Bryant news release...
SMITHFIELD, R.I. – Behind a game-high nine points from senior attack Tucker James (Essex Fells, N.J.) and a season-high 17 goals, the Bryant University men's lacrosse team evened its record with its first win at home, 17-11, over Hartford Saturday afternoon.
James found the back of the net six times in the outing, tying his career high, and added three assists to lead a starting attack that contributed nine goals and seven assists on the day. Junior linemate Cam Ziegler (Carlsbad, Calif.) added three goals and three assists for the Bulldogs (2-2), while redshirt-freshman Jake Buonaiuto (Miller Place, N.Y.) dished out two helpers. Bryant also saw multi-goal efforts from junior midfielder Kyle Cornell (Darien, Conn.) (3 goals, 1 assist) and Tom Kennedy (Farmingdale, N.Y.) (2g, 1a).
Justin Huggins and Alec Brown paced the Hawks (0-2) with four goals apiece, while Griffin Feiner was limited to a goal and two helpers on the day. And while the Black and Gold dominated play for three quarters, Hartford only needed one – a five-goal third – to bring a runaway back to a dead heat.
A 4-2 start in the first 10 minutes of the game would favor the Bulldogs, and James and Cornell would both find themselves with a first-half hat tricks less than 10 minutes into the second. Cornell's third score came from 12 yards out off a quick feed from James to give Bryant the 7-4 edge with 7:45 to play before the halftime break. James would tack his third on in unassisted fashion, powering through the lane through tremendous defensive traffic for a 9-4 lead with 5:26 remaining.
The score would cap off an 8-2 run stretching back to the middle of the first, but Hartford would outscore the Bulldogs, 2-1, in the final 3:25 of the second quarter, capped off by Trevor O'Brien score that found space between the pipes with 0.2 seconds to go for a 10-6 halftime margin.
"The entire focus from a week ago was to get the offense going in every way," said Bryant head coach Mike Pressler, "and to have 10 goals by halftime against a quality opponent – we were certainly pleased by our start."
But that final Hartford goal would spark a monumental momentum shift in the Hawks' direction, as the visitors came out of the locker room to dominate possession and put the Bulldogs on the defensive throughout the third.
Hartford would outscore Bryant, 5-1, through 12 minutes of the frame, getting two goals apiece from Huggins and Brown, as well as an extra-man Feiner score just seven seconds into a Bryant penalty. Huggins's second goal of the third with 6:21 to play closed the deficit to just one, 11-10, and Brown scored an unassisted goal with the shot clock on to even the contest at 11-11.
Driving the comeback was an impressive 7-for-9 mark for the Hawks at the faceoff X, a category Hartford won handily on the day behind the play of Dylan Protesto (18-23) and Spencer Andrews (5-8).
"They won the faceoffs," said Pressler. "We never had the ball in the third quarter. It felt like we were on defense the entire time. They got the ball inside for some easy opportunities, and all of a sudden it's 11-11 late in the third."
But that game-tying Brown goal with 3:33 to go in the third would be the final score for the visitors on the day.
"When they tied it at 11-11, we called a timeout and regrouped," said Pressler. "The key was that we never let them take the lead. That was huge for us from a momentum standpoint."
The Black and Gold came out of that timeout and went at the Hawks with a renewed fire, needing just 63 seconds to break the deadlock for good. Cornell would connect with Ziegler for the first of three goals from the junior attack in the final 17:50 of the contest.
Junior Jake Pellegrino (Glen Rock, N.J.) doubled Bryant's lead 41 ticks later, and the Bulldogs would ultimately finish the game with six unanswered goals, including a 4-0 margin in the fourth. James and Ziegler would team up for the last three goals of the day to highlight the Bulldogs' offensive revival.
"Tucker was waiting to have a game like that, and he was spectacular today," said Pressler. "He led us, he let the game come to him and he did a great job distributing the ball and running the offense.
"I could not be more pleased with our finish," he continued. "That is something we have not done in the last two games – finish."
Despite losing the margin in shots, 37-31, and ground balls, 35-25, the Bulldogs were stellar with possession, turning the ball over just eight times to Hartford's 17. Bryant recorded seven caused turnovers, including two apiece from Kyle Mummau (Carlsbad, Calif.) and Chas South (Lincroft, N.J.), and the latter picked up a team-high five ground balls.
"We did a great job taking care of the ball," said Pressler. "And only two of our turnovers were at the offensive end, so that was a great correction that we made offensively."
Junior goalie James Werner (New Rochelle, N.Y.) made a career-high 12 saves to get the win, while Hartford counterpart Evan Quinn turned away six.
The Bulldogs won't have long to enjoy the victory, though, as they are back on the road Tuesday night for a 7 p.m. matchup against Boston University.