Men’s lacrosse kicks into gear after early losses

The Allegheny Men’s Lacrosse team cruised to victory on April 12 as they took down Hiram College in dominant fashion 13-2. It was a bounce back win for the Gators after dropping their last game to Ohio Wesleyan this past weekend, moving their record to 4-8, while boasting a 2-2 record in the conference.
It was never a close game, as the Gators pitched a shutout throughout the entire first half. They jumped up to a 6-0 lead thanks to two goals each from Nicholas Cimillo, ’23, and Jack Cushwa, ’25. Cimillo ended the game as the top scorer for the Gators and had a career day, finding the net an additional two times while also racking up one assist and two ground balls.
“It’s great to have high IQ players on the offense,” Cimillo said. “When they dodge they know what to do to get me open, so they pass the ball to me and I have open lanes to shoot.”
Cimillo has been coming on for the Gators as of late. In the last three games, he has scored five out of his seven goals in the season. He was able to move freely with the stick and helped the Gators massively in their last win. The long-stick midfielder gives all the credit to his teammates, who helped him create open looks and find the net.
Cimillo went into further detail on what’s allowed the team to gel over the last few games, saying chemistry is a big improvement he’s noticed throughout the season. Players will eat team meals together and watch sporting events in the dorms while hanging out. They are a loose group of guys that enjoy being around each other.
Cushwa has also been one of the premier pieces of the Gators’ offense throughout the season. He is currently second on the team in goals, totaling 17 with a shot on goal percentage of .674, and he is only a first-year.
“It’s definitely something to adapt to,” Cushwa said. “You just have to have the will and confidence to go out there, and I have plenty of great teammates backing me up as well.”
Cushwa said he has worked a lot with head coach Tommy Pearce to get his game to where it is at now. His overall goal is to see the team thrive as a program and to keep progressing throughout the rest of the season.
Another highlight of the game for Allegheny was the goalkeeping play from Eric Mirkovich, ’23. In addition to not allowing a goal throughout the first half, Mirkovich ended the game with eight saves and gave up the least amount of goals for the Gators all season. He has amassed an astronomical 26 saves in the last two games, as he also had 18 in the loss to Ohio Wesleyan.
Arguably Mirkovich’s best season, the Junior out of York, Pennsylvania currently boasts a save percentage of over .500 and has allowed slightly more than 11 goals per game. He has earned his teammates respect, and has proven to be a legitimate asset defending the net this season.
“It goes a long way (with Mirkovich in goal),” Cushwa said. “(Mirkovich) made some great saves and bailed us out a lot of times. When we’re playing tougher opponents he really helps settle us down.”
This is only the teams third year as an organization, and only their first season with a full schedule experience as the first two years the program played were cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The senior class was not even able to play their first year due to the program not being in place yet.
The team has now won their last three out of four games, and have been playing their best lacrosse heading down the stretch. With the team starting the season off with seven straight losses after an opening day win vs Marietta, they are finding their groove just in time for the NCAC tournament.
Allegheny is currently ranked 6th in the NCAC Conference, behind battle hardened teams including 18-ranked Dennison and Ohio Wesleyan, who have been in and out of the top 25 Division 3 rankings for the last few years. The Gators will look to continue their good fortunes as they gear up to face Wittenberg at Edwards-Maurer field on Saturday, April 16 at 1 p.m.