NEWARK, Del. - - A ferocious comeback late in the fourth quarter fell just short for the Wilmington University men's lacrosse team as nationally ranked No. 5 Mercy escaped with an 8-7 nonconference victory at the WU Athletics Complex on Saturday afternoon.
Looking for that staple victory for a program in its fifth year of existence, the Wildcats (1-1) were right there throughout the contest, holding a 3-2 lead at the halftime break. But Mercy (3-0), ranked No. 5 in the latest USILA National Coaches Poll, pulled away with a 5-0 third quarter before the Wildcats scored three goals in the final 2:39 to pull with one.
TJ Caton opened the scoring with a goal with 7:43 to play in the first quarter. The only other scoring in the frame came from Mercy at the 2:26 mark, and the game was tied after the opening 15 minutes.
But the third quarter was all Mercy, as they used a late penalty from the second quarter and quickly scored the man-up goal to tie the game, 3-3. They scored four more times in the corner, taking as large as a 7-3 lead in the game. The Mavericks outshot the Wildcats, 12-3, in the third quarter alone.
Giovanni Marino ended the run with his lone goal of the game to start the fourth quarter. But the Mavericks answered back and regained an 8-4 lead with 8:20 to play. The Wildcats recorded six shots after that last Mercy goal, but didn't score again until with 2:39 left on the clock. Miles Crouse made it an 8-5 game off a feed from Jacob Herman.
Jason Roland made a save to give the Wildcats the ball back and after a penalty, Crouse got into the middle of the zone and scored another goal with 1:11 left as the Wildcats got to within 8-6.
The Wildcats won the ensuing face-off and had its first two attempts at net denied before Miles Crouse was at it again with 37 seconds to play, scoring his fourth goal of the game to bring the Wildcats to within 8-7.
The Mavericks won the next faceoff, but John Greene intercepted a pass and the Wildcats took off towards the other end. Keeshawn Bell had the ball in his stick just outside of the crease with less than 10 seconds to play, but the ball was knocked out of his stick and away from danger as the final horn sounded.
The Wildcats outshot the Mavericks, 42-34, for the game, including 14-6 in the fourth quarter.
The Wildcats will have another tough game with their next matchup, as they welcome Florida Tech to the WU Athletics Complex on Monday, March 7. Florida Tech received 19 points in the latest USILA National Coaches Poll while the Wildcats received two votes in the poll. Monday's game is slated for a 12:00 p.m. opening face-off.