Men's Lacrosse Ends Long Slide in Home Opener

Wednesday, February 27, 2013 - page 2

celebration It was a win a long time in coming.

The Muhlenberg men’s lacrosse team scored the final two goals of the game to edge Susquehanna, 7-6, in its home opener. It was the first win for the Mules since they beat Susquehanna on the last Wednesday of last February – a span covering 363 days and 13 games.

“This is the happiest we’ve been in a while,” said sophomore Jon Thomas, who scored the game-winning goal with 2:47 remaining. “All the hard work we put in in the offseason finally paid off.”

The win didn’t come easily: Despite advantages of 43-23 in shots and 43-25 in ground balls, Muhlenberg (1-2) needed to come from behind twice, the first time after giving up two goals 15 seconds apart midway through the first quarter, and the second in the final period.

Doug Rheiner
Rheiner went airborne early in the third quarter for his second goal of the game, en route to his second consecutive hat trick.
“The biggest thing is that we never gave up,” said sophomore Adam Schlauch, who made seven saves in recording his first career win. “Last year there were times when we got down and ... basically gave up. I’m extremely proud that we didn’t give up ever.”

Thomas and Rheiner combined for six of the seven Mule goals, each recording a hat trick. The other goal was scored by senior Kyle Houston, who gave the team a big lift in the second quarter. He snagged a rebound and fed Rheiner for a goal that tied the score at 3-3, then netted his first career goal with 2:10 left in the half to give Muhlenberg a 4-3 lead.

The Mules were up 5-3 before the Crusaders (1-1) tallied three straight goals to take a 6-5 lead six minutes into the fourth quarter. Muhlenberg was called for a slash after the last goal, but senior Ian Jones won the ensuing faceoff, and the Mules ran out the one-minute penalty.

Muhlenberg held possession for the next minute-and-a-half until Rheiner took a pass on the left side, skipped into the middle of the field and fired a shot into the lower-right corner from about 12 yards out to tie the score with 6:34 left.

Ian Jones
Jones is 42-for-57 (.737) on faceoffs through three games.
The teams traded possessions several times in the next few minutes. Susquehanna was moving the ball around with about three minutes left when senior James Coleman intercepted a pass behind the cage. He passed the ball ahead to Thomas, who did the rest, sprinting 70 yards along the right sideline before burying his shot.

“I was going to pass, but the guy slid off, so I just put it in the bottom corner,” said Thomas.

The game wasn’t over yet. With the 30-second clock winding down, Muhlenberg had to take a shot with about 1:30 to play. It was saved, and after the Crusaders cleared the ball, the Mules were called for a penalty with 54.4 seconds left. But Susquehanna could get off only three shots from tough angles, and when the last one bounced wide as the final whistle sounded, Muhlenberg had its long-awaited win.

“My defense did an absolutely incredible job keeping the ball out of the center and only allowing those outside shots,” said Schlauch.

Senior Ian de Ruiter led the defense with five ground balls, while Coleman caused three turnovers. Jones went 10-for-14 on faceoffs, picked up 12 ground balls and caused three turnovers.

But one stat that can’t be measured is the confidence the Mules now have that they can win close games.

“When it got to around 1:30 left, I got the feeling that we would close it out,” said Schlauch. “We did, and it feels incredible.”
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