Lax lacks decisive final push

Men’s lacrosse senior captain Alex Georgalas poses for a photo on his senior day. Georgalas is the lone senior on this year’s team, and has been a strong presence both on and off the field./ Courtesy of Jamie Chagnon

In a turnaround from last year’s senior day, which featured 10 graduating players, this year’s ceremony on Saturday, April 14, honored sole senior captain Alex Georgalas. Fighting against Clarkson University on the sunny afternoon, the Brewers were unable hold onto an early lead, falling 6-9.

On and off of the field, Georgalas has been a consistent leader for his 33 younger teammates. After a serious knee injury and surgery during his high school career, he made an immediate impact at Vassar.

Head coach Marc Graham said, “Alex spent countless hours on rehab to strengthen his knee, while also honing his skills at the face-off.” Despite the fact that he has suffered a second knee injury and surgery, Georgalas has showed the utmost commitment to the team. “Alex again

turned his attention to rehab and being an emotional leader at practices and games,” Graham continued. “He’s played very well as a defensive midfielder this season, and has been a leader on the defensive side.”

This season, Georgalas has played in 11 games, securing 11 ground balls and causing five turnovers. Throughout his career, the senior has collected an impressive total of 55 ground balls

and caused eight turnovers. Georgalas said: “All of the memories and friendships I’ve made over

the past four years will stay with me forever. The younger guys are already a very talented group and continue to make me proud.”

The senior has inspired his teammates through his dedication and grit, commented junior

midfielder and fellow captain James Thomas. “It’s not always easy to come out to practice with the same energy and intensity everyday, but he has managed to do that for the past three years,” Thomas said. “To me, what speaks a lot about him is his perseverance. Having two knee injuries and never giving up speaks a lot about his leadership.”

Georgalas’ role off the field has helped welcome younger players to the team, and aided them in adapting at the collegiate level. “Alex consistently demonstrated the work ethic that we all need to be successful in our league,” recalled sophomore midfielder Kyle Cherry. “He also made every effort to include the underclassmen in team activities, and was always the first to offer advice if someone needed it. Alex has been a leader on the field with his daily hard work and energy, and is a great friend off the field because of how much he cares for everybody on this team.”

After honoring the senior for his contributions to the program, the men’s lacrosse team

stepped onto their home field to face Clarkson University. Coming off of a well-fought, onegoal loss to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, ranked 20th in Division III, the team felt confident in their ability to give their opponents a tough fight.

Their desire was evident as soon as the first whistle blew. Less than one minute into the

game, junior midfielder Dekker Stebel shook his defender and fired a shot on goal. While the ball deflected off of the goalie, sophomore attacker Michael Mullen snagged the ball away from the goalie in midair, tossing the ball into the back of the net.

The teams’ offenses fired back and forth, but defensive efforts held the game scoreless for six minutes. However, as the Golden Knights moved the ball down the field, they were able to fire a low-angle shot into the top right corner of the cage. Just over a minute later, Stebel spun

by his defender, ripping another shot. Deflecting off the foot of another Clarkson defenseman,

the ball found the back of the goal, giving the Brewers a 2-1 advantage halfway through the

first quarter. While the Golden Knights found another goal in the next minute, junior goalie Matt Boyd made the following stop, clearing the ball upfield. Once on the offensive half, Thomas

found first-year standout Tomás Meade on the goal line, where he fired an underhand shot right through the legs of Clarkson’s goalie to end the quarter 3-2.

The opponents came out fired up in the second quarter, racking up three goals off of 16 shots. While the Brewers got off 13 shots in the first period, they only had four throughout the second. Thomas identified this deficit as one of the contributing factors to the tight loss. “At some points, the offense struggled when we really needed to keep putting up points. Our off ball movement started to waver, and it’s hard to beat a strong defense without a lot of movement,” he recognized.

Two minutes into the third period, the Brewers found themselves down a defenseman due to a penalty. Clarkson found an open man on the offensive end and put the ball into the back of the net. A minute later, the Golden Knights were able to repossess the ball and score once more. Down 4-7 halfway through the third quarter, the Brewers found their fire. With four minutes in the period, Thomas found Mullen open to the right of the net. Taking the space his defender gave him, Mullen set himself up at the low angle and powered an underhand shot into the far low corner of the net, cutting the deficit to just two Goals.

On the next Clarkson possession, Thomas caught an attacker with a check from behind, causing a turnover. First-year defender Zach Henig secured the loose ball, dodging his way by two Clarkson players for the successful clear. Fellow first-year Michael Killion provided the outlet for Henig, racing downfield. The passing sequence continued, as Killion found junior midfielder Evan Burns in front of the net. Burns threw an underhand shot past the goalie’s strong side low, for his first goal of the season.

The Brewers entered the fourth period down by two with fifteen minutes to play. Right off the bat, Clarkson’s highest-scoring player finished his third goal of the day. However, the Brewers refused to back down, and Vassar defenders held off the Golden Knights for 12 straight minutes, causing four turnovers to give the Brewers offensive opportunities. With over seven minutes in the last quarter, Stebel used his speed to trip up a defender and secure his second goal of the day with a powerful shot into the far side of the net. Vassar once again found themselves behind by a mere two points. Neither team could secure another goal until Clarkson powered their way into the center for one last score in the final minute of competition.

The Brewers’ goalkeepers both had strong roles in keeping their team in the game. Boyd has performed tremendously this season, racking up 127 saves for a .540 save percentage. Against Clarkson, the junior had six saves in the first half, while fellow junior goalkeeper Erik Mikelinich had eight saves in the latter two periods.

Despite this close loss, the Brewers have had strong performances in all of their matchups this year. Against five different top-20 teams throughout this season, Vassar has proven their ability to compete at the highest tiers. “It’s not like we are getting blown out,” Coach Graham agrees. “We just haven’t played a complete game and been able to finish four entire Quarters.”

The experienced head coach, voted part of the Liberty League Coaching Staff of the Year last season, noted shooting efficiency and winning ground balls as contributors to the tight loss. “Our shooting efficiency was not strong, with only 13 of our 28 shots being on goal. We had only five shots on goal in the second half, with only one in the fourth quarter. While we had an unusual struggle on faceoffs, I thought we also could have done a little better securing some of the loose balls on the draw.” However, these components are ones that the coach and players feel very capable of improving for the season’s final two conference games.

Playing with their usual intensity, the Brewers have the potential to win both of these matchups. Coach Graham said: “We need to stick together and support each other if we hope to finish strong and give ourselves a shot at Liberty League playoffs.Saturday is now a must-win game for us, so we have to pull out all the stops this week to prepare for the game and get the win.” The men will face off against Union College in Schenectady this Saturday at 1 p.m., and Skidmore College next Wednesday at 1 p.m. on Vassar turf.

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