The Pilgrim League Tournament got off to a slow start but finished with a flurry as Springfield College knocked off MIT, 13-4, to advance to the Pilgrim League final on Saturday, April 27. The Pride will host second-seeded Babson in a rematch of the regular season finale on Saturday, May 4 at 3:30 p.m.
Led by a trio of juniors, the Pride (9-7) are now on the verge of their sixth straight Pilgrim League championship. Ryan Murphy (goal, three assists), Ryon Lynch (two goals, two assists) and Matt Fleisher (two goals, two assists) sparked the Pride’s offense as they overcame a 20-save effort by MIT’s (5-10) Christopher Rullan.
“It took us awhile to get a few past him,” Springfield coach Keith Bugbee said. “With this goal you aren’t going to beat him by standing there and ripping shots on him. I thought for them he was a real difference. The game probably should have [been] 18-4, but he was good for a few stops tonight.”
Springfield finally broke the deadlock at the 4:31 mark of the first quarter when Tony LaGuerre snuck a bouncer past Rullan. The 1-0 first quarter was uncharacteristic of a Pride offense that scored six in the first frame the first time the two teams met back on April 6.
Fleisher opened the second quarter’s scoring with his first goal of the day on a nice feed from Murphy. Fleisher’s big day in extended minutes was a perfect example of the Pride’s mentality of making sure every player is ready to play at all times.
Wednesday was a day off for Kevin Freeman, but going forward it could be in place of Kevin Sainte, who sustained an injury that could keep him out on Saturday.
“They always say in practice that if someone goes down, we need someone to step up,” Fleisher said. “Kev and I switch off in practice here and there. Losing Kev would be big for us. It wouldn’t be good, so we have to see who’s going to step up behind me and Freeman.”
Colby Verge, a senior defensive midfielder, and Matt Dalton, a sophomore long-stick midfielder, both scored on the day to help supplement the offense. Goals by defensive players are few and far between, but when they come they tend to energize the team and demoralize the opponent.
Verge’s came early in the second quarter and made the score 3-0. His activity was one of the strong points for Springfield on the day.
“I thought Colby took some of the best shots today,” Bugbee said. “The way the game is right now we’re not subbing guys out real quick, we’re going north-to-south with guys, getting down the field quick. That’s the pace we want.”
Tony LaGuerre and Bryce Serriello also scored two goals apiece, while Brendan Boss continued his impressive run of play with a goal and an assist. Goalkeeper Connor Nash made 10 saves to earn his second straight win between the pipes.
Graham Francis had a goal and an assist to lead the Engineers.