By Cole Sheeks
The men’s lacrosse team (5-7, 1-1 CCIW) fell to Carthage College (10-3, 3-0 CCIW) by a final score of 11-5 on Tuesday night at Langhorst Field in Elmhurst.
Despite taking an early lead on Mac Harden’s 33rd goal of the season and adding on to it with a pair of unassisted scores by Ty Funderburk, EC allowed five unanswered goals during the second quarter and could not respond, ultimately dropping their sixth consecutive matchup with Carthage.
“It was pretty important. Carthage is a team we’ve never beat before. We really wanted to kinda get after it,” said Harden. “We are not really respected in conference, so we wanted to kinda get our name out there.”
The series between the two teams began with a 26-7 Carthage victory in 2013 and the Bluejays have been held out of the win column in all five meetings since then, including playoff losses in each of the past two seasons.
“Carthage is very solid defensively and very patient on offense. So basically what we’ve got to do is, defense, we’ve just got to keep our heads and keep talking,” added Harden. “Offense, we’ve just got to find one more pass and really just get the offense moving around, get the ball moving and not settle for the first shot we see.”
Despite winning a majority of faceoffs on the night (12 of 20), the Bluejays allowed their visitors to out run them to ground balls as Carthage dominated possession and dictated the tempo throughout the game. As a result, the Bluejays were out shot on the evening, 32 to 23
At no point was this advantage more evident than throughout a decisive second quarter, as Carthage held an 11 to 1 shot advantage over the Bluejays during that period.
Undeterred by another loss to Carthage, Harden continued to fill the stat sheet. The current CCIW Player of the Week scored a goal in his eighth consecutive game, continuing a hot streak that dates back to the beginning of March.
When asked what allows him to score at such a high rate, Harden praised his teammates.
“I mean, all the guys in front of me. Everybody that is getting me open, getting my hands free, setting me picks, getting me top side. My offensive coach is really helping me improve my game since last year,” said the sophomore attacker. “Last year, I was kinda making all the freshman mistakes. Now I’m really adapting to the college game, getting used to all the defensemen.”
The Bluejays will look for Harden to lead once again later this week as they head out to Bloomington, IL April 15 for a 7 p.m. matchup against the No. 10 Illinois-Wesleyan Titans. EC will need to bounce back quickly in order to keep pace in the CCIW.
“IW is another big opponent. They’re one of the top teams in conference. Carthage beat them last week, so [we are] hoping to knock them off the pedestal,” said Harden. “They've been doing really well this year. It’d be a big win for us.”