Birmingham, AL – The Transylvania men's lacrosse team jumped out to an impressive first quarter start but could not sustain a promising beginning, as the Birmingham-Southern Panthers defeated the Pioneers, 15-9.
The Pioneers dropped to 1-4 after winning the opening game of their season against Piedmont. Transylvania bounced back from an 0-2 deficit to take a 3-2 lead at the end of the first quarter, but the Panthers battled back to tie the game by halftime and outscore the Pioneers in the second half 10 to 4.
Five different Pioneers took turns scoring each of their five goals in the first half, as Sam Ives provided the first goal for the Pioneers nearly halfway into the first quarter. The game went scoreless for the next five minutes before Zach Roby tied up the contest at two apiece with an unassisted goal at the 3:29 mark. Clark Watts then followed less than a minute later on a clever setup from Roby to secure the first lead of the night for the Pioneers.
The Pioneers and Panthers pushed back and forth in the second quarter as they exchanged three ties and two lead changes. The Panthers outscored the Pioneers 3-2 in the second quarter as a goal from Josh Mesmer at the 12:01 mark and Ben Erwin at the 1:11 mark kept Transylvania in the thick of the contest.
But Birmingham-Southern took charge early in the second half, scoring the first four goals of the half within the first six minutes of gameplay for a 9-5 lead. Transylvania ambitiously marched back with two straight goals, each by Watts as he completed a hat trick to cut the Panther advantage back down to two.
The Panthers created some breathing room in the fourth quarter with a goal to grow a 10-7 lead. Brendan Thompson took a feed from Mesmer and throttled the goal to make the game 10-8 in favor of the Panthers.
From there, the home team put Transylvania's chances of an upset bid to rest as the Panthers scored five straight goals to take a comfortable 15-8 lead with just 2:33 left in the game. Watts remained on point, collecting his fourth goal of the game and the final one in the contest for the Pioneers with 1:34 to go.
The Pioneers converted on 9 of their 15 shots on goal, but were overall outshot by the hosts, 39 to 24. Defensively both teams stood neck and neck as the Pios collected 31 ground balls to 32 by the Panthers. Cooper Fogle made eight saves on the night while facing 23 total shots.
Transylvania was 17-for-23 on clears, but just 1-for-7 in man up opportunities.
Despite the 1-4 start for Transylvania, they now head home for a three-game homestand as they enter Ohio River Lacrosse Conference play beginning with a March 19 home date versus St. Vincent. Transylvania then follows their Saturday date with a Tuesday, March 22 matchup against Oberlin, and then a Friday, March 25 home match against Washington & Jefferson.
The end of the March schedule for Transylvania could set the stage for a compelling and crucial April.
For the latest on the Transylvania Pioneers men's lacrosse program, follow them on twitter @Transy_Lax