In its first year as an official varsity sport, it’s safe to say the John Carroll University men’s lacrosse team has become a force to be reckoned with.
The Blue Streaks headed north to Beloit, Wis. this past weekend to face Beloit College. The game ended in a 9-3 victory for JCU, making the long journey well worth it.
“Playing together and as a team has been the key to our success,” said head coach Brian Small. “Guys put aside individualism for the better of the team.”
The Blue Streaks started the first period off strong, leading 2-0 nearly right from the start against Beloit with goals by senior Brian Jaszka and freshman Daniel Kincaid. After a goal by Beloit’s Matt Kelly in the second period, freshman Keegan Flinter fired back and scored, which put the Blue Streaks ahead by 4-1 heading into the second half.
The men commenced a strong second half by sweeping the third quarter with four goals.
Flinter scored again at the beginning of the third period. Two minutes later, freshman Declan O’Grady scored a goal of his own.
Not long after, Kincaid and O’Grady followed with subsequent goals as well.
Heading into the fourth period, JCU was comfortably up by six goals, but they didn’t stop there.
Freshman Stephen “Beef” Leous scored with an assist by Flinter at 10:32. Although the Buccaneers scored minutes later, the Blue Streaks retaliated once again with their final goal of the game-this time by Kincaid, giving him a hat trick.
With only 33 seconds left, Beloit College scored; however, victory already belonged to JCU by that point.
Freshman goalkeeper Brian Bedell made eight saves while only allowing three goals.
Freshman Kyle Patterson proved to be a vital component of the team as well, winning seven out of the 11 total face offs.
Overall, the Blue Streaks outshot the Buccaneers by a total of 36-20.
This was the final nonconference match for the Blue and Gold. Leous feels optimistic about the team’s inaugural conference play coming up.
“I think our team is in a really good position going into OAC opener on April 9,” said Leous.
“Going against Otterbein is going to be tough,” added Leous. “But we have a great coach and a strong first-year program, and I think we have a lot more to prove.”
The team certainly has worked hard in their first official season. With a huge amount of young talent, the Blue Streaks have a bright future ahead.
“I think in OAC play our team will be great, our team has something that no other team in the OAC has and that is playing for an inaugural team, as well as a lot of skill behind the hands of all of our coaches and players,” said O’Grady. “That gives us motivation to make the school proud and to make history as an inaugural team making a run at an OAC title.”
While the OAC is small in terms of lacrosse varsity programs, the road is not going to be easy. Yet, that still hasn’t stopped the team from buying into the belief that this conference is their to lose.
“I believe that we can win the league, but we have to continue to work hard during practices and as a cohesive unit. We also have to keep improving each and every day,” said Small.