February 22, 2011

Southeast Rises When Mercer Meets Jacksonville on Wednesday

from press release

MACON, Ga. – Mercer University lacrosse faithful will have a second opportunity to see the team play on its home turf when Jacksonville University comes to Bear Field on Wednesday (Feb. 23). Start time is slated for 4 p.m. (note that this is an adjustment from the original starting time).

The Bears (0-3) will be looking for their first victory in this inaugural year of the program. With an entirely-freshman starting lineup, MU head coach Jason Childs knows his team may have to endure some growing pains but still has high expectations for his team.

"We are looking to play more poised," said Childs. "I think that's an area where we can improve on and also a factor we can control.

"(Jacksonville) and Mercer are the two newest NCAA Division I programs in the South. Also, we are the only two schools whose other team's play in the A-Sun Conference and are sponsoring lacrosse."

The Dolphins (0-1) are coming off a close loss, 15-12, to No. 15-ranked Georgetown last Sunday at EverBank Field in Jacksonville. Members of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, JU was picked fourth in the MAAC pre-season poll.

Jacksonville began its program last year and played as an independent. The Dolphins first win in program history came versus nationally-ranked University of Denver.

Mercer, while winless in the early going versus an ambitious schedule, did play its closest contest of the year in the home opener against VMI a week ago in a 15-9 loss. The Bears' first-ever game was a loss at Ohio State on Feb. 13 and last Saturday's setback at Bellarmine, both established programs.

Alex Baird leads the team with four goals scored, three of which came at Bellarmine. Baird's "hat trick" was the first multi-goal game by a Bears' player. Baird has been efficient as well, taking just six shots and producing goals on 67-percent of his efforts.

Cole Branch and Brett Eisenmann have both scored a goal in each of the three Bears' games, thus far. Branch also has two assists for a team-leading five points to his credit.

Starting goalkeeper Justin Bateman is averaging 10.0 saves per game played. Backup goalie Dillon Volk has appeared in two games and has a total of eight saves.

Childs thinks Wednesday's match with Jacksonville could be a crowd-pleaser.

"I expect a fast paced game," said Childs. "There could be a lot of goals – and maybe a lot of penalties as well – because of the pace of the game.

"We hope to have a nice crowd come out again and support the team as they have done all year."

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