February 26, 2011

Eastern Knocks Off Swarthmore, 7-4

from press release

ST. DAVIDS, Pa. - Eastern University Men's Lacrosse opened their 2011 campaign with a 7-4 win over a solid Swarthmore College team. Dave Darling scored three goals as the Eagles jumped to a 7-1 lead and held on for the win. Darling opened the scoring in the sixth minute with a blistering shot just inside the the right pipe on a nice feed from fellow Californian Ron Johnson. The Eagles double the edge in the 12th minute when Chris Farrar caught a Zac Ivy pass in traffic and slid a low shot in from just off the crease.

The Garnet cut the deficit in half when Wes Marcik rolled the crease and slipped in a low shot for his first of two on the afternoon. The period ended with the Eagles holding a 2-1 edge on the scoreboard and an 8-4 advantage in shots.

Eastern built the lead back to 3-1 when Shawn Farmer tallied his first collegiate goal on a 15 yard shot to the upper left corner of the goal. Darling uncorked another missile in a man up situation to build the edge to 4-1 with three minutes to play in the half. Cameron Tough earned the assist.

The Eastern defense continued to control the action of the game into the third period. Sophomore goalie Aaron Benz finished the afternoon with 13 saves, and some of his biggest saves came in keeping the sheet clean in the third period. The win over the Garnet is the first in three tries for the Eastern program. Swarthmore won the 2010 contest 8-2 over an Eastern team that featured many first year players in the line-up.

"I think the intensity is so much better this year." Benz said, " I haven't been able to sleep in 3 nights anticipating this game. There is extra energy because it's the first game and because they beat us so handedly last year." Will Johnson scored his first of the year on a roll from behind the goal five minutes in. Farmer made a big fake to clear space on the left side and walked into the scoring area for his second of the day five minutes later. Darling completed the hat trick on a shot from the crease on a pass from Matt Soldano.

"We played fairly consistently, but we have a lot to work on," Darling said after the game, " It was the first time we have ever won our first game of the year. It feels good to be able to look forward right away. We knew that Swarthmore is very disciplined so our goal was to limit their possession, which I thought we did. We knew that would be difficult against a team like Swarthmore, but we still hung on."

The Garnet won 67% of the face offs for the afternoon, and the extra possessions looked as though they might take their toll in the fourth as Zach Beldin and Marcik buried a pair of early goals to cut the deficit to 7-3. The Eagles worked the possession and had several near misses as the period progressed. The Garnet scored their final goal of the game in a man up situation with 2:37 to play.

"In the fourth quarter, we lacked the composure we needed," Benz said of the close of the game, "It comes down to discipline and communication. Coach told us that we need to practice more for the last quarter, which I'm sure is what we'll start focusing on. "

Head Coach Brandon Childs was pleased with performance of his team and with the overall atmosphere of the game. He referenced the leadership of senior defender Matt Mandia and Benz, and remarked about the excitement the crowd brought to the game. "We haven't had opportunities to practice hanging onto a lead." he said, "We are a young team, 30 of the 38 guys on our roster are either freshman or sophomores. We need to master keeping our poise at the end of the game, but that comes with experience.:"

"We lost our poise at the end." Childs continued, "In the fourth quarter, it's easy to get tired. We will look to get our guys into better shape so they can play the way they want to."

The Eagles (1-0), will have time to work out some of the kinks before their next game which will be at the University of Mary Washington on March 9.

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