Men’s lacrosse dominates Virginia Military Institute, first victory in three years

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The men’s lacrosse team joins into a huddle after last week’s Penn State game. (Photo courtesy of GoLeopards)

Charlie Berman, Assistant Sports Editor

Men’s lacrosse secured their first victory in over 1,000 days on the road against the Virginia Military Institute (VMI). After undergoing a deep rebuild and culture change throughout the pandemic, they appear to be finally turning a corner with this win following a close loss to the Big Ten power Penn State on Feb. 11.

“It always feels good to get in the win column. I am happy for the guys as they prepared hard during the week to perform on Saturday,” Head Coach Patrick Myers said. “We recognize we have a lot of work to do to keep getting better, but it’s always nice to do so when you are building off a win.”

The Maroon and White dominated throughout the game against a team that had beaten them in a heartbreaker just a year ago. Holding the Keydets to only six, the Leopards ended the game by holding an advantage in each of the four quarters played.

“Win or lose, we go back to work on Mondays, attacking our weaknesses, and improving our strengths,” Myers said. “The team takes this mindset every day, and every week, which leads to improved execution.”

After winning the opening face-off and putting four shots on goal, VMI got on the board first. Sophomore attacker Peter Lehman quickly responded by putting it in the back of the net off an assist from sophomore attacker Charlie Cunniffe, knotting the score at one.

The defense held strong for the rest of the first quarter allowing the Leopards to take their first lead of the game on a shot by sophomore midfielder John Mathes. Less than a minute later, senior attacker George Enman rocketed a shot past the goalie to make the score 3-1.

“Like our team, our defense continues to be a work in progress,” Myers said. “Playing more connected, playing with more trust, and just playing faster. Again, we have a long way to go, but it’s a step in the right direction at the defensive end.”

The Leopards would never relinquish the lead they took in the first quarter. The closest it got was early in the second as VMI struck after a won face-off to bring the score to within one.

Not to be deterred, junior midfielder Macklin Fitzpatrick responded with a goal. After a scoreless five minutes, he fired his second into the net.

VMI called a timeout in an effort to cease the Leopards’ momentum, but it invigorated Lafayette even more. The Leopards went on to score another three goals before VMI could finally counter with a goal of their own. Of those three goals, one came from Mathes, and then two came within 30 seconds of each other, both from sophomore attacker Kalman Kraham.

After VMI scored its third goal, Kraham completed his hat trick to make the score 9-3 going into halftime. Throughout the first half, the Leopards controlled all major stats: face-offs, shots and ground balls.

“The message is always the same. This team has belief in its own abilities while also recognizing that the only thing that matters is our ability to continually improve on the practice field every day,” Myers said.

The second half was no closer than the first. After VMI scored its fourth goal of the game, Lafayette scored three goals within the span of two minutes to put the game completely out of reach.

Senior midfielder Cole Dutton scored off an assist from freshman defender Cade Kilbride, which was followed just 30 seconds later with a goal from freshman attacker Nick Rossi. Topping off this scoring barrage for the Leopards was Lehman, who scored his second goal thanks to an assist from Cunniffe to put the Maroon and White up 12-4.

The fourth quarter opened on Lafayette’s longest scoreless streak of the game. That continued well into the period with the first score coming from junior attacker Ryan Duncan almost 15 minutes since their last goal. Despite the huge break, Lafayette came right back and got one more off the stick of Cunniffe.

VMI threw in one last garbage time goal and the game ended 14-6, marking a dominating win for the Leopards as they redeemed themselves from last year’s heartbreaker.

“If we keep our heads down and keep working, the results will take care of themselves,” Myers said. “We are just going to continue to chase our very best every day.”

Riding high after this victory, Lafayette will return home to play Sacred Heart in their “Every Child Matters” game tomorrow at 12 p.m.