The Missouri lacrosse team faced two tough teams this weekend and persevered through harsh weather conditions to come out on top in both games. Saturday night, the Tigers battled a strong Wisconsin team, and thanks to goals from eight different players, Missouri was able to hold on for a 10-8 victory. The next morning the Tigers hosted Purdue and established their presence as a force to be reckoned with, beating the Boilermakers in a convincing fashion, 11-4.
The Tigers didn’t start off too hot in the Wisconsin game, quickly falling to a 0-2 deficit in the first quarter. Missouri managed to regain composure and score two consecutive goals of its own to tie up the game as the quarter expired. Throughout the rest of the game, both teams continued exchanging goals. No team led by more than one until the third quarter, when Missouri scored three straight goals. Two of these goals came from freshman Walter Reilly, which gave Missouri an 8-5 lead midway through the period.
“There was no slide at all,” Reilly said. “My first goal, the right handed dodge going down the alley, no slide came. So it was as simple as getting past my guy and putting it in a good location.”
Wisconsin responded with a goal of its own, and pulled the game within two after another shot found the back of the net with less than three minutes remaining. It looked as if the Badgers had a chance for a comeback with several turnovers and unsuccessful clears by the Tigers as time expired, but none of Wisconsin’s shots got past junior goalie Sean Hogarty.
“In those last few minutes all that was going through my mind was ‘don’t let them back in this,’” Hogarty said. “I knew all it took was one goal and the momentum would shift in their direction, so I made sure we did our part as a defense to win the game.”
With Hogarty’s solid goalie play and the Missouri defensive unit standing strong, the Tigers were able retain their lead and come out with the win. Reilly’s hat trick was the driving force behind the Tigers attack, and his poise on offense kept the team focused and in control of the game. The ability of the defense to refrain from allowing any more goals in the final minutes can be attributed to Hogarty’s composure in the clutch.
“Going into each game I try not to over think the match up and just play, but I was hungry for a win especially after Wisconsin embarrassed us last season,” Hogarty said. “I wanted to make sure to keep the goals allowed under 10, knowing that our offense could take care of the rest.”
The Tigers returned home after their hard fought victory over the Badgers to face Purdue on Sunday morning. Missouri jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first quarter, but Purdue was able to answer with two successful shots of its own to bring the game within one. This was the closest the Boilermakers would get to the Tigers the rest of the afternoon, with goals coming from an array of Missouri players, primarily from the junior attackman Zach Nisson. Nisson was dialed in all game, but especially in the third quarter where he tallied three out of the first four goals of the period on his own.
“When I see a weakness I definitely go after it right away,” Nisson said. “I’ve been playing a long time so I know when there’s an opportunity to take advantage of it. The player on me was just not my caliber so I just went after him.”
Nisson was determined to capitalize on his advantage over his defender, attacking the alley and somehow finding ways to put in shots even from difficult angles.
“Zach played awesome, there isn’t much more you can ask from Zach each time he’s on the field,” Hogarty said. “It’s obvious that he wants this team to win every time we step onto the field, his leadership and experience makes everyone around him better.”
Missouri continued putting pressure on the Purdue offense, forcing bad passes and turnovers as the game went on. The Boilermakers squeezed in a last minute shot but their efforts were too little, too late, as the Tigers took this game by seven goals.
With the two wins, Missouri moves to 4-0 overall and first in its conference. The team will travel out to Illinois next weekend to take on the 1-1 Fighting Illini on Saturday and the Illinois State Redbirds on Sunday.
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