A number of factors – being on the wrong end of the ground ball and shot battles and having problems with the man-up offense and man-down defense – played a collaborative role in Goucher's 16-7 loss to Washington College on Saturday. But if there is one lesson Gophers coach Brian Kelly can glean from the season opener, it’s that the problems can be addressed and fixed.
“They’re definitely correctable mistakes,” he said Tuesday morning. “For 30 minutes, what Goucher lacrosse was all about was effective. We executed and did things the right way and had a 5-4 lead [at halftime]. When guys were unfortunately making mistakes and not executing our system, we went from a 5-4 lead to getting our butts kicked.”
As Kelly said, the Gophers actually held a slight 5-4 lead at intermission against the Shoremen, who fell to eventual Division III national champion Stevenson in the second round of last year’s NCAA tournament and moved from No. 9 to No. 8 in the latest United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association poll.
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But Washington College scored five unanswered goals to open the third quarter and pull away in the second half. The inability to preserve and even extend that halftime advantage wasn’t lost on Kelly.
“We had the ball coming out of the halftime because we had done a good job on man-down defense, stopping them before the half, and so we had an opportunity to clear the ball, and we turned it over,” he recalled. “They got the ball back with 12 seconds [left in the man-up chance], we didn’t execute our system, and they scored a goal. In a span of 30 seconds, we went from being up 5-4 to being tied. And then they scored the next one and we continued to make mistakes, and they capitalized on them. … It was really a tale of two halves. So it was certainly a missed opportunity.”
Goucher will take on another ranked opponent on Wednesday when No. 19 Gettysburg (1-0) visits Beldon Field in Towson. While the Gophers won’t have much time to lick their wounds, they have a chance to turn the tide quickly.
“We lost our first game in a game that is one of I think 14 games this year,” Kelly said. “So I think we can learn a lot from the mistakes that we made in the second half.”