Photo courtesy of Tony Carter
DETROIT, Mich. – The Cleveland State University lacrosse team was done in by a rough second quarter as the Vikings dropped their season finale at Detroit Mercy, 12-6, Saturday afternoon at a cloudy and cold Titan Field.
CSU had a promising start, taking a 4-2 lead after the opening 15 minutes, but the Vikings were unable to carry over the momentum to the second quarter. Cleveland State collected its first-ever Division I win over the Titans one year ago but was unable to pull off the feat for a second time with UDM celebrating Senior Day.
The contest was often played at a frantic pace with the teams often trading possessions within seconds of one another.
Freshman Stephen Russo made 12 saves in the setback, reaching double figures for the eighth time in the past 10 games. He finished his rookie campaign with 117 total saves while starting 10 games.
Sophomore Jack Frickleton scored twice for CSU, his fifth multi-goal game of the season and the ninth of his career.
Frickleton opened the scoring fewer than two minutes in by rolling left and slotting a shot home with the shot clock on. Sophomore Nate Menendez then rifled a shot from the wing inside the far high corner after receiving a feed from classmate Tristen Copeland below goal line extended.
The Titans then scored twice to tie the score near the midpoint of the first quarter.
Sophomore Stephen Masi put the Vikings back into the lead by faking out his defender to generate room to shoot. With time winding down in the opening quarter, Frickleton used bounced a shot high into the cage while under pressure after he received a pass from behind the cage from freshman Derek Radke.
Detroit dominated the second quarter, tying and then surging past CSU to take the lead into intermission.
Cleveland State settled down defensively in the third quarter, shutting out the Titans for the entire frame. Sophomore Nick Wendel scored off a feed from his high school teammate Matt Manfredi before sophomore Gideon Brockenbrough netted an unassisted strike to pull the Vikings within three.
However, that was as close as Cleveland State would get. A combination of turnovers and some shots that rang off the iron kept the Vikings from pulling even. CSU had four shots clang off the post or crossbar in the contest.
Sophomore Isaac Atencio had a team-high five ground balls while adding a pair of caused turnovers. Classmate Jared Stepka had a pair of GB's and notched at least one in all 13 games he played this season.
Sophomore defenseman Skylar Jimenez and Brandon Ruditz were the two Vikings to start all 14 games in 2018. Jimenez set career highs in caused turnovers (4) and ground balls (4) against the Titans. Ruditz had two ground balls and a caused turnover and has now played in each of the first 28 contests in program history.
The Vikings had fewer penalty minutes than their opponent for the 19th time in 28 games.
Cleveland State finished with four Division I wins in its second season of existence, three more than it garnered in its inaugural season. CSU faced five teams currently in the top 20 of the national rankings in 2018, including two in the top five. Thirty nine of the 40 Vikings on the roster were either freshmen or sophomores with senior Parese Williams representing the lone player set to graduate from the program.