STEUBENVILLE, Ohio – Windy conditions, sudden downpours, and a small field didn't stop the Franciscan University men's lacrosse team as they played a strong game against Southwestern Texas University 16-4. Holding their own in the first half, the Barons fought to remain within three but a series of second half falters cost them eleven goals.
"The guys were really solid today in their attitude," head coach Pete Rosaschi said. "We played a really strong game especially in the first half. We were right in it and just have to cut down on our mistakes because that's what cost us."
Southwestern was off to a quick start winning the opening faceoff and scoring fifteen seconds into the game. Then the Barons slowed the game down and held a strong possession resulting in a shot from goal-line-extended by freshman attack Luke Gilman that just missed.
The Barons first goal came from freshman newcomer Joe Francis. With five minutes left in the game Francis won a ground ball off a clear and headed straight for the net. One on one with the goalie he slammed the ball into the far left side for a Baron goal.
Four minutes into the second quarter Francis had his second goal of the game assisted by Gilman in the middle of a ten minute long downpour that thoroughly soaked each team for the rest of the game.
"Joe Francis, the sniper, is coming out of nowhere," Rosaschi said. "We're really happy to see that."
Despite Francis's goals, Franciscan was unable to take advantage of a slew of SU fouls and multiple man-up opportunities. However, a strong defensive performance kept the Barons in the game, giving up only one goal in the second quarter (5-2).
"It's a matter of being patient on the man-ups," Rosaschi said. "It's about not taking the first shot but taking the best shot."
In the second half, the Baron's mistakes began to let Southwestern pull away. Defensive breakdowns combined with just one faceoff win out of eight, led to six third quarter Pirate goals.
"Two things hurt us right now, our inexperience and lack of depth," Rosaschi said. "When the other teams make adjustments our lack of experience comes out in our new players. We work well as a team but we can't hide the inexperience forever."
Despite a grueling second half the Barons finished with an highlight-reel goal at the end of the fourth quarter. With under two minutes left Gilman received a clear at half field from freshman goalie Jonah Soucy.
After outrunning a defender at the 40 yard line, the freshman pulled a smooth roll dodge at full speed to lose the only defender standing between him and the goal; a quick shot right into the corner gave the Barons their fourth goal of the game.
While Soucy wasn't credited with an assist on the play, he still had one of his best games of the year. The freshman keeper finished with twenty saves overall and was over fifty five percent in save percentages. Soucy also led FUS in their clearing game, with Franciscan converting on 19 of 22 clears.
"Our clears were awesome," Rosaschi said. "Jonah saw the ball the entire game and had one of his best games."
While the final score wasn't ideal, Rosaschi said he was happy with his team's improvement throughout the season and how they handle a rather bizarre day of ever changing weather.
"We just have to get a deeper bench and it's going to take time, it's just not going to happen in one year," Rosaschi said. "This was a day St. Francis would be proud of as he said 'Go build my church' and we just have to take it one day at a time and work for the glory of God."
The Barons remain home for their next game against Baldwin Wallace University on April 7, at 4 p.m.