By Evan Wheaton
There’s only five minutes left. The Pride are up by 1. Three minutes left. The Bears couldn’t score, yet another defensive stop for Springfield.
A minute and a half, the Pride still can’t close the deal.
“We had the ball but we didn’t score,” Springfield men’s lacrosse head coach Keith Bugbee said. “They had the chances but our defense really stayed tough and we created some turnovers and forced them to get antsy with the ball a little bit. It was a 60-minute performance.”
No. 4 Springfield College hosted No. 1 Coast Guard in the final home game of the regular season at Stagg Field on Wednesday.
The Pride drew first blood with a goal in the first minute by Lucas Habich, assisted by Joe Hawley. The Pride scored on a man up opportunity, and once again a minute later off of a turnover. Springfield quickly gained momentum throughout the first quarter.
Cole Finerty had 19 saves on the night, and a plethora of them came early on. Deflection after deflection, the defense made a statement.
“I was just staying positive and relying on all those base shots that the defense was giving me,” Finerty said. “I mean, Coast Guard has great shooters but I think we gave up the shots we wanted to give up and I was able to make some saves.”
“A lot of deflections, we had Casey Sheehan on that back pipe chasing down every ball and getting us those turnovers that we need. Coach (Brendan) Dooley always says ‘be great,’ and I think that’s something we had rattling around in our heads all day and we finally did it.”
After a goal from Cole Pecora to open up the second quarter, the Bears responded by scoring three unanswered goals back to back to cut the deficit to 5-3. This prompted a timeout by Springfield.
“Just settle down,” Bugbee said. “Just settle down, that’s all. It wasn’t like we were totally stinking, and we called one where we turned the ball over a couple times, and that was a settle down time. I think we called two ‘settle down’ timeouts today. Maybe stop their momentum a bit and just relax.”
With 1:08 left before halftime, Pecora found the net to extend the Pride’s lead before heading into the locker room.
“Not only did it give me confidence, it gave the offense a lot of confidence,” Pecora said. “First couple of shots, I wasn’t shooting like my usual self. Like always, they offense kept me up told me to shoot like I’m capable of over the top, and that’s exactly what I did. We built off each other.”
Coming out of the half, there was a stalemate for several minutes. The Pride eventually found their rhythm again when Zachary Schuette assisted Cameron Glover for another Pride goal.
“I think it starts with the defense,” Glover said. “Getting stops, holding down the fort in the zone, and then giving it to the d-middies that are open just pushing it upfield and getting the defense all on their toes, and then we come in and kind of finish it off. It’s a full team effort box to box both ways so I think our midfield played excellent both sides of the ball.”
The Bears and the Pride each scored twice and entered the fourth quarter with the latter leading 8-6. Springfield scored early on by Jack Vail, assisted by Pecora. Coast Guard scored a minute later, and yet again shortly after to tighten the game up, 9-8.
“I think we trust each other offensively,” Habich said. “We trust that the defense is gonna bounce back from their flurry of goals and once we got the ball, we know they have a pretty good defense. We let their goalie get hot a little bit but we stayed confident and believed in one another and finished off the game.”
With five minutes left, the Pride had an opportunity to prevent overtime and clinch the win within regulation. They were able to do so as the crowd exploded in cheers and applause. The Pride had held off the top team in the NEWMAC.
“We’ve got three conference games all in a row,” Bugbee said. “All three of those have been challenging places on the road, I mean we really have to be mentally tough to win at MIT, at Clarke, at Wheaton, so we’re hoping we can build off this.”
The Pride are already rearing to go. They’re hungry to host another game in the postseason.
“We’re not satisfied,” Pecora said. “We want another one on the home field.”
The Pride will take the field at MIT on April 20 at 1pm.
Photo courtesy Sam Leventhal