On March 11 the UC Irvine Intercollegiate Men’s Lacrosse team (5-2, 2-2 WCLL) played a home game at the ARC fields against Pepperdine University, in a dogfight for the third and final playoff spot in the Western Collegiate Lacrosse League.
In the closing minute of the fourth quarter, the Waves scored on a man-up play to put an end to UCI’s late 4-0 rally and to take a final lead of 11-9.
With over one hundred home fans cheering on the 13th-ranked Anteaters, UCI senior captain Rory Wehrlie scored their first goal to take a 1-0 lead. However, Pepperdine would score the next two goals to take the lead for the rest of the game.
Pepperdine’s attack methodically ran draw-and-dump plays to create wide-open shots that the Waves capitalized on.
Sloppy passing and an excess of turnovers put UCI down by four going into halftime. ‘We came out flat’ said team leader and all-star defenseman Ian Televik.
‘By the time we stepped up it was too little too late,’ Televik said.
After a dreary first half, UCI filed into the team room where coaches, tried to fire up their halfhearted Anteaters. ‘Where is the sense of urgency, guys?!’ yelled third-year Coach Mark Todd as he tried to make his team understand the implications of a second straight conference loss.
The Anteaters had begun their season with five straight wins, the last being a come-from-behind victory at conference rivals Biola University.
The young third-year team had never before won more than two games. This is also the first season that UCI has been in playoff contention.
With Pepperdine leading 8-4, UCI did not make its final push against the Waves until the fourth quarter where UCI traded a couple of goals with Pepperdine before netting four straight, two by Wehrlie and two the result of crisp passes and quick redirections.
With time winding down UCI’s long stick midfielder Rens De Bruijn scored his first goal of the season. The rookie pulled the Anteaters to within one for the final minute.
After an uncontrolled face-off the ball rolled recklessly around near the midfield line while both teams collided and battled for the loose ball until a Pepperdine midfielder picked it up and drew a flag.
On the man up, Pepperdine scored the goal that was detrimental to the UCI team, crippling UCI’s playoff hopes and sending them to the sidelines.
‘It was a tough loss, but we gotta keep our heads up because we can still go to the playoffs,’ said Werhlie, the game’s leading scorer, with five goals and three assists.
Now UCI made the road to the playoffs a little more harder. UCI’s next home game will be on April 9 against Occidental Community College.