The fourth-ranked Chapman men’s lacrosse team cruised to an 18-8 victory over 23-ranked University of California, Los Angeles in a Saturday afternoon home matchup on Wilson Field. Chapman also lost in the final minute of a Thursday night exhibition game to Whittier 13-12 at home.
“The biggest takeaway from this game (against UCLA) was how our offense has continued to click since the University of Arizona game,” said junior midfielder Alex Siegel.
The Feb. 28 Arizona game saw Chapman struggle to string together a successful offense despite solid defensive play. But, after scoring in the double digits every game since then, Chapman’s offensive woes are a thing of the past.
Junior attacker Steve Koressel opened the scoring for the Panthers, ripping a shot into the top of the net to start the Panthers out on top. Three goals in quick succession from freshman midfielder Scott Weismann, sophomore attacker Regan Kelly and sophomore defender Nicky Mullen saw Chapman jump out to an early 4-0 lead before junior attacker Alex Tomei made it 5-0.
Two more goals from Chapman and a first goal for the Bruins made the score 7-1 in the Panthers’ favor to close out the first quarter.
“Really, it wasn’t much of a contest,” said sophomore defensive midfielder P.J. Titterton.
Koressel notched his second and third goals of the contest in the second quarter as Chapman roared forward to a 13-3 halftime lead. By the end of the third quarter, the Panthers maintained a 10-goal lead at 15-5. Tomei netted his second goal of the game as Chapman comfortably closed out the game with an 18-8 victory to cement its spot atop the Southwestern Lacrosse Conference.
Chapman’s offensive spark was largely credited to freshman midfielder Benji Whitmore, who dominated his faceoffs, allowing the Panthers to maintain a consistent amount of possession throughout the game.
“Benji played very well at the face-off,” Siegel said. “He won a big majority of them. He picked up a lot of first-time ground balls and that was something we had worked on a lot this week in practice.”
Against Whittier, Chapman trailed 4-3 at the end of the first quarter, but the Poets capitalized on poor discipline and several penalties on the Panthers to go into halftime leading 8-3.
The Poets then extended that lead to 10-3 in the third quarter. It was around this time when the Panthers’ offense woke up, with freshman attacker Dylan Garner, senior midfielder Chris Herrmann and junior attacker Dave Apruzzese scoring to get the momentum back for the Panthers.
Koressel eventually tied the game at 12-12, but a last-minute goal from the Poets ended up being the difference as Chapman slipped to defeat.
Koressel led the Panthers with four goals on the night. The loss was only Chapman’s fourth of the season, but this latest loss to Whittier will not affect their league standing.
“It was a rough game that had some good stretches for us,” Titterton said. “Luckily it’s only our pride that took a hit. We played them last year and won by a goal, so we knew it was going to be a close game.”
The Panthers’ next game is an away matchup against University of Southern California Wednesday night.