The No. 18 Ithaca College men’s lacrosse team defeated Nazareth College 10–6 April 4 at Higgins Stadium for its third straight win. The Bombers now have a 9–1 record this season and a 4–0 record at home.
The Bombers’ defense was on full display in the first quarter as they did not allow a goal from the Golden Flyers. They also managed to put up three goals of their own, coming off the sticks of junior midfielder Conner Crosson, senior attack Jake Cotton and freshman midfielder Dillon Fitzpatrick.
Junior attack Will Witter sparked the Blue and Gold’s offense in the second quarter by scoring his seventh goal of the season. Crosson followed up with another goal, and senior midfielder Steven Landspurg netted the Bombers’ third goal of the quarter as he ran the length of the field for his second goal of the season.
Nazareth managed to find the goal for the first time late in the second quarter when sophomore attack Drew McNerney split the legs of sophomore goalkeeper Robby Atwood to put the Golden Flyers on the board. Nazareth added a second goal to their tally with 23 seconds left in the quarter off the stick of freshman midfielder Jeremy Jacob. The score at halftime was 6–2.
Bombers head coach Jeff Long said the team’s early success came from his players keeping their focus.
“The guys were all playing together,” Long said. “They were all on the same game plan. I think we lost a little focus with that early lead, but luckily we were able to regain it at the end, which is a step in the right direction.”
The score did not change during the third quarter as neither team could find the goal. The Bombers turned the ball over three times in the quarter on three consecutive possessions.
Nazareth head coach Rob Randall said the weather was the main factor that led both teams to face problems in the third quarter as the wind picked up.
“I think play got sloppy,” Randall said. “It was windy, and it was tough for both teams to clear ball. It seemed like there were a lot of turnovers in that quarter. I think the weather kind of neutralized things there.”
The Golden Flyers followed up the scoreless third quarter with a goal 30 seconds into the fourth from senior attack Paul Walter to bring the Bombers’ lead to three. Senior midfielder Stephen Morrell responded a minute later for the Bombers with his first goal of the game. Nazareth then cut the lead to just two goals after back-to-back scores from Walter and sophomore midfielder Jon Lippert. The Bombers then secured the victory with three consecutive goals from Morrell, Witter and Cotton.
Landspurg said the team was able to overcome its mid-game struggles by remaining composed throughout the game.
“We like to get into a rhythm, and we like to have the offense moving at a certain pace,” Landspurg said. “A lot of the time, against certain opponents, we seem to fall out of that rhythm, and it’s tough. Especially when the weather is whipping around, the wind is 40 miles an hour and it’s snowing sideways, but we found a way to get focused again and get the boys dialed back in.”
Atwood had a strong showing between the pipes, as he only allowed six goals during the game, including two shutout quarters and one goal coming with 3.3 seconds remaining in the game.
Long said Atwood has been one of the team’s most important players so far this season.
“He’s been good every game,” Long said. “He’s seeing the ball well and he’s providing leadership as a sophomore, so hopefully he’ll keep getting better and better.”
The Bombers will return to action at 1 p.m. April 7 against Union College at Higgins Stadium. With four of the Bomber’s five remaining, regular season games coming against Liberty League Conference opponents, Landspurg said the team must remain resilient as the season comes to a close.
“We have a bunch of Liberty League games coming up, so we have to stay focused and stay intense for every single game because now every single game counts,” Landspurg said. “We just have to keep moving forward and keep getting better every day and keep working towards the Liberty League playoffs.”