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Bombers open up season with victory over Cardinals

Junior+attackman+Jack+Pastore+carries+the+ball+in+his+stick+with+several+defenders+trailing+behind.+The+Bombers+secured+a+12%E2%80%9310+victory+in+the+late+stages+of+the+game+against+the+St.+John+Fisher+University+Cardinals.
John Henry Downes
Junior attackman Jack Pastore carries the ball in his stick with several defenders trailing behind. The Bombers secured a 12–10 victory in the late stages of the game against the St. John Fisher University Cardinals.

The Tommy Pearce era has officially arrived in South Hill, with the new head coach of the Ithaca Bombers men’s lacrosse team opening up the season with a 12–10 victory over the St. John Fisher Cardinals on Feb. 25.

The Bombers started the game free of any rust that might be expected of the first game, with senior attacker John Sramac finding his fellow senior attacker Charlie Niebuhr to give the Bombers an early three-goal advantage. The Cardinals, meanwhile, took a few minutes to join the party but some fancy dodging and a smooth finish from Cardinals senior attacker Timmy Salit brought it back to a 3–2 Bombers’ advantage at the end of the first quarter.

The Cardinals brought the momentum with them into the second quarter, going on a blazing 4–1 run to reverse the tide of the game. A concentrated focus on the Bombers’ short stick defensive midfielders gave the Cardinals the matchups they wanted and the space to get quality looks on net. Despite the sudden pressure on offense, junior attackmen Kyle Proctor and Jack Pastore linked up for a Pastore goal in the final minute of the half to cut the Cardinals’ lead to 7–6.

The third quarter was dominated by junior attack/midfielder Sekou Ibrahima, who had three points for the quarter, including the goal that gave the Bombers their first lead since the start of the second quarter. The Cardinals, unruffled, continued to prey on advantageous matchups on offense and took their lead back on a man-up goal from senior attacker Matthew Kemmis to stay up 10–9 going into the fourth.

The Bombers started the fourth quarter by tying the game back up, with Sramac dodging from behind the cage to free himself up for the goal. A low-scoring quarter was capped by senior midfielder Derek Stout finishing his hat trick off of another assist from Ibrahima. The Cardinals tried to answer, but defensive adjustments by the Bombers took away the matchups the Cardinals had been seeking out all game by sending slides earlier to deny rollback opportunities and clog the shooting lanes.

The win marked the first Bombers victory over the Cardinals since 2017. It also marked the first game since 1987 without former head coach Jeff Long on the sideline.

Pearce, now 1–0 with the Bombers, said he was excited to finally get the opportunity to play games with his new team.

“It’s awesome,” Pearce said. “I’ve only been here a number of months but it feels like a long time, so being able to finally play somebody else and not have to wait long for that first win makes [the season] a little bit easier.”

While the Bombers have an abundance of experience on the roster, the intricacies of Pearce’s coaching style and vision are still a new concept. Pearce said that while the first showing was a little rough around the edges, his team did a good job capitalizing on the opportunities they were given.

“I think that we can do better,” Pearce said. “In transition, we made some decisions that, when we look on film, we’ll see maybe could have been a little bit better but I think that overall, [St. John Fisher] probably had more time of possession than us and I think that we were pretty efficient in the half-field. That’s what really made the difference aside from our defense playing great.”

The Bombers will face their first road test against Lycoming College at 4 p.m. Feb. 28 in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

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