Patrick Rivers, Assistant Sports Editor
The Utica College men’s lacrosse team lost to Ithaca College on Saturday. Final score: Ithaca 18, Utica 4. The game was the first of conference play this season. Ithaca played like the top 20 ranked program that they are.
“We need to just be more consistent, we’re making too many mental mistakes,” UC head coach Mike Parnell.
UC’s team is very young and many players were getting their first taste of Empire 8 action. It happened to be against one of the top teams in the conference.
“We have a lot of young guys that are playing. We got a lot of injuries,” Parnell said. “That’s two contributing factors.”
Parnell also highlighted the competition they will face this season.
“We play a really tough schedule, we have the 40th ranked schedule out of 238 teams,” he said. “That’s how we’re going to get better.”
He says his guys played tough, but Ithaca’s players were just a little bigger, faster, and stronger.
“Like I said, they’re a top 20 program and there’s a reason they’re in the top 20,” said Parnell. “You can’t turn the ball over against a team like that.”
Ten different players scored goals for Ithaca on the day. Kaelen Fitzpatrick had a career-high six goals to lead the Bombers. As a team, they have scored 15 or more goals in every game but one this season, good enough for third in the nation in scoring offense. The Bombers are also third in scoring defense, allowing just four goals per game.
UC’s four goals came from junior Brickman House, sophomore Nick Yelich, and freshman Bob Zattola. House scored two goals, while Yelich and Zattola added one apiece to cover the scoring for UC. Senior Andrew DiOrio tied his season high with 15 saves in the goal for the Pioneers. The goalies did their best, but Ithaca got too many shots at the net.
Junior Rusty Dessert summed the game up pretty quickly in terms of what happened.
“Turnovers, way too many turnovers,” he said.
The moral of the story for the Pioneers is they have to take care of the ball. Parnell says those turnovers were the result of careless play. Therefore, they will get back to the fundamentals in practice, particularly focusing on getting their attitudes better and getting everybody on the same page.
It has been a rough season up to this point, but it’s not too late to turn it around.
The Pioneers are now 1-6 on the year, and have some improvements to be made. They have upcoming games against Oswego State and Houghton College as they hope to get on the right track this season.
The Bombers improved to 7-1 on the season and will look to continue rolling into further conference play.
Ithaca’s team is very good, so the Pioneers have no reason to hang their heads.
Overall, UC was lucky enough to face one of its toughest opponents to begin conference play. They will use this game as a learning experience and try to correct their mistakes for future matchups.
Featured image; Pioneers lose first conference game to Ithaca last Saturday. Photo taken by Jeff Pexton