The Vassar men’s lacrosse team traveled up to Clarkson University this past weekend for a clash between two programs in the Liberty League’s bottom half. Clarkson got on the board first, but Vassar was quick to answer with four goals in the first quarter, three of which came from the pocket of junior Mike Mullen, with first-year Logan Hyde adding the fourth.
The Brewers came out hot in the second quarter, too, with Mullen scoring again off a feed from senior James Thomas, and Hyde then scoring unassisted. Clarkson responded with two goals to cut the lead to 6-3, but Vassar extended the lead to 8-3 with another goal from Mullen and a first from sophomore Tomás Meade. Down five, the Golden Knights scored in the last 30 seconds of the first half to cut the deficit back to four.
The Brewers went into the second half with a four-goal lead but couldn’t hang on, with Clarkson outscoring Vassar 6-2 in the third quarter. After a three-goal run had put the Golden Knights ahead 11-10, first-year Connor Deehan finished off an unassisted shot to tie the game 11-11 with under 10 minutes left, but Clarkson answered right back with two more goals. With about seven minutes to go, Hyde put one more in the back of the net, but the game-tying goal proved elusive—Clarkson hung on for the 13-12 victory.
Although the outcome was not what the team wanted, the Brewers can take some positives from the game. Mullen paced the Brewers with six points off of five goals and one assist, which also pushed him over the 100-career point mark and into the top ten in program history. Hyde put up five points off of three goals and two assists, while Thomas added two goals and an assist. Junior Matthew Lowery won 22-of-29 faceoffs and picked up 13 ground balls. Senior Erik Mikelinich had eight saves in goal.
Head Coach John McCreery thought that the team battled hard against Clarkson, given the circumstances. “It is a hard environment to play in. Most away games are tough, but it’s always hard at Clarkson. We came out hot and got up on them 6-1, but Clarkson is a good team and found a way to get back into the game,” McCreery wrote over email. He felt that the offense, faceoffs and defense played well, but that the team needs to work on finishing games and playing from ahead.
Heading into their next game, an out-of-conference matchup against Hamilton College, McCreery wants his group to continue to focus on improving every day. “Specifically, we will be working on defensive schemes to stop their high-powered offense,” McCreery explained.
Mullen, who currently leads the Brewers attack with 36 points off of 28 goals and eight assists, feels that emphasizing particular aspects in practice has been paying off in games. “A large focus at practice for the offense has been moving the ball fast and never allowing the ball to get stuck in your stick for too long,” Mullen explained in an email. “At the start of the season we struggled a little bit moving the ball fast and creating offense, however as the season has progressed we’ve been moving the ball a lot faster and start[ing] to create chemistry with one another which has helped our offense tremendously.”
With only three games remaining in their season, the Brewers want to learn from the loss to Clarkson and quickly turn things around. “Our goal is to send the seniors out on a positive note and win the games for them,” said sophomore defender Stefan Fleps. “We want to make sure they leave feeling happy and that we…try our best to win for them.” Fleps is appreciative of the way the upperclassmen have brought the team together this season, creating a more positive culture. “The upperclassmen have successfully facilitated relationships with all classes and individual players,” Fleps noted. The bonds that form off the field directly translate to the team working together and playing as a cohesive unit. Fleps explained that that the whole group comes together to listen to their captains give pre-game speeches and chant “Brewers” right before they head out for a game.
McCreery’s players appreciate one another to an extent that reaches far beyond their play on the field. When asked what his favorite part about being on the men’s lacrosse team is, Mullen didn’t mention an exciting overtime win, or the spring break trip, but rather the friendships he has made with his e teammates. “It’s nice to know people that are going through the same experiences as me and are always there for me when I need them,” Mullen commented. “The friends that I have made on this lacrosse team are going to be friends of mine for life.”
The men’s lacrosse team has played a tough schedule in and out of conference, matching up against some of the best teams in the nation. With just three games left in the regular season, the Brewers hope to finish strong and pick up a few wins. In order to do so, McCreery just wants the team to keep building off the groundwork they have been laying all season. “We are constantly working on team culture and building a strong foundation. Part of that work is playing together as a team and winning together. We want to win out.”