OWINGS MILLS, Md. – The Gary Mercadante era got off to a flying start as the Ursinus College men's lacrosse team scored all six goals in the fourth quarter on the way to a 13-9 victory at No. 17 Stevenson in Saturday night's season opener.
Junior Bobby McClure matched his career high with five goals and senior Peter DeSimone equaled his own program record with six assists for the Bears, who trailed 9-7 entering the final frame but turned on the jets and left the Mustangs in their wake to hand Mercadante an impressive result in his debut as head coach.
DeSimone, who scored two goals to move into fourth on the all-time charts with 85 for his career, had a hand in four straight goals in a span of less than four minutes to help Ursinus pull away. He set up the tying strike by sophomore Hakan Atillasoy before facilitating McClure's marker that put the visitors ahead to stay with 7:13 remaining. DeSimone then scored on a feed from Atillasoy and returned the favor with 2:30 remaining before junior Evan Scott tacked on an insurance tally about a minute later.
The Mustangs piled up 54 shots, but was never able to gain much separation thanks to a career-high 16 saves from goalie Nick Kirk. The senior had five saves in the third quarter and four more in the fourth to keep the Mustangs off the board for the final 20 minutes and change.
The Bears came out firing from the opening faceoff, grabbing a lead just 20 seconds in as Scott assisted on the first career goal for freshman Ben Goetz. DeSimone netted his first two minutes later to double the advantage.
Stevenson knotted the game with two unanswered strikes before McClure got on the board with just nine seconds remaining to put Ursinus on top 3-2 after the first.
The Bears led 5-3 after back-to-back goals by Atillasoy and sophomore Joe Mercurio on the man advantage, but the Mustangs raced back in front with three in a row in under three minutes. McClure brought the teams back on level ground at 6-apiece with 2:28 left in the first half.
A 3-1 third-quarter advantage sent the hosts into the last stanza with a two-goal advantage, but McClure's goal just over five minutes into the fourth set off the game-clinching run.
DeSimone's eight points matched his career high, and the six assists moved him up two spots to seventh on the program's all-time list. He also scooped up a team-high five ground balls, one more than Atillasoy, sophomore Andrew Malicki, and senior Alex Middleman. Atillasoy and Middleman each tallied a pair of caused turnovers.
McClure's six points brought him to within four of 100 for his career.
Stevenson held slight edges in ground balls (39-34) and faceoff wins (13-11) and even committed ten fewer turnovers (24-14), but the Bears' closing flurry proved too much to overcome.
The Bears travel to Mary Washington for a non-conference contest next Saturday.