MOON TOWNSHIP, Pa. - The Cleveland State University lacrosse team outshot nationally ranked Robert Morris, but the hosts used a great effort in the cage to claim a 14-5 victory Saturday evening at an unseasonably warm Joe Walton Stadium.
In addition to having a lead in shots, CSU also dominated on faceoffs and had an edge in clearing percentage. It was the third game in the past four games in which the Vikings faced a team in the most recent national rankings.
Sophomore captain Danny Tesler won 16-of-21 faceoffs, grabbed 11 ground balls and added a goal and an assist. His 16 wins were a new career high while his 11 GB's were a season best.
Freshman Stephen Russo made 13 saves in net, reaching double figures for the sixth time in the past eight games. Sophomore Zach Whitenack filled up the stat sheet, scoring a goal, collecting two ground balls and causing three turnovers.
After RMU scored the game's first goal in transition, the Vikings responded on their next possession. Sophomore Nick Wendel drew a defender and passed off to classmate Sherwin Gersten. Gersten rifled a shot into the upper corner to tie the game.
Tesler won the ensuing faceoff, and freshman Michael Wilson scored on a bounce shot off a feed from classmate Derek Radke. CSU nearly added a third straight goal, but Noah Gleeson's shot clanged off the iron.
Robert Morris scored twice within the final four minutes of the first quarter, the second of which came in transition with 30 seconds left, to take the lead.
After the Colonials scored the opening three goals of the second quarter, Cleveland State got one back out of a timeout. Tesler won a faceoff and hit Whitenack, who blasted home on the run for his fifth of the season.
Whitenack's goal proved to be the final one of the half, as RMU took a three-goal lead into intermission.
The Colonials gained further breathing room in the third quarter, aided in large part by the prowess of their man-up unit, as RMU took advantage of three man-up chances in the frame.
The Vikings put together a nice stretch late in the contest, but it did not alter the final outcome.
Chase Baker scored his first goal of the season, an impressive unassisted strike, while drawing a penalty. Tesler won the ensuing faceoff as fellow captain Gage Johnson grabbed the ground ball. Johnson then fed Tesler streaking up the field for his fourth of the campaign.
Tesler posted his first multi-point game of the season and fifth of his career. Wilson's goal gave him at least one point in each of his first 12 collegiate games.
Each team committed 12 turnovers in the contest. CSU was credited with a perfect 14-for-14 mark on clears, its third time this season in which it did not register a failed clear.
Johnson added two caused turnovers and a pair of ground balls. His assist was his first of the season and the second of his career. Wendel's assist was his first of the 2018 season.
Cleveland State will play a Northeast Conference foe for the second straight game next Saturday, April 21, as the Vikings host Sacred Heart in their home finale.