The Cal Poly Men’s Club Lacrosse team let a close game slip away, losing 13-8 to Chapman in the club’s highlight game of the year inside Alex G. Spanos Stadium March 16. This was the second year in a row that the team played just one of their home games inside Spanos Stadium.
“Having a larger crowd does wonders for the program- not only our program but lacrosse on the central coast,” junior face off specialist Ryan Brown said. “Getting a bunch of fans out here cheering us on during the game is electric.”
Chapman (5-2) scored within the first two minutes of the first quarter. Cal Poly (5-3) gained possession for the next minute, which allowed a goal from senior midfielder Evan Hunter. Senior goalie Anthony Epshteyn made two impressive saves in Chapman’s following possession, keeping the score tied at 1-1 in the first five minutes of the first quarter. The Panthers kept up the pressure and Jack McKeon shot a crafty top shelf goal, granting Chapman a 2-1 lead.
Freshmen longstick midfielder Wyatt Foster intercepted a pass off of the face off to gain back possession for the Mustangs, which led to a goal from junior attack AJ Guralas. The score was tied back up at 2-2.
With five minutes left in the first quarter, sophomore midfielder Sam Galaif assisted to sophomore attack Dominick Trageser for his first goal of the evening. The Mustangs grabbed their first lead 3-2 over the Panthers. The Mustangs offense put high pressure on the Panther’s defense and junior attack Doug Gosselin assisted to Trageser for his second goal of the night. The Mustangs secured a two-goal lead of 4-2. Chapman stayed close behind and added another goal with less than 2 minutes left in the first quarter. On the next possession, Senior midfielder Mitch Stickney drove it up the middle, scoring another goal for the Mustangs on the next possession. The Mustang’s held on to the two-goal lead at the end of the first quarter with a score of 5-3.
Chapman scored right away in the first minute of the second quarter. Chapman won the next face off, but sophomore defender Griff Hawblitzel made a steal, drove it up the sideline and sent a pass to Hunter, who scored his second goal of the night. The Mustangs led 6-4. Chapman scored a goal with 10 minutes left until halftime, but the Mustangs still led 6-5.
Chapman called a timeout with 3 minutes left in the second quarter. The Mustangs offense kept up the pressure before the end of the first half stealing it back. Trageser slammed a shot to the upper left corner, scoring his third goal of the game with 45 seconds left in second quarter.
“Scoring that first half hat trick was an amazing feeling for me,” Trageser said. “Our offense was really clicking in the first half and it was a product of my teammates working hard to find me in the right place at the right time.”
The Mustangs won the next face off and attempted to maintain possession for the last 30 seconds. Chapman stole it and drove it straight though the Mustangs’ zone, making a last second goal and cutting the Mustangs lead down to 7-6 at halftime.
The Mustangs took control of first possession for the first minute of the second half. Chapman tied the game at 7-7 with 4 minutes left in the third quarter. The Mustangs responded by winning the next face off to send Brown ahead for a goal to retake the lead. However, Chapman tied it scored another equalizer to make it 8-8 in the final minute of the third quarter.
“As a team, we need to be able to do the simple things like passing and catching and maintaining that for a full four quarters. In addition, Chapman made some half-time adjustments that we could not overcome,” Trageser said.
Both teams were playing very defensively at the start of the fourth quarter. There were no goals for either side for the first five minutes of the last quarter, until Chapman took initiative and the lead 9-8 over the Mustangs. Eager to take back the lead, Brown won the next face off for the Mustangs. The Mustangs offense lost possession quickly due to a steal and the Panthers took it down the middle for a goal. Chapman led by two goals 10-8 with seven minutes left. Chapman’s drove the score up to 13-8 for the win over the Mustangs.
“I think we lost poise in the second half, we weren’t connecting on passes and at the end of the day if you don’t connect on passes it will be hard to beat a team like [Chapman] that,” head coach Bobby Dabrieo said. “We were not consistent enough and they were.”