Fresno State lacrosse surged late in their home-opener to earn a victory against Mercer University.
Fresno State’s largest lead was four goals, and that was the lead they finished the game with, beating the Bears 15-11.
The ‘Dogs spent the majority of the game trading leads with the Bears. Both teams struggled to establish anything more than a one or two goal lead. But towards the end of the second half, the Bulldogs found the net four times in a row to establish a 14-10 lead and secure the victory.
“We play with a lot of heart. These girls, they want to win, and they want to make Fresno State proud,” said head coach Jessica Giglio.
The goals did not come easy for either team. Both defenses swarmed their opponent, and the game grew extremely physical at times. Faces were walloped with lacrosse sticks, bodies were pushed to the ground, but Fresno State showed poise in the face of all the physicality.
Attacker Tiffiny Wallace said their defense’s style of play comes as no surprise.
“Our defense is a pretty physical unit. We see it in practice pretty much every day, so we’re kind of used to it,” Wallace said.
The physical play worked in favor of the ‘Dogs, visibly frustrating some of Mercer’s players, and causing 18 of Mercer’s 23 turnovers. Defender Olivia Mannon was responsible for a team-high five caused turnovers.
“We changed our ride a little bit from Sunday too. We changed that, and it got us to cause turnovers, which allowed us to get some goals, which is always a great feeling,” Giglio said.
The defense did struggle to stop some of the Bears’ offensive threats early on. Attacker Erika Coyne dominated the ‘Dogs in the early part of the second half.
Coyne cut with purpose and placed herself in positions where she could make a difference on offense, resulting in four goals.. But Fresno State was able to slow her down when they gave defender Kennedy Mulvaney the task of defending Coyne.
“[Coyne’s] a really good cutter. They want to give her the ball and we knew that,” Giglio said. “We just had a never-say-die attitude on defense today and it showed when we started shutting her down.”
The ‘Dogs made sure to capitalize on the opportunities created by their defense. Each ground ball they chalked caused the entire team sprint forward for the attacking opportunity.
Giglio said their offensive pace was a focus heading into this game, and she felt like the team was successful in that aspect.
The coach added that their cutters were not as effective as she wanted them to be in the first half.
Attacker Sarah Bloise said the offensive effort was team-driven.
“We came in with the idea of having each other’s backs. If a ball went down, it was a swarm. If someone missed their feed, we were all there. If someone missed their shot, we encouraged them to get the next one,” Bloise said. “It was just a full team effort.”
The ‘Dogs hope to bring their momentum from their victory into the home game against Vanderbilt on Monday.