Despite a late-rally from the Springfield College men’s lacrosse team, the Amherst College Lord Jeffs were able to hold off the Pride as they edged out a 13-12 victory in a rainy Tuesday night non-conference battle amongst these two top-ranked teams.
The No. 13 ranked Pride, led by junior attackman Dylan Sheehan with three goals and one assist, fell to 9-3 overall, while the Lord Jeffs, ranked No. 18 in the latest United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association (USILA) Coaches Poll, improve to 10-3 on the season.
“It was a battle,” stated Springfield coach Keith Bugbee. “It had a playoff feel to it. Both teams fought really hard. Our midfield was so strong for us, creating movement and drawing slides that opened up things for the attack. Dylan [Sheehan] was consummate for us around the crease.”
Dating back to 2007, the contest between the two sides has been decided by a total of 10 goals, including seven one-goal games.
Springfield goalkeeper Connor Nash made six saves for the Pride, as his counterpart, Greg Majno, posted a career-best 20 saves in the victory.
Sophomore attackman Quinn Moroney tacked on six assists in the victory, while Dylan Park picked up three points. Moroney came into the game as the nation’s leader in assists per game, averaging 4.00 a contest.
Just 1:33 into the contest, Devon Acton got open in the right alley and stung a shot into the back of the net to give the Lord Jeffs an early 1-0 edge. Acton, who is just two points shy of 200, was held in check by senior defenseman Matt Giannelli, who held the senior to just a pair of goals.
“I thought the team played well, especially with the awful weather,” said Giannelli following the game. “We did our best to try and limit our turnovers by making smart passes and creating good opportunities for ourselves. As a team we definitely showed up to play and had great energy. We made a few little mistakes that the other team capitalized on.”
Towards the end of the first quarter, at the 3:27 mark, Moroney shook off his defender and threaded a cross-crease pass to Kane Haffey for an easy finish past Nash.
Just 37 seconds later, following a win at the faceoff “x” from Branden Fernandez, senior attackman Ryon Lynch found Dylan Sheehan coming off a nice cut for an easy catch and finish to cut the Pride’s deficit in half.
Fernandez and his counterpart Johno Gibbons both finished the contest 13-for-25 from the faceoff “x.”
After back-to-back goals from Aaron Mathias and Michael Litner, the Pride went on a three-goal tear, including goals from Brendan Boss, senior Dom Roberto and senior captain Kevin Freeman.
At the 9:34 mark of the second quarter, Boss collected a feed in the right-side alley and ripped a shot past Majno to bring the score to 4-2. Following suit, Dom Roberto caught a pass in the right alley, hitched to the center of the field and fired a shot on-the-run into the back of the net to bring the Pride to within one. Freeman then found the nylon at the 7:13 mark to pull Springfield even at four apiece.
“I think we left it all on the field,” said Roberto. “We battled for four quarters and our energy was at an all-time high. Defensively, we had some crucial stops, which created long offensive possessions, resulting in momentum-shifting goals.”
After a goal from Matt Killian to give the Pride a 5-4 lead, Springfield then went on another three-goal run spanning over the next 1:09, beginning with a high-to-high rip over the stick of Majno to even the game at five. Senior midfielder Matt Fleisher then found Murphy on the doorstep for an easy finish to give the Pride a one-goal lead. Fleisher then capped off the run with six seconds remaining in the first half when he caught a ball in transition and buried a shot, erupting the Springfield bench, who carried a 7-5 lead into the break.
“That goal and assist before the end of the half was the momentum we needed to start the third,” added Fleisher. “My assist could not have happened without Dylan Sheehan picking up the ground ball and throwing it to me. In regards to the goal, Dom Roberto had great vision and I just happened to be at the right place at the right time.”
Opening the second half, Lynch found Sheehan on the doorstep for a quick goal to push the Pride’s lead to three, but he was quickly answered by a three-goal run from the Lord Jeffs, including goals from Patrick Moroney, Dylan Park and Acton to tie the game up at eight goals apiece.
Junior midfielder Bryce Serriello caught a pass from Murphy at the 4:35 mark of the third quarter and let loose a shot that trickled past Majno to give the Pride a one-goal lead.
In response, Amherst then went on another five-goal tear, capped off with a Kane Haffey goal, to give the Lord Jeffs a 13-9 lead. Quinn Moroney assisted on four of the five goals in the run, including finding Patrick Moroney for a rip from 12-yards out.
Down four goals at the beginning of the final stanza, Sheehan picked up an unassisted goal to spark some momentum on the Springfield bench with 9:16 left in the contest. Just two minutes later, Freeman roll-dodged past his defender and stung a lefty shot from the alley to bring the Pride to within two.
With 3:08 left in the contest, Freeman led Serriello down the alley, in which the junior pulled from eight-yards out to bring Springfield to within one goal.
With possession and under 30 seconds remaining on the clock, Springfield drew up a play to their inside-finisher Sheehan for a last-second attempt on goal, but Majno came up big once again for Amherst as the Lord Jeffs stormed the field as the buzzer sounded, signifying their 13-12 victory.
The Pride will be back in action when they host New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference-foe Emerson College on Saturday, April 19 on Stagg Field. The game is set to begin at 12 p.m. As for the Lord Jeffs, Amherst will be hosting rival Williams College on Saturday in a crucial New England Small College Athletic Conference match-up.
“We just have to keep working our hardest moving on,” commented Giannelli. “We have to stay focused every day and get better with every opportunity. We are going to have to just concentrate on each game from here on out and make sure we win our conference. Other than that we just have to focus on improving ourselves as a team every day.”
Jon Santer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org