Considering the COVID-19 pandemic and all the challenges it has brought to all athletes, the IUP women’s lacrosse team still had a solid season but fell to Mercyhurst 16–4 in the Quarter Finals this past weekend.
The Hawks finished with an overall record of 6–6 and 6–4 in the conference.
“I am so proud of this group,” head coach Brenna Gallagher said. “Between playing in a pandemic, injuries and having four freshmen consistently starting and playing big roles in big games, I am very proud of them beating the odds and making the tournament.
“The future is very bright with all the young talent coming back next season.”
In the 16–4 loss, the game got out of hand early on with Mercyhurst taking a 5–0 lead 10 minutes into the game. IUP did manage to strike two goals on the board in a 1:10. The two goals came from Kayte Zeiler (senior, exercise science) and Leah Hunter (junior, speech pathology). Both were goals were assisted by Jordan Kulp (sophomore, nursing).
“I think they were excited, but getting out of a hole that we were in was tough,” Gallagher said.
The deficit was cut to three, and the Hawks were down 5–2, but unfortunately, that did not last long. Mercyhurst added nine goals in a row in the second half of the game. After that, Mercyhurst just kept on taking advantage of IUP’s turnovers and defensive miscues.
“Mercyhurst capitalized off our mistakes,” Gallagher said. “Our keeper made some nice stops back-to-back-to-back, and we couldn’t clear the ball out of the zone. When that happens, the shot clock resets, giving the opposing team 90 seconds to execute and tire us out. That hurt us.”
In a fast-paced game, being stuck in your own zone can wear your defense out much faster. In the second half of the game, the Lakers kept on adding goals and made it to a point where IUP could not come back as the deficit grew larger.
The Hawks would add on two more goals, with another one coming from Hunter and one from Chantal Jimenez (freshman, biology). With the final score being 16–4, the Hawks still did everything they could this season and with younger talent on the roster.
This big loss also showed how much it takes to play these full games.
“Lacrosse is a very high-speed, lots of running game,” Gallagher said. “So yes, playing four games in six days – all being on the road – I think affected us by the end of the stretch. I am super proud of them playing such a close game with Mercyhurst, Wednesday, and then getting back on the road Thursday and beating Lock Haven less than 24 hours later.”
The Hawks are looking forward to next season though and will look to dominate in the PSAC.
“I am excited to have more preparation time with hopes the fall ball season is more normal,” Gallagher said. “We have nine out of our 12 starters returning with nine talented incoming freshmen. We will have more time to get them prepared, and they can get in more of a groove playing with one another. That will be a big difference-maker next season.”
Until the fall, the Hawks will look to seek revenge and make a deep playoff run next season.