Coach Bob Dignazio’s Beloit lacrosse team finished its second season with a 9-6 record in 2014. Their win percentage ranked third among all Independents nationally. Opening season wins against Elmhurst and Benedictine, and late-season victories against Illinois Wesleyan and DePauw, highlighted the season.
The Buccanneers opened the spring at home against Elmhurst College. In a back and-forth game that saw six ties and five lead changes, Beloit scored two riding goals in the final three minutes to earn the 8-7 victory.
After earning a convincing win at Fontbonne, the Bucs hosted Benedictine under the lights of Strong Stadium. Following an even opening stanza, Beloit outscored the Eagles 7-1 in the second quarter to take an 11-5 lead into halftime. The lead held as the Bucs earned the 15-10 victory to improve to 3-0 in the young season.
The Bucs then traveled to Richmond, VA for Spring Break, where they split games with Kenyon and Southern Virginia. After returning to the Midwest, Beloit dropped consecutive games before beating Calvin at home. The Bucs again dropped back-to-back games against Concordia and John Carroll to move to 5-5.
Beloit never fell below .500, however, and rallied to win four of its final five games. After convincing road wins against Dubuque and Milwaukee School of Engineering to move to 7-5, the Bucs hosted Transylvania on a Monday afternoon. Beloit took a 7-6 lead into the fourth quarter. However, Transylvania scored with 3:18 to pull ahead 9-8, which would be the final tally. The close game saw 5 ties, and the scoring margin was 2 goals or less for 58 minutes.
The Bucs hosted Illinois Wesleyan just five days later, on a memorable Saturday night after the Beloit Relays. After the Bucs took a 3-0 first quarter lead, the Titans responded by tying the game 4-4 heading into halftime. They carried the momentum into the second half, scoring their fifth consecutive goal to take a 7-4 lead with 13:45 remaining in the game. Both teams traded pairs of goals to make it 9-6 with four minutes remaining. The Bucs then staged a thrilling comeback, scoring four goals in the final 2:30 to earn the win. Jake Pritscher scored a Man Up goal with 2:22 remaining, and Tommy Porkka then struck in an even situation to pull the team to 9-8. After a faceoff win by Jack Jenkins and a Beloit timeout, Aidan Whinnery fed Austin Hyatt on the crease to tie the game with 20 seconds remaining. The Bucs would not need overtime to complete their comeback win. Jenkins again won the ensuing faceoff, this time feeding attackman Liam O’Connor on a fast break for the quick finish, to pull Beloit ahead 10-9 for good.
Beloit then traveled to DePauw to close out the season with a 14-10 win. Despite going down 2-0 in the first ten minutes, the Bucs scored three consecutive goals in the final 3:30 of the first quarter to establish their lead. Beloit scored a season-high six Man Up goals (four by Aidan Whinnery) and goalie Trevor Kenahan made a season-high 17 saves, to earn the victory.
Beloit finished the season ranked #4 in the nation in the least amount of turnover per games, as well as #24 in shooting percentage. This was the team’s second consecutive season ranked in the top 25 in shooting percentage.
Whinnery led the Bucs in goals, assists, and points in 2014. Midfielder Jack Jenkins led the team with 104 ground balls. Sophomores Jake Pritscher (30g, 14a), Liam O’Connor (17g, 20a), and Tommy Porkka (16g, 7a) tallied more than twenty points each, while freshmen Matt Kelly (25g, 8a), Austin Hyatt (17g, 6a), and Zach Carner (16g, 5a) also found their ways into the scorebook on a regular basis.
Defensemen Tyler Jackson and John Bannon, and LSM Brendan FitzGerald each picked up at least 25 GBs as well. Nick Yielding also chipped in with 14.
This year marked Beloit’s final season as an Independent. The Bucs will move to the Midwest Lacrosse Conference in 2015, and compete for the conference’s Automatic Qualifying bid to the NCAA Tournament. MLC champion Aurora advanced to the NCAA Round of 16 for the second consecutive season in 2014.