Mercier leads Panthers with six-point effort
BIDDEFORD, Maine – Sophomore Chase Mercier (Boscawen, N.H.) scored three goals and added three assists as Plymouth State University held off the University of New England, 12-11, in a non-conference men's lacrosse game at UNE Blue Bolt Field on Thursday afternoon.
Plymouth State overcame an early 2-0 deficit to take a 5-3 lead after the first quarter and the Panthers went into the halftime break with an 8-7 advantage. UNE tied the game in the opening minute of the third quarter, but the Panthers went up on Mercier's second goal with just ten seconds left in the frame. PSU tallied three straight goals, including Mercier's third, through the middle stages of the final 15 minutes to push the lead to 12-9, but the Nor'easters rallied with two goals in the final two minutes. UNE had a shot at a game-tying goal in the final seconds, but a Panther defender blocked the shot and PSU recovered the ground ball.
Senior Casey Elkins (Stow, Mass.) and sophomore Connor Delea (Manchester, N.H.) each added three goals apiece, while senior Paul Luongo (Northborough, Mass.) added a pair of tallies. Senior goalie Zel Kerkel (Loudon, N.H.) made 16 saves to earn the win.
Plymouth State improves to 1-0, while the Nor'easters dip to 1-2 on the year.
The Final Score:
Plymouth State 12, UNE 11
Plymouth State (1-0)
How it Happened:
* UNE jumped out to a 2-0 lead after the first 2:12, but Elkins answered with the Panthers' first goal of the season just 1:24 later.
* Delea, PSU's top goal-scorer a year ago, recorded his first of the game to bring the Panthers even after six minutes of action, but the Nor'easters went back on top with a man-up tally with 6:45 left in the opening quarter.
* Plymouth State answered with three goals in a three-minute span to pull ahead. Luongo tied the game at 3-3 with 5:56 to play, Mercier gave the Panthers a lead just 83 seconds later and junior Trevor Gagnon (Pelham, N.H.) capped the run to give PSU a 5-3 advantage with 3:07 left in the frame.
* Elkins notched his second of the afternoon as Plymouth extended its lead just over five minutes into the second, but UNE answered just 38 seconds later.
The teams traded goals through the second quarter and Luongo's second of the game gave the Panthers an 8-5 lead with 1:54 left in the half. The hosts added a pair of tallies in the final minutes to make it an 8-7 game at halftime.
* The Nor'easters pulled even on senior Mitch Mullin's (Cumberland, Maine) third goal of the day 45 seconds into the third quarter. The action went back-and-forth for the rest of the frame until Mercier scored with just 10 seconds left in quarter to give the Panthers a 9-8 lead heading into the final 15 minutes.
* Again the hosts pulled even when junior Noah Luccini (Hopedale, Mass.) scored in the opening minute of the fourth quarter, but Mercier struck again when he made a move around a defender, then snapped a shot to the top left corner with 8:28 remaining.
* Delea picked up a loose ball and fired a shot over his shoulder to make it 11-9 just 38 seconds later, and Elkins' man-up marker proved to be the game-winner with 5:22 left to play.
* The Nor'easters fought back to cut the deficit to 12-11 with 47 seconds to play. Clinging to the one-goal lead, a PSU blocked UNE's game-tying shot attempt in the final seconds to hold on for the win.
Inside the Numbers:
* Mercier added five ground balls to his six points, while junior Chuck Harrington (Walpole, Mass.) led the team with six ground balls.
* Sophomore Erik Nome (Hebron, Conn.) picked up five ground balls and classmate Blake Barbin (Rochester, N.H.) scooped up four, including the loose ball following UNE's game-tying shot attempt in the final seconds.
* Kerkel's 16 saves were the fourth highest total in his career. His counterpart, UNE junior Sam Mackenzie (Worthington, Ohio) stopped 13 shots and fell to 1-2.
* PSU forced the Nor'easters into 28 turnovers, though the hosts outshot PSU by a 47-39 margin.
* The Panthers were successful on 10-of-14 clearing attempts, compared to UNE's 9-of-17 success rate.
* Plymouth State went 1-of-2 in man-up situations, with the one goal being the game winner. The Nor'easters were successful on just 1-of-5 opportunities.
Straight From the Coach's Mouth:
"We need to take better care of the ball and practice various situations that frequently arise near the end of a close game," said head coach Gordon Webb.
* The Panthers travel to Lasell College on Saturday (Mar. 9) for a non-conference match-up with the Lasers. Game time is set for 1:00 p.m.
* UNE visits MIT on Saturday (Mar. 9) at 1:00 p.m.
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