After a double-overtime loss to Centennial-unbeaten Gettysburg on the last of March, Saturday’s trip to Franklin & Marshall was an opportunity for the Swarthmore men’s lacrosse team to reassert itself as a playoff contender and take out frustration on another Conference opponent.
But the Garnet came out flat, surrendering the first four goals and going down 10-2 after three quarters before an even fourth made the final score 12-4.
The four goals was the second-lowest single-game output for Swarthmore this season just higher than a 7-3 loss to Cabrini in early March. It was the latest in a series of offensive struggles for the Garnet, which managed just 21 shots total against Gettysburg while surrendering 36. Though Swarthmore is fourth in the Conference in shooting percentage, the Garnet has taken the fewest shots per game in the Centennial.
After scoring 48 goals in its first five games this year, Swarthmore has scored just 33 though the next five. That scoring drop began with the start of Centennial Conference play when teams are more familiar with one another and have extensive film available for scouting.
The Centennial is also rated the second-best men’s lacrosse conference in the country by the Massey Ratings after the NESCAC with four Centennial teams, including Gettysburg and Franklin & Marshall, ranked in the Massey Top 20.
“The quality of teams that we are playing right now is definitely higher quality than we were facing in the beginning of the season,” said Ian Lukaszewicz ’15, who scored two goals and added an assist against the Diplomats. “Now that we have played several games [in Conference], teams can see our offensive tendencies and try to game-plan against that, just as we do for the teams we are going to play.”
Added Geli Carabases ’14, “It is a testament to the quality of teams as well as how important it is to stay healthy. We have guys playing offense, defense, taking wings, and it has been hard to maintain the same level of play for 60 minutes as we did in the beginning of the year with a healthier team.”
But as the team showed against Gettysburg, the difference between the perennial powers like Gettysburg is shrinking.
“Consistency is the difference. If we play a full 60 minutes of good lacrosse, we can play with anybody and we know that,” Carabases said.
The Bullets have never lost to Swarthmore since the formation of the Centennial Conference, but after winning by 16 goals in 2010, the teams have played a two-goal and a one-goal game in the last two years.
“There aren’t too many differences between us and a Gettysburg or Franklin & Marshall. We all have certain people that have certain roles and may be better at certain things than others,” Lukaszewicz said.
“I don’t see us being any less confident than other teams like Gettysburg or Franklin & Marshall. We have a lot of talented guys on the team and I think the Gettysburg game definitely showed that we can play with anybody. Our coaches have us well prepared going into each game and we know that we have the ability to win every time we step on the field,” the freshman added.
Despite dropping to 1-3 in Conference play with the loss to the Diplomats, Swarthmore remains in the thick of playoff contention with four games remaining in the Centennial schedule. Three of the four are against teams currently in the playoff picture creating an opportunity for the Garnet to move up in the standings.
“We have to set obtainable goals and work at them each day,” head coach Pat Gress said. “As long as you are showing improvement every day, you are always on a positive path even if you lose a game. It is certainly disappointing but you have to keep chipping away at the to-do list and hopefully, the positives collectively build to the point that we can win our next game.”
Prior to the Garnet’s non-conference game against Drew on Wednesday, Lukaszewicz said that “It will be really important for us as a team to rebound, play a solid game, and get a win at home. A good game Wednesday will put us in a good position to start preparing to face a strong Dickinson team on Saturday.”
Against the visiting Rangers, Swarthmore dropped a heartbreaker, 11-10 in overtime. Drew scored just before the end of regulation to tie the game, before Scott Humphreys netted the game-winner with three minutes left in overtime.
The Garnet will host Dickinson at noon on Saturday looking for its second win in the series since 2003.