The Slippery Rock University lacrosse team completed a huge upset victory over sixth ranked Mercyhurst University Wednesday to keep their playoff hopes alive.
The Rock defeated Mercyhurst 11-9.
“I am extremely proud of this team,” SRU head coach Emily Hopkins said. “This is the proudest moment I’ve had as a coach, we executed the game plan flawlessly and played as a team for all 60 minutes.”
It was an emotional win, as Jess Verbic made her season debut, scoring two goals in the process. Verbic missed the entire season leading up to Wednesday due to personal reasons.
Verbic returned to her teammates on Monday, suited up and played well, despite only having two practices in two months before the game. Verbic’s two goals couldn’t have come at a better time. The first came with 15:08 remaining in the second half, which ended a 4-0 run by Mercyhurst. This sparked a 5-0 run by the Rock to give them the lead, and the second came with 51 seconds left in the game, giving SRU a 10-9 lead.
Both offenses started off slow, taking a 2-2 tie into the half, but then SRU and Mercyhurst came alive in the second half, with the Rock winning the second half surge 9-7.
Although SRU had a disadvantage in total shots, shots on goal and ground balls, they had a large advantage in draw controls. Hopkins said the game plan was to play keep-away with the ball, and the first key to that is winning the draw.
There were many contributors in the win. Erin Wilcox netted three goals, giving her 50 on the year.
Kaytlin Callaghan had one goal and two assists. Paige Costantino had one goal and two assists. Chynna Chan and Jasey Sanders each had one goal.
Callaghan set a school record in total assists in a season with 25, and she is one point shy of tying the SRU record for points in a season with one game remaining against Lockhaven University.
Jordan Wagner had a solid game in the net, recording nine saves for her ninth win of the season.
The Rock now sits in the sixth and final playoff spot with a 9-7 record and are 7-4 in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference.
This is the Green and White’s first win over Mercyhurst ever, and it couldn’t have come at a better time with the Rock jockeying for playoff position.
“The feeling we have in the locker room right now is indescribable,” Costantino said. “It is almost surreal that we beat the sixth-ranked team in Division II. We have the confidence to take down Lockhaven and make the playoffs.”
To make the PSAC playoffs, SRU must beat second-ranked Lockhaven Saturday and Bloomsburg University needs to lose to Millersville University, since they hold the tie breaker over the Rock.
SRU will await the outcome of a the Bloomsburg game.