Lexington, Ky. – The Transylvania men's lacrosse team put the finishing touches on its third consecutive Ohio River Men's Lacrosse Conference regular season title with a 15-3 victory over the Thiel College Tomcats Saturday afternoon at Pat Deacon Stadium.
A celebratory afternoon that began with a senior day ceremony honoring eight outgoing seniors ended with the Pioneers celebrating their third straight regular season conference championship, completing a 7-0 run through the ORLC in 2017.
It was the first undefeated run through conference play for the Pioneers in their three-year reign after going 6-1 in 2016 and 5-1 in 2015, as they clinched the outright No. 1 seed in the upcoming ORLC Conference tournament.
This year, the ORLC, now in its third year of existence, is awarding for the first time an automatic qualifying bid into the NCAA Division III Men's Lacrosse Tournament to the winner of the conference tournament. Thus, Saturday's victory proves crucial for the Pioneers in their march towards their first-ever NCAA Tournament berth.
Before Saturday's crucial game got underway, eight Pioneers were honored in a ceremony just before the start of play as the afternoon began with a festive tone.
The game got off to an emotional start as senior midfielder Gus Burge, who has missed his entire senior season due to injury, took the field and record a start in his final regular-season game as a Pioneer.
Offensively, the Pioneers were led by junior midfielder Josh Mesmer, who scored a hat-trick in the Pioneer victory.
Freshman attacker Trenton Sneed built upon his strong first year in Lexington, as he assisted on two Transylvania goals and grabbed three ground balls in the victory. Sneed now leads the ORLC with 32 assists on the season.
Senior attacker Clark Watts led off the scoring when he rocketed a shot into the back of the net less than 90 seconds into the contest.
After a goal by the Bobcats, the Pioneers responded with a stretch of four straight goals over the next six minutes, including a goal by freshman midfielder Jack Stevenson, who would later score a second goal to secure the first multi-goal game of his young career.
The second quarter belonged to the Pioneers as Watts, senior midfielder David Smith, and freshman face-off midfielder Kris Stone combined to outscore the Presidents 3-0, pushing the halftime lead to 8-2 in favor of Transylvania.
Mesmer added his second goal of the day just seconds into the third quarter, raising the Pioneers lead to 9-2. After a Thiel goal at the 9:14 mark, Transylvania scored three straight goals to end the third quarter ahead 12-3.
The Pioneer defense continued to hold strong throughout the fourth quarter, while the Transylvania offense added three more goals, pushing the final score to 15-3.
Senior goalkeeper Cooper Fogle performed admirably for the Pioneers, as he recorded six saves while only giving up three goals in his final regular season start at Pat Deacon Stadium. The reigning ORLC Defensive Player of the Year, Fogle continues to lead the ORLC in goals against average by giving up just 5.57 goals per game.
Conference tournament time now awaits the Pioneers, who will host tournament No. 4 seed Washington and Jefferson on Wednesday night, May 3, in the ORLC semifinals.
Opening face-off between the Pioneers and the Presidents is set for 5:00 p.m. at Pat Deacon Stadium. The winner of the conference semifinal matchup will advance to play in Saturday's conference championship game for the inaugural conference bid into the NCAA Tournament.
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