LEXINGTON, Va. – The Mercer men's lacrosse team outshot the Virginia Military Institute 39-37 on Saturday, but found the back of the net just four times in a 14-4 loss; moving the Bears to 1-12 overall.
Saturday's game was a rematch of last year's inaugural home game when VMI took a 15-9 decision over the Bears in Macon. Mercer came in looking to exact a bit of revenge, but VMI had plans of its own as the Keydets improved to 3-9 on the year with the win.
The Bears dug themselves an early hole in Saturday's game, allowing VMI to take the lead in the game's first minute. VMI took control of the faceoff and quickly found open space in the Bears box. After an initial VMI shot sailed wide left, Russell East uncorked another shot to tally the game's first goal 37 seconds in.
The Keydets would never trail after scoring first and frustrated the Bears offensively early on. MU was held scoreless in the first 15 minutes and mustered just three shots.
Mercer's lack of offense allowed VMI to extend its lead to 4-0 at the end of one, but the Bears would respond in the second period. The Bears got two back early on as sophomore attackman John Avent put the Bears on the board with an unassisted goal 41 seconds into the second.
Sophomore Sam Grayson, continued his strong play of late, cutting the deficit to two when he scored an unassisted goal just two minutes later. It was his BLANK of the season.
The 4-2 score would be as close as MU could get on Saturday as VMI countered with the final three goals of the first half. The Keydets walked into the locker room with a 7-2 lead and held a 23-13 advantage in shots.
The script flipped somewhat in the second half as the Bears exploded for 26 of their 39 shots in the half. The added shots however didn't equate to more scoring as MU would register just two more goals in the game.
Sophomore Ian Gehlbach led off the third quarter with a goal off an assist from Sully Bennett to bring the Bears back within four at the nine minute mark. Just over 20 seconds later VMI connected on the first of back-to-back goals as Russell East tallied a hat trick on his third unassisted goal.
The fourth quarter proved to be somewhat of an enigma as the Bears unleashed a season-high 17 shots in the quarter but couldn't come up with a single goal. All the while, VMI took just seven shots and capitalized with five goals of their own to take the 14-4 victory.
The Bears peppered VMI's starting goaltender, Matt Lindemann in the fourth but Lindemann responded by turning away 18 shots on the day.
Mercer finishes out the regular season next Saturday at home against St. Joseph's. Saturday's game is scheduled for 1 p.m. at Bear Field.