The Eastern College Athletic Conference pulls the top four teams for postseason play, and the University of Indianapolis men’s lacrosse team is currently part of a four way tie for second place. With one conference game left on the schedule, No. 18 UIndy is competing against No. 5 Mercyhurst University.
On Saturday, April 23, the Hounds beat conference opponent Alderson Broaddus University 14-10.
The Battlers scored the first goal of the game, but less than a minute later freshman attack Tyler Johnston’s shot found the back of the net after a pass from freshman attack Parker Kump. With 3:37 remaining in the first quarter junior midfield Jimmy Smith fired a shot on goal to make it a 2-1 game. Before the first quarter closed out, Alderson tied the game, but with 12 seconds remaining Johnston scored his second of the game.
UIndy’s one goal lead heading into the second quarter turned into a three goal lead before halftime. Freshman midfield Kevin Spurlock scored his seventh goal of the season with 8:58 remaining in the quarter. Later with 3:09 left remaining, Johnston scored his third goal of the game making it 5-2 Greyhounds.
Six goals were scored in the third quarter, and five were from UIndy. Freshman attack Shawn Kimble scored first for the Hounds and was followed by two more goals from Johnston, with Battlers’ lone goal in between Johnston’s two. Freshmen attack Matthew Johnson and midfield Nathaniel Hauck finished off the scoring in the third and made it a 10-3 game. This was Hauck’s first goal as a Greyhound.
Alderson came alive in the fourth quarter and scored seven goals, but the Hounds never lost the lead. Freshman midfield Luke Allen scored his first goal of the game, which was followed by a goal from Kump to make it 12-5. After a goal form the Battlers, Kump scored one more. After four goals from the Battlers, Shawn scored the final goal of the game with 13 seconds remaining.
Prior to beating Alderson, the Greyhounds faced off against Seton Hill University on April 14. Kump scored the first goal of the game with 3:29 left in the first quarter. Freshman Jarod Kimble was in goal for UIndy and saved all eight of the Griffins’ shots on goal in the first quarter, for a 1-0 by the Hounds.
The Hounds scored three more goals to the Griffins’ one in the second quarter. Up first was Johnson, who capitalized on a man-up opportunity after a pass from Shawn. Two and a half minutes later, the two switched roles, and Shawn scored after a pass from Johnson, putting the Hounds up 3-0. Seton Hill scored before Smith could connect with Johnston, but his goal made it a 4-1 game with 4:51 left in the second quarter.
The third quarter brought five goals total, three coming from UIndy. Smith had two of the three, and with 21 seconds left in the third, Johnson fired an unassisted shot at the net making it a 7-3 game.
As UIndy entered the fourth quarter, the Greyhounds looked like they would beat their third ranked team of the year, but the Griffins scored six unanswered goals, closing out the game with a 9-7 win.
Assistant Men’s Lacrosse Coach Spencer Wims said UIndy opened the game well, but Seton Hill was the better team in the second half. Despite the loss, Wims is still content with the effort.
“We started the game really strong,” Wims said. “Offense really kicked it into gear. Defense was also playing very well, but it [Seton Hill] is a tough team. They’re very talented. They came out that second half and fourth quarter and really started taking it to us. It’s one of those things where the floodgates opened, and they started getting more goals. But overall, it was a great effort. The guys just ran out of gas at the end.”
UIndy paired with the HEADstrong Foundation for the game against the Griffins to raise money and awareness for families affected by cancer. The Greyhounds sported HEADstrong socks and shoelaces to show their support. According to UIndy’s athletics website, the foundation is “committed to being a resource for cancer patients and their families, helping them to navigate the harrowing ordeal of cancer by providing essential services to improve quality of life.”
Wims said that the team connected with the foundation through Head Men’s Lacrosse Coach Greg Stocks. The United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association, the governing body for the coaches’ association, dedicated the week of April 15-23 as cancer awareness week and connected with the HEADstrong Foundation to do so.
The Hounds have one game remaining in their regular season. UIndy opened its first season with a three-game winning streak, which was followed by a three-game losing steak and then once again by a four-game win streak. Since arriving in August, Wims and Jarod have seen the players grow numerous ways.
“We’ve grown tremendously, especially in our confidence,” Jarod said. “In the beginning of the season, we weren’t extremely confident. And then after our two wins against [ranked teams] Lindenwood [University] and Lake Erie [College], we kind of grew as a team [because] we knew our strengths and weaknesses, so we just kind of built off that.”
The team’s losing streak took place as the Hounds traveled south over Spring Break, and Wims saw a lot of the team’s growth happen during that time. According to Wims, the team’s biggest strength is how close-knit they are.
“From the beginning of the season, it’s been an amazing growth process,” he said. “Our first trip to Wheeling Jesuit [University], and then our trip down to Florida, our team was a little immature in what we thought we could do. And coming back from that trip, I think we learned a lot about ourselves and about our teammates and really came together as a group. The guys do a good job of really sticking together and going through the game plan and doing the great things we need to do to win…. Having 30 kids come in to school at one time, and being on one team, really creates that close-knit group. And then not having anybody who’s had any college experience at UIndy has really helped our team come together and realize that we’re going to do the best we can this year and move on from there.”
Wims said that the team is doing the best it can this year, and by doing that, the team of 27 freshmen, two sophomores and one junior ranked at No. 18.
“It was not at all expected,” he said. “I think coming into the season we knew we’d take some growing pains just for having such a young group. It’s really kind of opened our eyes to how talented this group is and how fast they have come together. You can’t say enough [about] how much they’ve come together and worked as a team, and that’s really led to our success on the field and being ranked.”
Jarod is proud of the Hounds for being ranked, but he said it does not matter if the effort to continue to win is not there.
“It’s extremely exciting,” Jarod said. “That’s the biggest thing for us right now. But rankings don’t really matter that much, because you’ve just got to keep working hard. The future is always up.”
For the final game of the season, UIndy will compete against Mercyhurst University on Saturday, April 30, with the first faceoff set for 1 p.m.