The Gannon University lacrosse season hasn’t exactly gone as coach Steve Wagner drew it up, but after a strong stretch of games, the Knights could be in a position to pencil themselves into the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference playoffs.
The Knights went 1-1 last week in conference with a win over Indiana (Pa.) University Wednesday, followed by a loss to conference-leading Lock Haven University in a weather-shortened game Saturday.
In the week that was, one Knight even managed to write her name into the history books.
Mary Eshenour scored four goals against IUP to set the Gannon scoring record to break former teammate and current assistant coach Taryn Millard’s mark of 221.
Gannon vaulted itself back into the national top-10 after a one-week hiatus. The Knights currently occupy the No. 10 spot, after dropping to No. 11 last week.
Rankings aside, the Knights have finally started to steady the ship after a tumultuous season, according to Wagner.
“We’ve been through so much getting to where we are, and at this point, it’s kind of like ‘let’s finish this out and take care of business,’” Wagner said.
Against Lock Haven, It took the Knights an entire half before they were able to settle in.
Lock Haven won 12-8, after officials called the game with 11 minutes, 53 seconds remaining due to a driving snow storm at Gannon University Field.
The third-ranked Bald Eagles opened up a 9-1 lead on the Knights at halftime, after controlling the ball in Gannon’s zone for much of the first half. Lock Haven outshot Gannon 13-9, as the Bald Eagles’ Jessica Pandolf registered four of her game-high six goals in the opening period.
However, the Knights fought back to make a game of it in the second half by registering the game’s last five goals before Mother Nature came calling.
Despite the loss, Gannon was able to take a couple positives away from the game. Eshenour tied the Gannon scoring record, and the Knights benefited from playing one of the nation’s best teams, Wagner said.
“Basically, at halftime we just decided to wake up and make a game out of it,” Wagner said. “It was the kind of game that was good to play in just for the experience part of it.”
Whatever momentum Gannon gained at the end of the Lock Haven game, the Knights carried with them to IUP, where they routed the Crimson Hawks 20-10.
After IUP took a 3-0 lead to begin the game, the Knights scored eight of the game’s next nine goals and never looked back.
One of the first-half goals was credited to Eshenour, making the senior midfielder the all-time leading scorer in Gannon lacrosse history.
It was a fitting setting for Eshenour’s historic achievement, as Millard was present on the Gannon sideline, and the record’s previous holder, former Gannon standout Mindy Richmond, looked on, as she serves as head coach of IUP.
Eshenour scored three more times in the game to increase her career total to 225 goals.
Gannon improved to 9-4-1 overall with an 18-6 win against nonconference foe Lake Erie. The Knights are 5-3-0 in the PSAC .
Gannon will conclude its season with three conference home games.
Should the Knights claim one of the top four spots in the PSAC standings, Gannon will host a game in the postseason tournament.
It is one idea the Knights are not shying away from.
Junior Rachel DerCola said the entire team has its eye on the postseason.
“Obviously finishing strong is what we’re hoping for, but we’re also looking to the PSAC playoffs and focusing on what kind of damage we can do.”