Pat Rivers, Assistant Sports Editor
The Utica College lacrosse team won its first conference game this season on Saturday. The Pioneers defeated Houghton 22-5 behind great execution on both sides of the ball.
Head Coach Mike Parnell said it was a great day overall for his program.
“It was a team effort, both sides of the ball, offense and defense played really well. And it was good for us to get a win where everybody got a chance to play,” Parnell said.
This year’s lacrosse team is fairly young in terms of experience. The Pioneers have 15 freshmen on the roster and many of them were able to get their first chance to really show Parnell what they can do.
The team was led by freshmen Dominic Castiglia who tallied nine total points on five goals and four assists. Nine other Pioneers scored goals on the day including Craig DiSanto, Ryan Desveaux, Patrick Mulligan, Xavier Perron, Tyler Nicolaus, Brandon Tracz, Nicholas Horne, Bob Zattola, and Nick Yelich.
Eight of the ten players who scored goals for the Pioneers are either freshmen or sophomores. The team has struggled so far this season and this game could mark a turnaround for the rest of the season. One thing that held the Pioneers back early this year was inexperience. Yet, now halfway through the season; they hope to have gained some chemistry which will lead to more wins.
“It was really nice for everybody to play and for us to get our first win in the Empire 8,” said sophomore Brandon Tracz who scored his second goal of the season in the fourth quarter adding fuel to the fire as UC had already led 18-2 at one point in the third.
When this game was all set and done, the respective teams did a prayer together as it is a Houghton College tradition. Win or lose, Houghton prays with its opponents in support of their catholic following. UC players had a choice of whether or not they would join the prayer because religious views cannot be forced upon anyone.
“I go to church, so I joined the prayer after the game, it was nice. A humbling experience,” said freshman Dorkim Simeona.
Parnell added his thoughts on the prayer also.
“Win or lose, it kind of puts the whole sportsmanship idea and everything into perspective,” he said. “It’s a unique atmosphere there.”
The Pioneers moved to 2-7 on the year and Houghton is looking at a 2-6 record. Both programs are hoping to get a few more wins under their belt before it’s all set and done.
Next up for UC they’ll be traveling to Alfred University to take on the Saxons in another Empire 8 conference matchup. This game has playoff implications and the Pioneers are working hard in preparation of a repeat performance of the game against Houghton.
UC is currently sitting at 1-1 in the conference and although it may not seem so, there is a big difference between a 1-2 record and 2-1 record. The Pioneers undoubtedly need this game to fall under the win column.
Parnell is extremely confident that they can come away with a victory. He believes his guys are just tired of losing.
Featured image; Ryan Jordan and the UC men’s lacrosse team defeated Houghton College in convincing fashion, outscoring the Highlanders by 17 goals. Photo by Jeff Pexton.