Once sophomore Branden Fernandez won the faceoff to open the game against Clark, it was all Springfield College.
The Pride scored the first eight goals of the game on the way to a 16-3 victory over the Cougars Wednesday night at Amos Alonzo Stagg Field.
Senior midfielder Mike Delia got the offense going early, just 48 seconds in, off an assist from freshman Dylan Sheehan. Delia scored three of the Pride’s four goals in the first quarter to take a commanding 4-0 lead.
A season ago the Pride played a closer game against the Cougars, winning a narrow 8-5 game in Worcester.
“Their game plan last year was to hold the ball as much as possible,” said Delia. “We needed to get the ball and hold it to make them panic.”
Delia and the rest of the SC offense did a good job of slowing the game down on their side of the field, moving the ball around, waiting until the right shot presented itself.
“It’s kind of been our signature all year,” said head coach Keith Bugbee. “We’re probably one of the more disciplined teams I’ve had in a long time. They take really good care of the ball and don’t rush our offense.”
“We probably could have scored more goals tonight, but that was not our intent. Our intent was to play what we do. We’re playing some really strong teams coming up and we need to make sure that we have the ball a lot and take good care of it.”
The offense held possession for the first three and a half minutes of the game. It wasn’t until 11:22 remaining in the first quarter that Clark was able to get the ball past midfield. Once the Cougars were on offense, the SC defense made it difficult to get a good look at the net.
“Every time the ball went to the defensive end, the defense was on top of their game by giving the ball right back to the offense,” said Delia.
With the offense controlling the ball for much of the first half, SC began to wear down the defense, which opened up easier opportunities.
In the first half, Springfield had more goals (9) than Clark had shots (8). The Pride outshot the Cougars by 26 in the first 30 minutes.
At the beginning of the second half, the Cougars still had some fight left in them. Clark attackmen Jeffrey Wasson and Chris Johnson each found the back of the net within a minute of one another, cutting the Pride’s lead to 9-3.
“We were probably a little more relaxed about being up 9-1,” said Delia. “When I saw two goals go in I said, ‘Hey it’s time for the wake call.’
“We had to stay patient though, don’t rush things and that’s exactly what we did.”
After Clark’s back-to-back goals, Springfield ended the game with five unanswered.
Springfield improves to 9-3 (4-0 Pilgrim League), while Clark falls to 6-6 (2-2). Springfield is currently riding a five-game winning streak, while outscoring the last two opponents 33-6.
The Pride is hitting its stride at the right time playing three of the tougher games on the schedule next week. Springfield hosts Wheaton (8-3, 3-0) on Saturday in a battle of the top two teams in the Pilgrim. SC then takes on city-rival Western New England at home next Wednesday. The regular season ends with a road game at Babson on Apr. 28.
“We have a big stretch coming up,” said Bugbee. “One at a time.”
SC was led by Delia, who ended the game with a team-high five goals, while adding an assist. Senior midfielders Eric Balslov and Shane Ferguson both added two goals and an assist.
Wasson, Johnson and Thomas Lynch each scored a goal for Clark.
Terrence Payne may be reached at email@example.com