LEXINGTON, Va. – Senior midfielder Keith Long hit the century mark for points in his career, hitting fellow senior Anderson Caldwell with an assist in the middle of the second quarter. The goal and assist helped lift the VMI lacrosse team to its second win in as many games, downing Mercer University 14-4.
Long finished the day with two goals and his assist, his sixth-straight game with at least three points. For his career, Long has tallied 49 goals along with 51 assists to hit the century mark.
The win also marked the first time since 2008 the Keydets logged multiple home wins, claiming their second of the season at the SpinTurf Field. With the victory, the Keydets also logged the program’s 150th win and was the first time under head coach Brian Anken VMI has won back-to-back games.
“We always talk about we’re trying to do to build this program and we understand we have to walk before we can run, so these little victories like this, putting back-to-back wins together … really just mean a tremendous amount to this group, especially knowing that we’re laying the foundation for something we hope to do on a regular basis,” said VMI head coach Brian Anken, who improved to 2-0 all-time against Mercer. “
VMI (3-9) put together a strong offensive performance, getting eight different goal scorers on its 14 markers. Russell East notched his second-consecutive hat trick, leading the day with three goals. Mickey Hofmeister tallied two goals and a dish while Drew Leonard posted a pair of goals, one of which was an extra-man strike. Hofmeister accounted for VMI’s second extra-man goal. Senior Andrew Nieminski scored the final two goals for the Keydets.
Caldwell, Stephen Robarge and Colin Bosse all had one goal. In addition Long and Hofmeister, Draius Mills tallied an assist.
Opposite the Keydets, Mercer slide to 1-12 on the year. John Avent, Sam Grayson, Wilton McKown and Ian Gehlbach all tallied goals for the Bears. Sully Bennett and Zack Ward kicked in assists.
Between the pipes was big Matt Lindemann, named Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Week on Tuesday, who used all 6-5 of his frame to make 18 saves, his fifth-straight game with double-digit saves.
In front of Lindemann, the Keydet defense locked down Mercer’s top threats while also forcing 18 Bear turnovers, 10 of which were caused by a Keydet. The four goals allowed are the fewest by a VMI team since holding Presbyterian to four on Feb. 27, 2008. That Presbyterian team was coached by Mercer’s current head man, Jason Childs.
Six different Keydets caused turnovers, including four who forced multiple Mercer mishaps. Lindemann, Kyle Hofstetter, Taylor Jenkins and Tyler Prasnicki each caused two turnovers.
Mercer’s netminder Justin Bateman made nine saves against 37 total VMI shots. The Keydets put on a shooting gallery in the first quarter, taking a season-high 17 shots, striking four times.
The face-off spot once again belonged to senior specialist Stephen Robarge, who won 15 of his 21 attempts. With his 11 groundballs, the nation’s top groundball getter posted his fourth straight contest with double-digit grounders and his sixth of the season.
VMI jumped out to an early lead after East buried his first goal of the game just under 40 seconds into the contest, giving VMI its first wire-to-wire win since March 11, 2011 at Presbyterian. East struck again just four minutes later to give the Keydets a 2-0 lead.
Long got within one point of the century mark early in the first quarter after burying a pair of shots past Bateman to put the Keydets up 4-0.
But the Bears rallied in the second quarter, scoring twice in the first three minutes of the period after being shutout in the opening stanza. Avent scored first followed by a marker from Grayson three minutes later.
VMI grabbed control of the game once against as three different Keydets scored to round out the second quarter. Bosse drilled his tally right at the 11-minute mark on a pass from Mills. Hofmeister put in his first of the day at the 7:22 mark, followed just 11 seconds later by Robarge for his fourth of the year. The Keydets took a 7-2 lead into the halftime break.
Mercer struck first in coming out of the break, but VMI banged home back-to-back goals to extend its lead to 9-3 on East’s third of the day and Leonard’s first tally. Unbeknownst to Mercer, their final goal of the game would come with 1:21 left in the third quarter before the VMI defense shut down the Bears’ scoring.
The Keydet offense continued to flow in the fourth quarter as VMI piled on another five goals. Only Nieminski was a multiple goal scorer for VMI in the final period as Hofmeister and Leonard scored their respective second goals while Caldwell tallied his, giving Long his milestone point.
VMI hits the road next weekend as it makes the long trek to Buffalo, N.Y. to take on MAAC foe Canisius College. Game time is slated for 11 a.m. at Demske Sports Complex.