A month removed from the death of Christian Yanos during spring football drills, the University of Saint Mary Spires returned to Charles J. Berkel Memorial Stadium for the first action since the 2017 campaign ended and with plenty to play for while playing for each other.
“I liked that we ran and hustled throughout the scrimmage,” USM head coach Jay Osborne said. “The defensive line was limited with numbers, so the five guys that played 90-plus snaps did a great job. We were able to get live action with nearly 60 players. That is a huge positive. Many of those guys have very limited Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference (KCAC) experience.
“We competed on both sides of the ball and it came down to the wire with the defense winning by eight points.”
The defense was the cornerstone of a record 2016 season while it had more ups and downs last fall and the offense was also very hit and miss a year ago, so those areas need to be fixed.
“Consistency is key in all areas,” Osborne said. “I think we showed we can play fast football and the sky is the limit for this team. We must build on consistency and not worry about the last play. We will be looking to duplicate more of our high end plays and limit our low end.
“I think our commitment to getting better in the weight room and classroom will be what makes us in the fall.”
Osborne added that the defense played well considering those limited numbers.
The coach said that 2017 all-conference defensive back Elijah Creighton played big, while wide receiver Bryan Barnhart (a two-time all-conference performer) was “as consistent as they come.”
Now the team moves forward more together since Yanos’ death, but there is still one more item of business to take care of before heading into the final days of the spring semester.
“Next weekend is a big weekend for us,” Osborne said. “The (Yanos) family is coming out for the first time and we are looking forward to coming together with them as a team and family. Football has helped our guys and the practices have been fun. It is great to get the opportunity to work with these young men.”
USM men’s lax bounces back
The Saint Mary men's lacrosse team earned a 9-7 win over St. Ambrose at home on Saturday, moving to 8-3 overall and 2-1 in KCAC play.
The Spires pulled away with a 4-1 scoring advantage in the third quarter giving them an 8-5 lead. Two early fourth quarter goals from St. Ambrose made the score 8-7 but neither team would score again until the Spires iced the game with another goal with 3:29 left to play.
Billy Dineen led the way for USM offensively with four goals and two assists. Tyler French added three goals and three assists for the Spires.
Zander Smith made 10 saves in goal and earned the win.
The men's lacrosse team will be back in action on Tuesday when they host Columbia at 7 p.m. in Charles J. Berkel Memorial Stadium.
After a tough outing earlier in the week, the USM women’s lacrosse team bounced back strong but fell 14-13 against St. Ambrose on Saturday, their third one-goal loss of the season as they fell to 3-6 overall and 2-3 in KCAC play.
Karissa Proctor led the offense with five goals for Saint Mary in the loss. Hannah Byrd added four goals of her own. Rachel Kozusek finished with two goals.
Kozusek added a team high seven ground balls and Abby Rounkles finished with six.
Proctor won 13 draw controls to lead all players in the game. Kayla DeBlois made 14 saves in goal.
The women's lacrosse team will be back in action on Friday when they host Missouri Valley at 4 p.m.
The Saint Mary softball team took on Oklahoma Wesleyan at home on Saturday and dropped both games, 7-2 and 5-3, to fall to 10-27 on the season and 3-7 in KCAC play.
The Spires got the early lead with a run in the bottom of the first inning before the Eagles scored four runs in the top of the third. Saint Mary pulled within two with another run in the bottom of the third, but Oklahoma Wesleyan pulled away with a run in the fourth and two more in the sixth.
Eight different Spires recorded a hit in the game. Samantha Torres and Cassidy Harbert each had an RBI. Torres' RBI came on a solo home run to lead off the game for Saint Mary. Haley Reece tripled and scored a run as well.
Torres would pitch a complete game in the second game of the doubleheader holding the Eagles scoreless through the first four innings.
Oklahoma Wesleyan finally got to Torres in the fifth for three runs. Saint Mary came right back in the bottom of the inning to score twice. The Eagles added runs in the fifth and sixth to take a 5-2 lead.
Maddie Barron, Torres, and Harbert each had two hits in the game. Barron doubled and had an RBI while Kaila Trowbridge and Maddison Carr each had an RBI as well.
Saint Mary will resume play on Tuesday at Sterling in another doubleheader beginning at 2 p.m.
Baseball falls at McPherson
The Saint Mary baseball team fell 6-2 in the opening game of a three-game series at McPherson on Saturday.
The loss drops the Spires to 13-18 on the season and 9-13 in KCAC play as Sunday's doubleheader was suspended with the Spires leading 4-1 in the fourth inning due to field conditions brought on by weather.
Andrew Berry had two hits for the Spires to pace the offense. Sam Miller, Alexis Ramos and Daunte Freeman each had a double.
Saint Mary is back in action on Tuesday at William Jewell beginning at 3:30 p.m.