By Evan Wheaton
Despite losing a large amount of offensive talent in the offseason due to graduation, eight members of the Springfield College men’s lacrosse team accounted for nine of their goals in their 14-9 loss at Stagg Field in their home-opener against No. 11 Union College.
The Pride hit the ground running by scoring on their first three possessions for a quick 3-0 lead. Joe Hawley scored the first home-goal of the season unassisted with less than 10 seconds left on the shot clock.
Less than a minute later, Patrick Watson followed up with a much quicker time on attack. At the 10:40 mark, Chris Santa Barbara was fed a shot by Tommy Nash to give the Pride early cushion.
“We played fast, that’s what happens,” Springfield head coach Keith Bugbee said. “We got out of the gate, which was good. We just went right at them, which was good to see. We attacked them, went after their short sticks, and (we) were very deliberate on our offense, which was great. Speed is everything.”
The Pride played their best game of the season across all phases, clearing 18 of their 20 clear attempts, scooping 24 ground balls and winning 10 of the 27 face-offs.
Dan Biesty also made 14 saves at the net over Dutchmen goalie Graham Goldheim’s 12.
“I think it’s just that we’re getting there. Coach Bugbee always talks about how it’s the process, not the product,” Hawley said. “We’re not a finished product right now, we’re not going to be. So, today, getting all those guys in, getting those new faces… we have a very young offense and a very young team and now these guys are starting to get that game experience and they’re finishing their shots.”
The final two minutes and 10 seconds of the first half was a shootout with five goals scored across both squads.
Hawley fed a pass to Alek Turi, who in turn found the net to break a 3-3 tie. 56 seconds later, Jack Kaufman darted up the left side to bang one past Biesty. Just six seconds later, the Pride responded when Joe Cameron sent one to Zac Schuette for a goal. Union’s Kerry Lyne found his second goal of the day with 27 seconds left, and the Dutchmen entered halftime with momentum after a late goal with three seconds remaining.
“A lot of it was long offensive sets. I think we used almost all the shot clock to both ends a lot. A lot of it was people trying to deliberately take a good shot and take their time. Got a little physical too, which is fun to see,” Bugbee said with a smile.
“I think we’re a fairly equal team, we’re just a little younger than they are. I feel like we just couldn’t stay dialed in until the end. That’s been our biggest challenge, but we’re getting there.”
Kyle Bazonski kept the Pride alive late in the third quarter.
With a pass over the middle from Roberts, Bazonski reared himself back and rifled a shot from past the 30-yard line to tie the game, 7-7.
“I saw the break coming, I saw Roberts had it,” Bazonski said. “He could’ve definitely fed me earlier, but you know, Roberts being Roberts, he made a play and was able to draw the two-on-one up top and he fed it to me and I saw my shot and I took it, sunk it, and I thought it sparked the team a little bit.”
Ultimately, the Dutchmen began to pull ahead in the fourth quarter, outscoring the Pride 6-2. Tierney made his team-high two goals for the Pride in the fourth after a wrap around on the right along with a man up goal, while Lyne accounted for a bulk of the Dutchmen’s production with a game-high five goals.
Entering the game ranked No. 20 in the nation for man up offense, Springfield was only able to score on one of their six opportunities.
“(It was) more us, we just turned the ball over,” Bugbee said. “It wasn’t them (Union); we just threw the ball away a couple times. I can’t put it on them, they (Union) were playing great. It wasn’t their defense; it was more our lack of offense.”
Despite the lack of man up production, the Pride managed to create scoring opportunities with a full defense against them.
“Yeah, we didn’t come out with a win, but we played really good O. (We’re) just taking strides each and every game,” Hawley said.
Now 0-4 overall, Bugbee attests that he’s already seen improvement this season, and compared their current situation to last year’s group.
“We’re better now than we were at this point last year. I reckon we’re pretty probably pretty similar about this time last year, but I think we’re just competing better,” Bugbee said. “And it’s a process, they (Springfield) just have to trust it.”
After losing their edge late in the fourth quarter, there’s one big takeaway from the 2020 home opener.
“60 minutes,” Bugbee said. “Play the whole game, but we’ll get there.”
Photo courtesy Evan Wheaton