Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 5/7/15
From Press Release
The most successful four-year span in Eastern University Men’s Lacrosse program history had its final chapter written on Wednesday evening in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
The No. 19 Eagles, playing in their third NCAA Tournament in the past four seasons, fell to the No. 7 Stevenson University Mustangs 12-5. Eastern, graduating 11 seniors (eight starters), has gone 57-16 in the last four years. This class is the first group Eagles’ four-year head coach Kevin Wallace has had from start to finish.
“They’re a great group of guys and they showed tonight why they’re so special,” he said. “They should be proud of everything they’ve accomplished. I’m definitely going to miss them and now it’s time to bring in a new group and hopefully do the same things with them.”
Eastern stung the Mustangs with the first goal of Friday’s game, a transition goal by Eric Waibel (Avon Grove) with 6:38 to play in the first. Stevenson, however, scored right away off the resulting faceoff and picked Eastern apart through the rest of the first half to establish a 9-2 lead by halftime. The Eagles only won one faceoff in the first half, had five failed clears, and turned the ball over 12 times.
Wallace liked the warrior mentality his team showed in the second half but recognized the need to put an entire game together. “We had a bad second quarter, and that was the game,” he said. “We could have easily given up at halftime down 9-2, but we didn’t. We tied the second half 3-3. We can’t just put one-and-a-half quarters together against a top-tier opponent. Stevenson is a great program and that’s what we’re aspiring to be.”
Stevenson peppered the Eagles with 52 shots. Mustang Tony Rossi recorded a game-high three goals. Connor Curro and Matt Tompkins each added two goals.
Eastern senior attackmen Grant Ferguson and Waibel each scored twice, and junior midfielder Dez Decker tallied the other goal and had an assist. Jake Billera, Mark Cyron (Salesianum School) and Kenny Meury also had an assist.
Ferguson wraps up his career with 188 goals, by far the most in Eastern history, and is the all-time leader in points at Eastern with 254. Ferguson’s attack mates of Waibel and David Darling all graduate with 100-plus goals to finish second and third overall in the program’s history. Waibel scored 118 goals and had 30 assists for 148 career points. Darling netted 117 goals and dealt out 104 assists for 221 career points. He recorded 174 of those points in the last two seasons.
Trailing 4-1 after the first quarter, Eastern had a successful clear after a Stevenson miss that led to Kenny Meury finding Ferguson for the Eagles’ second goal of the game with 13:46 to go in the second quarter. Ferguson whipped the shot from straight on, about 15-yards out. The Eagles wouldn’t find the back of the net again until 6:32 in the third quarter when Waibel scored his second of the game, a falling low-to-high shot in traffic.
Stevenson scored to close out the third and start the fourth, but Eastern got two back within 45 seconds in the fourth quarter. Ferguson slipped in behind Stevenson’s defense, caught a pass from Decker, juked the goalie and dumped in his 51st goal of the season. Eastern’s Joe Palo won the next faceoff and then Decker scored after recovering his own miss to make it a 12-5 contest with 9:24 to play. Neither team found the back of the net the rest of the night. Mustangs’ goalie Connor Skeen recorded 12 saves, and Eastern senior goalie Nick DiPiano finished with 16 saves.
The Eagles (15-4) will have plenty of opportunities for younger players to step up next year and write a new chapter of success. The Eagles graduate goalie Nick DiPiano (Great Valley), attackmen David Darling, Grant Ferguson, Waibel and Cody Ridgway (Methacton), midfielders Kyle Gillam (Sun Valley), Andrew Travers and Kyle Lansey, faceoff specialist Joe Palo (Hatboro-Horsham) and defenders Cyron and Jordan Norris.