By Alex Pijanowski
Saturday, March 30 was a beautiful day, but the forecast looked grim for the Kenyon men’s lacrosse team as they headed into the second half of their game against Oberlin College at McBride Field. A rapid succession of goals by Oberlin left the Lords with a four-goal deficit at the half. The four-game winning streak Kenyon had cranked out in the past weeks seemed in jeopardy.
“Man-up pulled it out for us offensively,” Head Coach Doug Misarti said. Man-up is a situation similar to a power play in ice hockey, which occurs when a penalty forces a player from one team to sit out for a certain period of time. During that player’s absence, the opposing team may take advantage of a deficit in the number of defenders and attack its opponent’s goal.
Defender Rob Wennemer ’13 said, “The team as a whole rallied around that man-up offense.” He also pointed to late-game heroics by Nicky Lenard ’15, who scored the winning goal despite his limited playing time because of injuries. Wennemer said that Lenard “brought new life to our offense. He was dodging hard, finding the back of the net, and really helped us out.”
The Lords are now riding a five-game win streak, but getting to this point has certainly been no easy task. Misarti said that, since the beginning of the season, the team’s offensive prowess has been “disrupted” by injuries to some of its key players.
Through the first five games of the season, the Lords owned a 1-4 record, which included a heartbreaking 7-11 loss to Franklin & Marshall College. Despite these challenges, many players have stepped up to compensate for the absence of star players like Lenard and Will Lowe ’14. Even so, Misarti said, “That’s sports ﾗ guys are going to get hurt, and you have to find ways to win.”
Also helping to lessen the impact of these injuries is the fact that many first-year players, like starting goalie Patrick Shevelson and face-off specialist Jared Jacobs, have excelled.
Unfazed by its poor start, the team remains a playoff hopeful, and has practiced and played hard to make it a reality. After taking the past five games, the team now has a 6-4 overall record, as well as a 2-0 record in conference play, which places it firmly in contention for postseason action. Wennemer said that there is an unusual amount of parity in the North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) this year, which leaves no clear frontrunner in the conference.
The Lords will travel to Ohio Wesleyan University (OWU) on April 5 at 7:30 p.m. Misarti expects the game to be a close one, but he thinks the Lords can win.
“If we can play four quarters like we played the final quarter Saturday, we’re going to be in a great game against those guys,” Misarti said.
“In order for us to win this game against Ohio Wesleyan,” Wemmemer said, “we’re going to have to put together a full 60 minutes of execution, hard play, communication. All the factors that we’ve shown throughout the season, we really need to pull them together for a full 60 minutes. If we go hard for the full game, we’ll come out with a victory.”
Kenyon will face Denison University at home on April 10. Every remaining game in the season pits the Lords against NCAC opponents, so doing well is essential to making the playoffs.
“As we go down this final stretch of the season, we need to focus on executing within our systems and further strengthening the chemistry among our players,” Wennemer said. “If we are able to do those things, we have a shot to do some great things, in both the North Coast Athletic Conference tournament and, hopefully, the NCAA [National Collegiate Athletic Association] tournament as well.”
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