ELIZABETHTOWN, Pa. – Goals and points get the glamor, but the Elizabethtown men’s lacrosse team isn’t in the business of winning beauty pageants. Saturday afternoon senior Matt Frey and the Blue Jay defense stepped up and shoved two-time defending Landmark Conference champion Susquehanna out of the ranks of the unbeaten with a 7-5 victory on the turf at Wolf Field in their league debut.
Frey, coming off back-to-back all-conference seasons, punished the Crusaders’ attackmen all game long, finishing with five caused turnovers and eight ground balls, each total one shy of tying a career-high.
Even when the Blue Jays (5-2, 1-0 Landmark) weren’t flipping possession, they were cutting off Susquehanna’s path to the goal and frustrating a team that three days earlier beat No. 18 Franklin & Marshall, 7-6, in double overtime for its first ever win over a ranked opponent.
Susquehanna looked very much like the conference preseason favorite when it brushed off goals from Nick Specht (12:59) and Kevin Meakim (8:50) to score three unanswered and take a 3-2 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The Blue and Gray played smart lacrosse, though, and adjusted to the looks the Crusaders (6-1, 0-1 Landmark) were giving them.
Meakim took a pass from scoring leader Joe Clark and ripped a shot from about 15-yards out on the right side to tie the game at three with 11:26 left before halftime. A few minutes later, junior Steve Nutting got a feed from Luke Stephens and went downstairs to sneak one past SU goalie Jared Knowlton.
Elizabethtown, which was 18-of-18 on clears, continued to make the most of its possessions early in the second half. Mike Specht (10:49 and Clark (8:44) scored unassisted goals to pad the lead to 6-3, before Phil Lapone’s 10th of the season brought Susquehanna back within two at the end of the third.
The Crusaders hopes of a second straight late-game comeback were dashed when they turned it over six times and managed just three shots in the pivotal fourth quarter.
Davis Miracle, a sophomore who returned to the team this year after being away from school for a couple of semesters, made six saves in place of an injured Chris Wenger for his first career win. Miracle shook off some early jitters to stop five of the Crusaders’ seven shots on goal from the second quarter on.
With less than five minutes to go, a laser from Cody Larkin found twine for a 7-4 E-town lead, as the sophomore raised his hands to the sky.
Stephens joined Frey with a big defensive game, causing a pair of turnovers and scooping up four ground balls. Nick Specht and Meakim had four ground balls; Dillon McDevitt and Clark had three each. Elizabethtown leads the Landmark with a 4.95 goals against average by almost 1.5 goals per game.
E-town neutralized Susquehanna at the face-off dot, where David Latimore was 3-of-6, Matt Rucci 3-of-8 and Jason Kelley 1-of-1. The Crusaders held a slight 8-7 edge.
Clark enjoyed his sixth straight multi-point game with a goal and three assists. The Hershey native moved into the league lead in points with 27 and still tops it in goals with 17.
Elizabethtown improved to 9-0 all-time against the Crusaders, but Saturday’s meeting was the first between the two programs since 2008. The Blue Jays will go for another quality win when they host No. 16 York (Pa.) Wednesday afternoon at 4.
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