By Evan Wheaton
As the minutes tick away, Keith Bugbee removes his hat, signaling the end of the season.
It’s been a long run for the Springfield College men’s lacrosse team, and it came to an end today as they fell 15-8 to No. 6 Cabrini.
This was only their second meeting in NCAA tournament history, the first being in 2013 where Cabrini defeated Springfield 20-8.
The Cavaliers wasted no time as they scored 25 seconds into the game. The first half remained a back and forth contest. On two occasions, Cabrini held a two-goal lead, and Springfield answered with two consecutive goals to match it.
“We knew they were going to be big and we knew they had shooters all over the field,” junior Kyle Murakami said. “They were also very physical dodgers, but we didn’t try to play too much out of our system. Like we’ve done all year, we’ve just worried about ourselves.”
Cabrini senior Jordan Krug totaled five goals on the day and became the Cavalier’s leading scorer in program history. Most of his production came in the first half, and he already had a hat trick under his belt before the start of the second quarter.
“Krug is a great player and we knew he was going to present some problems for us,” assistant coach Ryon Lynch said. “He’s the type of player where you really need to know where he is when the ball gets over the midline. We thought we had a good game plan to minimize his impact six on six, which our guys executed well.”
“He scored in transition a few times but that’s what great players do, they find a way to score. I’m proud of the way we covered him six on six, especially Tommy Briscoe. We thought he did a great job.”
Cabrini also received five goals from Kyle Tucker and four from Tyler Kostack. The Cavaliers wielded an explosive offense all afternoon, and they never slowed down.
The Cavaliers had an impressive 56 shots, more than double than the Pride’s 26. Despite the Cavaliers’ high-powered offense, senior Cole Finerty enjoyed 14 saves- the most in his postseason play.
“I think our defense just played really hard,” Lynch said. “Coach (Brendan) Dooley and the rest of the defensive coaches had a great game plan going into the day, and for the most part our guys executed that game plan. There’s also the factor of our guys just going out there and playing hard. When we play hard and fast, we’re a very difficult defense to score on.”
An area where the Pride excelled in were turnovers. Although Springfield only caused five of them, Cabrini turned the ball over 21 times.
“A lot of the turnovers we created were just effort plays from our guys,” Lynch said. “Being in the right spots and making the effort plays all day helped us come up with some big turnovers throughout the course of the game.”
Senior Lucas Habich found the net twice today and finished the season with 40 goals. He experienced great production all throughout the postseason dating back to his late-game heroics against MIT.
“I’ve definitely gotten more confident in how I’ve been able to play,” Habich said. “I have to credit my growth to all the guys before me and the ones alongside me who have showed me what it means to play like a Chief Dawg.”
Senior Jack Vail had three goals today, the most on the Pride. He’s been the lead scorer year-round.
“Jack (Vail) is a fantastic lacrosse player,” Lynch said. “I have been fortunate to watch the development of Jack (Vail) over the past four years and I could not be more proud of him or what he’s done for our program. Jack (Vail) has really become a student of the game, and outside of his physical abilities on the field, his lacrosse IQ has grown so much and I think that’s evident with how he plays.”
The spearhead of the Pride offense will be graduating now after a stellar career. Vail started 55 of his 58 games, scored 104 goals, made 78 assists, and recovered exactly 100 ground balls over the course of his tenure with the Chief Dawgs.
“He’s a leader on the field for us through his play, and really has the ability to take over a game,” Lynch said. “I could not be more proud of Jack Vail and we will miss what he brings to the field day in and day out.”
As the season comes to a close, the Pride will be graduating eight seniors: Finerty, Vail, Habich, Devin Samuelson, Ray McCarthy, Cole Pecora, Cameron Glover, and Zane Smallidge.
With the conference title streak being elevated to 12 straight years, the Chief Dawgs will be back next year to try and extend it once more.
Photo courtesy Sam Leventhal