by Jared Prenda
The Catholic University of America’s Men’s Lacrosse team finally returned to action on Saturday, February 11th with a stellar 10-9 victory over the Sewanee University Tigers. The defending Landmark Conference champions look to repeat their efforts this season. The win puts the Cards off to a fantastic start, and paves the path to another stellar season.
The team has retained many of the key players who last year led the team all the way to the NCAA Division III tournament. The team is lead and captained by USILA All-American Tim Keith, who posted a career high 49 goals, 19 assists, and an impressive 68 in his junior year. The senior biomedical engineering major looks to post equally impressive stats this year, and began with a 5-point 4 goal effort on Saturday. Also, returning for the Cards is senior midfielder Victor Licata, who is coming off a junior season which earned him both IMLCA All-Region and First Team All-Landmark honors. He was one of two Cardinals to score multiple goals against Sewanee with 2 of his own.
The Cardinals look to better improve their regular season showing from last year, only going .500 in conference play and 11-7 overall.
The team started off the matchup strong against Sewanee, with Keith scoring the opening goal of the matchup off a turnover caused by sophomore Kyle McLaughlin. The Tigers responded almost instantaneously with an equalizer a minute and a half later. Catholic regained the lead less than two minutes later off a goal from senior Ethan Rodriguez. The first 15-minute quarter turned out to be a shootout, with 10 total goals ending in a 5-5 tie.
The 2nd quarter was quiet compared to the fireworks of the first, with no goals or assists for either side. The first half was one of cooperation for the Cards, with four separate players registering a goal.
Similarly to the first goal, the CUA team registered the first goal of the 2nd stanza on a hard shot from Licata to put Catholic on top, 6-5. That goal proved to be the catalyst the team needed and they went on to outscore the Tigers 3-1 in the period. The Birds entered the final quarter of play with an 8-6 lead, and continued to expand.
Catholic managed to score the opening point of the period once again on a shot from midfielder Jack Murphy, who already registered an assist on the afternoon. The teams continued to exchange volleys of goals until the final seconds of the game. The Sewanee side scored 2 straight goals, and were primed to score their 5th equalizer when a costly delay of game penalty with 18 seconds allowed Catholic to run out the clock.
This win leaves the team inspired as they look to repeat the magic of last year with another title, but this is not the only goal the Cards have set for themselves. Junior midfielder Matt Michalski believes the team is capable of much more, but is weary of the strong conference.
“I think we are using that as motivation knowing that all of the teams in our conference are going to try and beat us. Our ultimate goal definitely has to be to advance further into the NCAA tournament. We have been knocked out in the first round for the past two years. But this early into the season we are looking at it one game at a time and are not looking past any teams.”
CUA looked strong in their season opener, boasting a 10-9 win over Sewanee on the February afternoon. The team will continue their quest for a repeat this upcoming Saturday, February 18th at Randolph-Macon against the Yellow Jackets. The Cards vanquished the Jackets in last season’s match up 17-11, and hope to advance to 2-0 on the year.