The Student News Site of Gannon University since 1947

THE GANNON KNIGHT

The Student News Site of Gannon University since 1947

THE GANNON KNIGHT

The Student News Site of Gannon University since 1947

THE GANNON KNIGHT

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February 23, 2024

Lacrosse packs heat in early run

The Gannon University lacrosse team is living up to the big expectations it set for itself one year ago.

The Knights, who won their last four regular-season games in 2010, are off to a 3-1 start after its spring break trip to the Carolinas to begin the season.

Gannon opened the season by romping Erskine College 23-6, followed by a 16-14 win over Pfeiffer University, before following it up with a 12-10 victory over Queens University of Charlotte (North Carolina).

The Knights dropped an 8-7 decision to second-ranked Limestone College to end the road trip on March 5.

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Coach Steve Wagner said the fast start puts the Knights in positive position.

“The thing that I’m happiest with is that we’re on the same page and making strides as one,” he said.

After their hot start, the Knights moved to eighth place in the latest Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association Top 10 poll released Tuesday.

However, for senior midfielder Mary Eshenour, eighth place isn’t enough.

“I think we definitely have a target on our back,” Eshenour said. “There are a lot of teams that would like to be in our position and there are teams that are going to be after us, so either way, I think we have the target on our back.”

Eshenour helped to kick-start Gannon’s season by registering 17 goals and 18 points in the Knights’ first four games.

She is now among the top goal scorer in program history and ranks 10th on Gannon’s all-time points list.

For her efforts, Eshenour was awarded Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference player of the week honors.

The senior set a career high by tallying eight goals in the Knights’ victory over Pfeiffer.

Eshenour wasn’t the only Gannon player in on the early-season action.

Junior attacker Rachel DerCola has commanded the offense by handing out seven assists while finding the back of the net seven times.

Sophomore midfielder Jess Fugate is second on the team in points, having chipped in 11 goals and three assists toward the offensive attack.

However, arguably the biggest question mark coming into the year for the Knights was how they would do without former goalie Acacia Cook, who is Gannon’s all-time saves leader.

Thus far the Knights have been solid between the pipes as freshman Margaret Maslyn has picked up three early season wins.

She has allowed 10 goals or less in two of her four starts thise season.

Gannon’s 3-1 start is its best since the 2008 season, when it started 6-1 en route to an 11-4 record. However, that was the final year Gannon was affiliated with the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference and according to Wagner, the Knights’ new conference has proven to be a formidable foe.

“The PSAC is undeniably the best conference in the country, and if you can survive it, means that you have a good chance at the NCAA tournament,” he said.

The PSAC currently has the most teams in the top 10, as Gannon is joined by Lock Haven and West Chester universities as well as Mercyhurst College in the latest poll. Lock Haven is the only conference team in the top five.

The Knights will get a heavy dose of the league of extraordinary lacrosse women, when they start their conference schedule by traveling to Slippery Rock University Tuesday.

The remainder of Gannon’s season will feature PSAC matches, sans a pair of games against Niagara University and Lake Erie College.

After a 10-day layoff the Knights will have a chance to show their continuity, which, according to Eshenour, is an important step to becoming a playoff contender.

“Everyone’s starting to learn to play with each other,” she said. “We’re starting to understand what we’re about as a team.”

As Gannon begins the heart of the season, Wagner said the Knights face many possibilities.

“The world is kind of open to us, as long as we progress and improve like the way we should in practice.”

JOE CUNEO

[email protected]

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