PHILADELPHIA, Penn. – Mercer junior attackman Zack Ward netted five goals, including the game winner with 13 seconds left to lead the men's lacrosse team to a 10-9 win over St. Joseph's at Finnesey Field on Wednesday afternoon. The win was the program's first road triumph and moved the team to 2-2 on the year.
Through just four games, Mercer head coach Kyle Hannan has already lifted his team to a program single-season record win total. St. Joseph's suffered its first home loss of the year and fell to 3-3.
"It was a great game," Hannan said. "It was back and forth, and our guys executed well down the stretch to come away with the win."
With 38 seconds left in the third quarter, freshman attackman Chris Baxa assisted Ward on an even-strength goal to trim Mercer's deficit to 8-7 entering the final period. Ward dialed up another score at the 9:48 juncture of the fourth to tie the game briefly, but St. Joseph's reclaimed the lead just 40 seconds later.
After Ward scored an equalizer with 7:54 in the fourth quarter, the teams went into the final minute of regulation tied at 9-9. Hannan called a timeout with 38 seconds left, dialing up a play to free Ward in the offensive sector.
The strategy worked, and Ward netted the go-ahead score with just 13 seconds to play. Sophomore midfielder Justin Evans won the ensuing faceoff and registered a ground ball to secure the win.
"At the end, we ran a play that we've worked on a lot prior to this game, but we actually didn't have it on our play sheet," Hannan said. "They mixed up their defenses so much that we went with a different look, and the guys executed and finished the play."
St. Joseph's entered the game with the nation's best scoring defense in the country, allowing just 6.4 goals per game. The Bears out-shot the Hawks 23-18 and dominated inside the center circle, winning 17 out of a possible 23 face-offs.
Freshman goalkeeper Mike Nugent made nine saves on the day to pick up his second win of the season.