CLEVELAND, Ohio – The Cleveland State University lacrosse team dominated the opening three quarters and handed visiting Walsh a 13-7 defeat in the Vikings' first home game in over a month on a nice, warm Saturday evening at Krenzler Field.
The Vikings took a 12-1 lead after 45 minutes of action, aided in large part by eight consecutive goals in an 18:11 frame that spanned halftime.
Cleveland State set a season high in assists with nine and a season low in turnovers with nine. The Vikings also were successful on 17-of-18 clears, a season-best percentage in that category.
Copeland had a team season-high six points on the strength of two goals and four assists. It was the second time he hit at least five points in a game this season and also the second time he reached the four-assist mark.
Baker, who entered the game with four goals on the season, notched a team season-high five goals in an offensive outburst. All nine of Baker's goals have come in the past four games with Saturday's effort representing his first hat trick and second multi-goal outing.
Despite playing fewer than 40 minutes between the pipes, Caleb Espinoza once again hit double figures in saves, finishing with 11 on the evening while allowing only a single goal. It was his eighth consecutive outing reaching double digit stops.
Cleveland State took the lead with just over five minutes gone in the game. Drake Stephens found Copeland in alone on goal in a transition opportunity off a Walsh failed clear in which Zach Whitenack forced a turnover. Copeland doubled the advantage, and closed the first quarter scoresheet, fewer than 90 seconds later after he circled the cage and fired a low strike through the goaltender.
Baker began his barrage of goals when he picked up a rebound right in front of the cage and pocketed it home up top in one motion. Baker scored his second straight near the midpoint of the second quarter when Stephen Masi engaged his defender, faked a shot and then dished off to his teammate.
Walsh would score its lone goal of the opening 45 minutes with just over seven minutes to play before the half, but the Vikings were not fazed.
Cleveland State scored three more tallies before the half with a pair by Jake Lewis sandwiched around a Noah Gleeson strike. Out of a CSU timeout, Copeland fed Lewis from behind the net, who immediately fired home. Danny Tesler cut laterally across the defense and found Gleeson, whose shot snuck right underneath the crossbar. Lewis closed the first half scoring with a strike from the other side of the box from his first goal, this time shooting from the goalie's left.
Cleveland State outscored the visitors 5-0 in the third quarter with Baker and Nick Wendel each scoring twice.
Copeland, below goal line extended, found an open Wendel on the left wing for the first Viking goal of the half.
Gage Johnson then picked off a pass near the midline during a Walsh clear attempt and found Baker near the front of the cage. He completed the hat trick despite being pushed to the ground as he was releasing the shot.
Cleveland State continued to add on, as Copeland again was an effective quarterback, finding an open Baker all alone in front of the cage.
Gideon Brockenbrough then used a nifty spin move to create space from his defender before rifling a high shot to push CSU's lead to double figures. Wendel scored his second of the frame to close the scoring for the quarter.
Walsh finished the game strongly, scoring six times in the final 12 minutes to make the final score closer. The Vikings' lone tally of the final frame came from who else but Baker, assisted by none other than Copeland.
Cleveland State caused 10 turnovers, hitting double digits in that category for the second time this season. Nine different Vikings contributed to that mark.
Copeland, who also led CSU with six ground balls, notched his fifth multi-point game and fourth multi-goal game. Baker is now riding a team-best four-game goal streak.
Lewis' third consecutive multi-goal game extended his point streak to six games. He continues to lead the team in both multi-point games (10) and multi-goal games (6).
Wendel's two goals extended his point streak to six games. He owns five multi-point games and three multi-goal efforts on the season.
The Vikings held statistical edges in shots, shots on goal and clearing percentage while also committing fewer turnovers. Each team was whistled for seven penalties on the night.
Stephens and Johnson both collected their first collegiate points Saturday evening with assists.
Tesler won 8-of-11 faceoffs he contested on the day and added an assist and four ground balls.
Cleveland State will play its final road game of the season next Saturday, April 22, at Sacred Heart.