The Wolverines knew they had a tough weekend in front of them with three away games in three days, but they also knew it was important to get their season started-off the right way. The first game came against #22 Kennesaw State in Chattanooga, an hour bus ride from the team’s hotel. As the bus got closer the skies grew darker and by the time the team started warm-ups there was a steady rain falling. The nasty weather did nothing to damper the team’s spirit and they jumped out to an early lead. junior captain Ryan Althausen, who dominated the face-off circle all weekend winning 36 of 54 draws (66%), won the first two face-offs which led to two quick goals and the Wolverines had a 2-0 lead before Kennesaw even touched the ball.
The Wolverines suffered from some self-inflicted wounds on the defensive end, giving up goals in transition and failed-clears. A late goal by Kennesaw with 14 seconds left narrowed the Wolverines lead to 7-5 at halftime and gave the Owls some momentum heading into the second half. The break provided the team an opportunity to compose themselves and after some inspirational words from attackman Dan Casselli they came back and posted three goals in the third quarter. The defense also cut back on their miscues and responded with a strong second half only yielding two goals. Junior captain Chris Dymski led the defense, making 17 saves (70.8%) and scooping up 5 groundballs. Two freshman attackmen were instrumental in the Wolverine offense. Dan Casselli led all players in points with four goals and two assists, and Dave Hall added four goals and one assist. The 12-7 victory against a ranked opponent in sub-par weather conditions gave the team confidence heading into their game the following day against Tennessee Wesleyan.
On Friday afternoon the Wolverines did not have any rain to contend with, but the precipitation from the night before made the field a less than ideal playing surface. The mud could not stop the Grove City offense either and once again the Wolverines posted four first quarter goals. Tennessee Wesleyan would come back with two goals of their own to cut the lead to 4-2, but the Wolverines would score four more goals in the second quarter to take an 8-3 lead into halftime. Once again the defense was able to make adjustments at halftime and held the Bulldogs to only one goal in the second half. Close defensemen Ryan Colby, Matt Erdley, and Ryan Herman combined for 15 groundballs and Chris Dymski made nine saves (69.2%) to seal the victory. On the offensive end the team dominated the time of possession, but struggled to find the back of the net in the second half. Bulldog goalie Brandon Scott made thirteen saves for an incredible 86.7 save percentage. Dave Hall led all scorers with three goals and one assist, junior captain Ryan Cypher scored his first goal of the season, and sophomore Will Stumpf also added two goals. Freshman midfielder Josh Calhoun finished the scoring in the fourth quarter with his second goal of the game and of his career.
The Wolverines took their momentum into Saturday afternoon and despite playing games the previous two days came out with a lot of energy. Once again the offense quickly set the tone for the game posting two quick goals in their first two possessions. They would score two more goals before conceding one to the Georgia Southern Eagles on a fast-break. The first quarter ended with the score 5-1. The Wolverines would increase their lead to 9-1 in the second quarter before giving up back-to-back goals to see their lead cut to six. The eagles would add a fourth goal with just under two minutes remaining in the half, but the Wolverines would take the lead right back up to six with a nice combination from Casselli to Hall to Cypher to take a 10-4 lead into halftime.
The second half followed a familiar pattern. The defense tightened up, only allowing one goal the rest of the way, and the offense dominated possession while coming up with timely goals. Final score, Grove City: 15 – Georgia Southern: 5.
Dave Hall led a balanced attack with five goals and three assists, Dan Casselli and Will Stumpf had three goals apiece, Ryan Cypher had two goals, and senior midfielder Andrew Williams and freshman midfielder Lukas Toburen scored their first goals of the season. Chris Dymski made nine saves to end the weekend with a save percentage of 69.8%. The total team effort helped the team secure their third victory for a 3-0 start to the season and gives them confidence heading into North Carolina next weekend when they will face #11 Elon and Appalachian State.
- Alumnus Jordan Markley ’12, a close defenseman and captain last season, traveled down to the game on Saturday and provided inspiration to the team while handling the twitter feed. Thanks for the support!
- Ryan Althausen won the unsung hero of the weekend award for his work at the face-off circle, leading the team in groundballs (24) and his seven points (3 g, 4 a).
- Freshmen Dave Hall (12 g, 5 a) and Dan Casselli (8 g, 3 a) led the team in scoring.
- There was only one penalty called in the game against Tennessee Wesleyan, a cross-check to Ryan Cypher’s back with 30 seconds remaining in the contest.
- Our bus-driver Ray is a champion, thanks Ray!