VICTORY!!! WC wins inaugural game

Freshman Kirby Dearth scored three goals with one assist as the Wilmington College men's lacrosse team won the first game in program history Saturday at Wilmington Stadium, beating DePauw, 8-6, on a sunny, but chilly afternoon.

One has been around Wilmington athletic competitions could notice the excitement this historic event brought to the campus with the presence of Wilmington College's President, Jim Reynolds and wife, several faculty members, athletic coaches and a significant number of the student body along with many student-athletes in attendance.

The Quakers began the game slow with many turnovers and got behind on the scoreboard early in the first quarter until Corey Stevens (Franklin, OH/Springboro) netted the program's first goal with 8:46 remaining in the opening quarter. Fortunately, Wilmington's first goal wasn't its only goal on the day, although it took some time for the Quakers to begin to sort themselves out organizationally and make up for many lost turnovers through midfield.

Dearth (Hilliard, OH/Darby) found the back of the net for his score with 5:54 in the first quarter, giving Wilmington its first lead of the match. The teams traded scores and the Fightin' Quakers took a 3-2 lead into halftime.

"Coming out slow in the first half is expected as we were trying to figure out how to play as a team," said head coach Domenic Marzano.

Marzano added some halftime adjustments were made to ease the pace of Wilmington's offensive sets and stressed patience when finding favorable match-ups when taking chances.

The second half saw an uptick in offensive production from both teams as a combined nine goals found the back of nets. It also proved why there are some pleasantries and advantages to having the first lacrosse match on home soil.

DePauw took the lead with two goals to start the third quarter, but spurred by the raucous crowd, Wilmington rode the excitement effectively.

"The atmosphere created from the excitement and presence of the home crowd truly made it easier to energize and ignite our players to pick up our energy level," said Marzano.

Freshman Jalen Jackson (Hilliard, OH/Bradley) scored the equalizing goal with 1:55 left in the third, then assisted on the go-ahead goal, Dearth's second of the day, 54 seconds later. Dearth gave Wilmington the game's first two-goal lead of the day with his third goal with 9:20 left in the fourth quarter.

It was evident the Quakers found their groove and comfort level playing as a team when they began to win midfield battles, push transition and allowed patience to prevail in running offensive sets. Jackson was most impressive with his patience and speed to exploit favorable match-ups when his dodging and use of speed to attack the net put DePauw under serious pressure throughout the second half.

DePauw pulled to within one goal with 7:02 left, but back-to-back goals by freshmen Evan Osborne (Middletown, OH/Lebanon) and Alex Gossard (Galloway, OH/Hilliard Bradley) gave WC a three-goal lead with 3:22. The Tigers scored with 48 seconds remaining, but the celebration was starting on the sidelines and in the stands.

Gossard finished with two goals, while Jackson had one goal and two assists.

Marzano was extremely pleased with his defensive unit as he felt they were solid all day and pushed transition well, clearing the ball in fundamental fashion.

"The long poles pushed transition well and translated in the game to what we worked on training all week," said Marzano.

Most notably Alex Barton (Galloway, OH/Hilliard Bradley), Garyck Todd (Pickerington, OH/Central) and Austin Johnston (Columbus, OH/Hilliard Bradley) took charge on the defensive end of the game which was critical in Wilmington's success throughout the game. Behind a stellar defensive front, freshman Ian Hamilton (Springboro, OH/Springboro) was solid in between the pipes. He finished with 11 saves in recording his first win.

"Ian's clears were on point and his outlet passes were sharp and on target which is a huge factor for us in clearing the ball in to the offensive end...he made several key saves when we needed them and he was instrumental in our clearing game," said Marzano.

Wilmington returns to action when they take their first road trip 3 p.m. Friday to face Franciscan in Steubenville.