Knights set up for season finale

The Gannon University lacrosse team continues to look like a group on a mission.

After making quick work of Millersville and Shippensburg universities last week, the Knights have won three games in a row and have clinched a spot in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference playoffs for the third consecutive season.

Coach Lindsey Lowman said she has been impressed with the Knights’ recent production.

“I really think we’re starting to put it together at the right time,” she said. “We’re starting to play our best going into the PSAC tournament, which is what you want to do.”

Gannon is ranked 14th in the most recent Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association top 15 poll. The Knights’ 10 victories represent the eighth time they have tallied double-digit wins in the last eight seasons.

Gannon (10-5 overall, 8-2 PSAC) assured itself of hosting a PSAC quarterfinal match when it demolished Millersville 22-7 Friday.

Friday’s 22 goals tied the Knights’ season-high output that was also accomplished in a 22-8 over Lake Erie College March 16.

Gannon broke open Friday’s match by scoring seven unanswered goals in the first half after Millersville had managed to stay within a couple of goals for much of the first half. The Knights made the game a laugher in the second half when they outscored the Mauraders 8-1.

All told, Gannon outscored Millersville 16-3 in the final 48 minutes. Sophomore midfielder Stevie Lombardoni tallied a career-high five goals while senior Sarah Grzybinski also scored five.

Gannon picked up where it left off Saturday by registering the game’s first six goals and was never threatened by the Red Raiders (7-8, 3-7). Grzybinski continued her hot streak as she led the balanced Gannon attack with five goals while junior Jess Fugate and Lombardoni each chipped in with a pair of scores.

“We’ve actually scored a lot of goals all year, but now we have so many different threats that the other team can’t scout on,” Lowman said.

Currently, the Knights sit in third place in the PSAC behind only ninth-ranked Lock Haven (11-4, 9-1) and No. 8 West Chester (12-2, 8-2). These teams represent Gannon’s only conference losses.

However, the Knights will likely have their hands full once again when they make the short trip east to wrap the regular season against crosstown rival Mercyhurst University 5 p.m. Saturday. The Lakers currently maintain a conference record identical to the Knights and have also won three matches in row.

In last season’s finale, the Knights came out on top against the Lakers, 12-11 in a double-overtime thriller at Gannon University Field.  Fugate scored sent the game into a second overtime when she scored with three seconds left off a Hail Mary pass from Mary Eshenour. Then-junior Rachel DerCola then scored the winning goal in sudden-death.

It is the first Mercyhust game for the first-year Lowman.

“Everybody has definitely made it known that it’s a big game and it’s a do-or-die situation,” she said. “So whether it’s from the rivalry or a playoff standpoint, it’s a must-win game.”

The Knights will host their final regular season game of the year against non-conference Tiffin University 5 p.m. Thursday.  Gannon University Field is also set to host a PSAC tournament’s first round game against an undetermined team 11 a.m. Saturday, May 1.

 

JOE CUNEO

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