In its closest game ever against Robert Morris, lacrosse team falls to reigning MAC champion 11-8

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KSU Athletics

Senior attacker Kelli Bailey and junior midfielder Lexi Piekarski talk during the Kent State lacrosse team’s loss against Robert Morris on Wednesday, March 2 in Kent, Ohio. 

In the four-year history of Kent State lacrosse, the Flashes have never beaten defending Mid-American Conference champion Robert Morris. Before Wednesday, they had lost four previous games by an average of 12.5 goals.

Kent State lost 11-8 Wednesday, but coach Brianne Tierney saw a lot of hope.

“We were able to beat them in fall ball, and then to have a three-goal game today should show the team that the work being put in is worth it,” Tierney said. (Though lacrosse’s main season is in spring, the team plays several exhibition games every fall.)

Kent State falls to 2-4 on the season and 0-2 in the MAC. Robert Morris is 2-3 and 2-0 in the conference. 

The Flashes scored two goals in the opening 3:40, but Robert Morris scored the next five goals to lead 5-2 at the end of the first period.

Kent State played RMU evenly the rest of the game.

“I wish we had that first quarter back,” Tierney said. “The team played good the rest of the way, and we just have to find a way to string together four consistent quarters.”

Tierney said Kent State changed its defense after the first quarter.

“We moved to a man-to-man defense,” she said. “Offensively, we started sharing the ball more and making clean passes.”

In the third quarter, the Flashes scored on goals by senior midfielder Abby Jones and senior attacker Kelli Bailey, cutting RMU’s lead to 7-6. But after a failed free position by Kent State, Robert Morris scored with seven seconds remaining in the quarter. 

The Colonials scored two more goals in the opening 3:30 of the fourth quarter, and Kent State could not come back. 

Kent State’s defense is coming off a season where it allowed more than 15 goals nine times; it has yet to happen this season. 

“We’ve implemented a new defense this season,” Tierney said. “It’s taken some time, but it’s nice to see the work everyone has put in is paying off.”

In the first half, KSU lost the draw 11-2. In the second half, the margin was 6-4. The improvement came when freshman midfielder Sidney Dering took over the initial draw. 

“Having someone skilled at draw control is a huge advantage,” Tierney said. “Possessions are important, and when you know you’re going win the draw, you can take a few more risks throughout the game.”

Sophomore attacker Jackie Wolford led KSU with three goals. Abby Jones had two goals and an assist. 

KSU had 22 shots, with 18 on goal; Robert Morris had 32 shots, with 22 on goal. 

The Flashes will take on Cincinnati (1-4) at 4 p.m. Friday at Dix Stadium. 

Jacob Shondel is a reporter. Contact him at [email protected]