ERIE, Pa. -- Fourth-ranked Mercyhurst beat No. 11 LIU Post 9-7 at Tullio Field on Saturday afternoon. Jake McAndrew and Trevor Vargo each tallied two goals and two assists to lead the Lakers to a sixth consecutive victory.
The non-conference match between the rival programs was hard-fought and physical throughout. Several hard hits were doled out in the early action, as neither team scored in the first 9 minutes of play. Brady Heseltine finished an Ian Brooks pass for a 1-0 lead at the 5:43 mark of the first period. The Pioneers tied the game a few minutes later and the contest went into the second quarter even at 1.
The Lakers gained momentum early in the second, scoring twice in 53 seconds to take control. Mitch McAvoy won the face-off to start the frame, sprinted in and found McAndrew, who quickly dished to Heseltine for a goal and a 2-0 lead just 8 seconds into the quarter. After another face-off win, Vargo found the back of the net at the 14:07 mark, giving Mercyhurst a 3-1 lead.
Given a man-up opportunity a few minutes later, the Lakers cashed in. McAndrew hit Brandon Thomson, who scored for a 4-1 lead with 8:57 to play in the half. The visitors responded, though, scoring three times in the last five minutes of the half, sending the game into halftime tied at 4.
Post continued its momentum in the second half, taking a 5-4 edge with 13:06 left in the third quarter. Mercyhurst answered with a tying goal at the 8:10 mark, as Vargo assisted on a McAndrew score. The Pioneers scored twice in 23 seconds late in the period, going ahead 7-5. Brooks bounced in a goal with 1:24 showing on the clock, cutting the deficit to one after three periods.
Neither team could score early in the fourth, but a Post penalty gave Mercyhurst a chance to tie the match. Connor Enright set up a Thomson blast with 8:35 left, making it 7-all. A few minutes, the Lakers called timeout to set up a key possession. Vargo drove in from the left wing and beat the Pioneer goalie with 5:53 remaining, giving Mercyhurst an 8-7 edge. A few minutes later, Vargo hit McAndrew for insurance. Michael Grace came up with several key stops to keep Post off the board and lift the Lakers to victory.
Heseltine scored twice and Brooks added a goal and a helper. McAvoy went 17-20 on face-offs and picked up eight ground balls. Grace recorded eight saves in net.
Mercyhurst improved to 8-2. LIU Post dropped to 6-4.