Bryant Men’s Lacrosse Cruises Past Wagner At Home
Bryant news release…
SMITHFIELD, R.I. – The Bryant University men’s lacrosse team led, 8-3, early in the third quarter, but erupted for 10-consecutive goals that extended into the fourth, as it elevated up and over Wagner College, 18-5, in Saturday’s Northeast Conference home opener.
"I was very pleased that we were ready to play today," said Bryant head coach Mike Pressler. Going up 8-2 at halftime, adding to that with the seven goal spurt in the third, we have a lot of respect for Wagner and I was thrilled that we were ready to go against the best Wagner team we have seen to date."
Junior attack Tucker James (Essex Fells, N.J.) put forth a performance for the Bulldog (7-3, 2-0 NEC) record books with a career high 13 points on six goals and a personal best of seven assists. Senior attack Shane Morrell (Glen Mills, Pa.) registered six points on four scores and two helpers, while sophomore Cam Ziegler (Carlsbad, Calif.) and junior Ryan Sharpe (Poway, Calif.) each tallied four points on two goals and two assists and three goals and one assist, respectively.
For a second-straight outing, the defense played terrific, making the job of senior netminder Gunnar Waldt (Freeland, Md.) simple, as he made only four saves and allowed three scores.
"The defense was terrific," said Pressler. "We didn’t have to play a lot of it, but they are very good at getting the ball inside and we did an excellent job of taking that away from them."
Seven different Seahawks (5-7, 0-3) tallied points and all five of their goals came out of five different sticks. Andrew Streilein, William McMenamin, Aaron Denesevich, John Norton and Kevin Gray were the goal scorers for Wagner. Freshman goalie Matt Sefcik saw over 40 shots and turned away 13 while allowing 18 goals in the loss.
Morrell got the Bulldogs on the board just 25 seconds into the game on a bounce shot working to the point after James fed him from behind the crease. McMenamin tied things up 1:27 later, but the hosts were able to net the final three goals of the first quarter to make it 4-1.
Despite scoring less than 30 seconds in, it was a bit of a slow start for Bryant. The second period played exactly like the first. Morrell scored just over one minute in after a nice feed from Ziegler from the attack X, but Wagner answered 20 seconds later to make it 5-2. Ziegler, Sharpe, and Morrell tacked on three more scores over the final 7:19 of the half, making it 8-2 at the break.
Just before the half, the Seahawks were given an extra-man opportunity, and had possession as time expired prior to the penalty being released. They had the ball to start the third and Streilein converted the man-up chance at the 14:42 mark, cutting the deficit to 8-3.
"I knew we had a problem to face out of the half, as we still had to kill off the penalty, and they were able to cut it to 8-3," said Pressler. "We were able to raddle off seven straight and really put the pressure on them, which was really pleasing to see."
The Bulldogs erupted from there, scoring the next seven goals over a five-minute stretch in the third, blowing the game wide open. James came alive with a hat trick in less than one minute of action, first scoring on a rip into the bottom left of the net from about 15 yards out. The second came in transition from point-blank range after a quick leaping pass from Ziegler, and the third score was set up by sophomore mid Kenny Massa (Huntington, N.Y.) to make it 11-3 with 11:33 to play.
The Bulldogs killed off a potential momentum booster for the Seahawks late in the third, as back-to-back Bryant penalties created a 6-on-4 opportunity. The hosts did not allow a goal after being down two men for one minute and one man for an additional minute. Waldt made a heads up save that caromed off his mask and ended up near the middle of the field, where James tracked it down to give the Bulldogs possession, as they were able to hold onto the ball allowing the penalties to be released.
"I was disappointed at all the penalties as a whole, but at the end of the day we stayed tough," said Pressler. "Those penalties could come back to bite us moving forward but we didn’t give them any momentum and did a heck of a job making up for the mistakes on defense."
Massa also rose to the occasion in the third period, as he won five-consecutive faceoffs for the Bulldogs to guide the seven-goal run. The Bulldogs continued to add to their lead in the fourth, as the score got as lopsided as 18-3, before the Seahawks scored a pair of goals late in the game.
"Obviously Tucker was a workhorse, but at the end of the day when Kenny is doing well on faceoffs, we’re doing well offensively, and that was the case today."
The 18 goals and 15 assists mark Bryant’s largest offensive outburst since April 22, 2012 in a home matchup also against Wagner. In that game, the Bulldogs defeated the Seahawks, 21-3, and had 16 helpers, making today’s victory the largest win since that 2012 meeting.
"I thought we were really good against their zone defense and we had 15 assists on 18 goals which showed we were looking for the extra pass," said Pressler. "We executed against their defense and were really unselfish all game long."
As for James, he ties Bryant’s all-time record for most points in a single game and sets Bryant’s Division I record for most assists in a game.
"Tucker lets the game come to him and he made the plays that were there for him," said Pressler. "He was really on his game, and our entire attack played great against their zone which made everyone’s job easier, and it was led by Tucker."
The Black and Gold will now have a week off in between games, as they head back on the road for a date with Saint Joseph’s in a rematch of last season’s NEC Championship. The action is set for 1:00 p.m. on April 16 in Philadelphia.
"This win was huge for us in a game that we were really focused on and since we now have a week off," said Pressler. "It was a wild week and a wild month, coming back from three weeks off, beating Robert Morris on the road, beating Brown in overtime. We have a lot of momentum heading into the final weeks of the season against NEC competition."