
The early start along with the Covid reduced volume of traffic, allowed for a super smooth drive. I listened to a long episode of the Spitten Chiclets Podcast (an interview of Islander great, Bryan Trottier) and then an Interview of Charlotte North (Boston College Women’s Lacrosse, Superstar), on the Inside Lacrosse, Shooting Space Podcast. The trip seemed to fly by, and in fact it may have been my best time ever, about 6 hours and 40 minutes (most of the Road Construction on Route 80 is completed now, too).
I was able to check into the Springhill Suites early and relax for a little while before heading for the beautiful campus of Mercyhurst University. As I pulled into the parking lot outside Tullio Field, the skies began to darken, and sure enough, in classic Erie fashion, it began to rain just as I went to exit the car. Soon there were some rumblings of Thunder and the start of the game was thus, delayed. But the rain would taper off quickly and I was able to catch up with a number of the friendly Laker Families who would also be in attendance. Tullio holds a lot of great memories, boy, it felt so good to be back!
After a quickly planned “Senior Day” Ceremony, it was Game Time! Though there were a good number of fans, and this game had huge PSAC West Playoff implications, there was not the same electricity that I recall from past home games of this stature – I chalked it up to a lack of student spectators and the pall of Covid. The game itself was exciting from the “get go”. The two rivals really got after each other in a classic PSAC Battle full of physical defense and athleticism all over the field, all game long. It would be a back and forth affair with Mercyhurst taking a 10-7 lead into halftime. As the second half unfolded, the Lakers maintained their dominance in the Draw Circle and their defense was able to hold IUP to just 4 second half goals, on their way to a huge 15-12 Home Win!
It was great to be able to see the team and their families as they made their way off the field. I was invited (Thank You, for that) to join the families of the Seniors at “The Stone” AKA The Corner Stone Bar and Grill. I only stayed long enough to say hello to everyone and check up on post Graduation plans. Before, during and after the game, had been filled with a series of micro-visits, the kind of thing I have missed most. I especially, enjoyed my lengthy chat with Diana’s old roommate, teammate and friend, Spencer Hess, a fellow blogger as well! While there was no post game tailgate and things were somewhat subdued, it was still great to have been there.
By the time I got something to eat and got back to the hotel, the excitement and emotion of the game, and my early start to the day, began to take its toll. I think I watched about five minutes of a Hockey Game, before I dozed off.
I was up and out of the hotel by about 7:30am. As nice and easy as the ride up was, the ride home was anything but. Between the fog and the windblown rain, the visibility was severely limited for at least the first two hours of the trip home. While the rain and fog lessened as I travelled southeast, it did not actually stop until that last hour (that traffic filled last 20 miles) of the trek. Though I had to concentrate harder than I might have liked, I was still able to reflect on the previous day. Watching the Lakers out on Tullio Field, winning a big regular season finale, to secure a Home Playoff Game, (tomorrow at 7pm, against IUP, again!), was great. I was happy to see Diana’s former teammates who have grown up and become the leaders of this year’s team. I remember them when they were Freshman and Sophomores, unsure of themselves and trying to find their way. I think that was their best game of the season which bodes well for a strong playoff showing. In the words of Laker Legend, Grace Lawson, “You have to be playing your best lacrosse in May”. Let’s Go Lakers!