Keith Euker and his McDaniel men’s lacrosse players left the field at Kenneth R. Gill Stadium to cheers from a small yet spirited group of students standing just outside the locker room.
Euker slapped hands with many of the rowdies as they chanted his name, and he thanked them for braving the cold temperatures Wednesday night for the Green Terror’s game against Frostburg.
If the Terror play the rest of the season like they did against the Bobcats, Euker and his men figure to be seeing much more from the McDaniel faithful.
Backed by a stellar defensive effort, the Green Terror held on for a 6-5 win, their third win in the first five games of the year.
“I feel like we’re making some progress,” said freshman defender Joey Conklin, a Westminster graduate who has started every game so far. “We know that we’re going to shock some people when we get out there in the [Centennial] conference play. We’re ready for it.”
Conklin led McDaniel (3-2) with four ground balls and three caused turnovers, and he helped anchor a young back row. Fellow freshman Zach Shrift joined Conklin in the starting lineup, along with junior Cole Ostendorf and sophomore goalie Jakob Katzen.
McDaniel’s defense held down a Frostburg offense that came in averaging 10.5 goals per game.
Euker has the youngest team since he arrived on the Hill three years ago — the Terror have three seniors on their 32-man roster. But the coach said posting wins like Wednesday’s can go a long way toward season-long success.
“Confidence is big when you talk about a young team,” Euker said. “I think offensively, we’re really starting to find ourselves in terms of who we are. Defensively, we have a little bit of swagger because because we’ve had some success in the last few games.
“But it’s nice to be able to finally put a full game together.”
McDaniel never trailed but the Bobcats (2-3) stayed close all night. They tied the score three times, and scored twice within the first two minutes of the third quarter.
Adam Gross netted his second goal with 12:22 to play in the quarter and Frostburg drew even at 5-5. Defense carried the remainder of the quarter until junior midfielder Jared Payne gave the Green Terror a 6-5 lead with 21 seconds to go.
That was the last goal of the contest, and McDaniel took advantage of a few Frostburg turnovers in the final minutes to help preserve the win.
Katzen pitched in too with six saves, the last of which came with 6:13 to play when Gross tried to tie the game once more.
Payne had two goals for McDaniel, while sophomore midfielder Bryce Brookhart added a goal and an assist. Michael Long, a Hampstead native and a senior attackman, notched a goal in victory.
Sam Camponeschi (Manchester Valley), a senior midfielder, made a start for Frostburg, which hadn’t lost to McDaniel since 1974 (the all-time series went on a long hiatus and resumed in 2014; the Terror lead it 7-5).
McDaniel opened the season Feb. 21 with a 13-6 win over Immaculata, then fell to No. 5-ranked York 16-8 three days later. Goucher came to town Feb. 28 and escaped with a 5-4 win, and Euker was searching for more consistency on offense.
He got it Saturday against Ohio Northern — the Green Terror outscored the Polar Bears 4-0 in the fourth quarter and rallied for an 11-8 win, sparked by four goals from freshman attackman Micah Brooks.
“The team started jelling, actually, in the fall,” Euker said. “That’s something we put a precedent on … making sure that we welcomed the guys in. The upperclassmen have done a very good job of that.”
Five juniors chip in with the trio of seniors to provide that leadership, something that will likely be needed when Centennial play begins March 24.
Gettysburg (fifth), preseason conference favorite Franklin & Marshall (11th), and Dickinson (13th) are all ranked in the most recent USILA Coaches Top 25 poll.
McDaniel will be trying to find its place and prove wrong the folks that picked it to finish next-to-last in the Centennial this spring.
“I think we’re playing well right now,” Conklin said. “I think we’re starting to jell now, and it’s starting to come together … we’re looking good.”