Competing in its first game in program history at the Division I level, the Boston University men’s lacrosse team fell to Mercer University, 17-6 Saturday in Macon, Ga.
The Terriers’ (0-1) offense started out the game strong as freshman midfielder Sam Talkow won the opening faceoff.
But at the 7:37 mark of the first quarter, the Bears (1-0) capitalized on a BU turnover. Attacker Chris Baxa scored the first of his four goals of the afternoon, whipping the ball past freshman goalkeeper Christian Carson-Barrister.
Later in the quarter, freshman attack Ryan Johnston was penalized for holding, giving the Bears a man advantage. Thirty seconds later, attacker James Tautkus scored on an assist from Baxa, giving Mercer a 2-0 advantage.
Freshman attack Pat Myers finally put BU on the board with nine seconds remaining in the quarter, slipping the ball past Mercer goalkeeper Mike Nugent for the program’s first-ever goal. Despite outshooting the Bears 13-2 in the first quarter, the Terriers found themselves down 2-1.
BU fed off of the momentum from Myers’ goal early in the second quarter and not even a minute after Talkow won yet another faceoff, freshman midfielder Cal Dearth knotted up the score at two.
Talkow won his first eight faceoffs, and went 15-21 on the afternoon. His play proved to be a bright spot for the team.
“Sam and [sophomore midfielder] Elliott Burr are both outstanding faceoff guys,” said BU coach Ryan Polley. “Sam just had a little bit better scrimmages statistically and he was doing a nice job so we decided to start him and he just got hot.”
After Dearth’s goal, the BU attack peppered Nugent three-straight shots. Nugent held strong, however, and the Bears successfully cleared the ball.
On the ensuing possession for Mercer, junior Eric Yoggy scored to break the tie and effectively flipped the momentum of the game.
Myers scored again at the 6:36 on an extra-man opportunity to bring the Terriers to within one. The Maryland native had two goals to go along with an assist and two ground balls.
“[Myers] was excellent, he had a great game aside from his two goals and one assist,” Polley said. “He had another shot that hit the post and he made some great plays and got everyone involved … He was very, very tough … It’s something that we had been working with Pat on, to make those tough plays and get good opportunities on the cage”
Following the Myers goal, the Mercer offense scored four unanswered goals to end the quarter up 8-3.
In the third frame, the Bears further exerted their dominance, outscoring BU 4-1. Freshman midfielder James Clarke provided the lone goal for BU with 10:13 to go in the quarter.
Entering the final 15 minutes of action down 12-4, BU showed its collective youth, committing seven turnovers and three penalties, while letting up four goals. Turnovers proved to be a huge story throughout the match, with Terriers committing 21 turnovers while only forcing 12 from Mercer.
“Our team, and I need to do a better job of keeping our team composed,” Polley said. “To be outshooting them at one point, 25-5, and be losing was something that was hard for us. We got a little away from the process and made some mistakes offensively, defensively in transition.
“It was a little upsetting that the score was the way it was after frankly, holding the play for some time, and we just have to be able to respond a little bit better.”
To cap things off for the Terriers, freshmen attack Clay Philips and Adam Schaal each scored the first goals of their BU careers to bring the final score to 17-6 in favor of the Bears.
The BU offense outshot the Bears 40-27, but continually struggled to finish its chances. The stellar play of Nugent did not help things for the Terriers, as he recorded 10 saves on 16 shots.
The overall maturity of Mercer in contrast to the Terriers’ youth was something that Polley pointed to when discussing his team’s effort.
“They’re an established team,” Polley said. “Their roster is littered with juniors and seniors who have played four years of college lacrosse. They were a bit more physical than we were.”
Although the score proved disappointing, Polley said that the Terriers could learn a lot from their performance against the Bears as they move forward in their inaugural season.
“There’s a lot to build on,” Polley said. “The faceoff play was fabulous. The way we came out was great. We just have to learn from our mistakes. You want to be playing your best lacrosse at the end of the season and we had so many players playing their first Division I game.
“Overall, it’s not the result we want, but there’s a lot of positives that we can build upon going into next week.”