Hobart Stuns Bryant in NEC Lacrosse Semifinal in Philly

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PHILADELPHIA, PA. – In a low scoring game full of turnovers and physical defense, the Bryant University men’s lacrosse team had a chance to net the equalizer with 30 seconds to play, but a pair of shots were saved as Hobart shocked the defending Northeast Conference Tournament champs in Thursday’s semifinal matchup, 7-6.

The Bulldogs (10-5, 5-2 NEC) were carried offensively by a hat trick from junior attack Tucker James (Essex Fells, N.J.). He was the only member of the second seed to tally more than one point. Senior netminder Gunnar Waldt (Freeland, Md.) made 12 stops in the loss.

The Statesmen (9-6, 5-2) advance to Saturday’s championship game against the host St. Joseph’s behind a hat trick from attack Frank Brown. Attacker Chris Aslanian netted a goal and had two helpers, as six others had points. Jackson Brown and the defense were the stars of the game, though he only made eight saves, they were all key stops.

The pace of the game was determined early on, as Hobart jumped out the gates physical and meticulous offensively. Following a Bryant penalty, the Statesmen took advantage of the extra man and Frank Brown netted the first goal of the contest at the 10:49 mark.

It took the Bulldogs nearly five full minutes, but after a Waldt save he pushed the ball forward and long-stick mid Cody O’Donnell (Smithfield, R.I.) found senior attack Shane Morrell (Glen Mills, Pa.) for the equalizer. But J Andrew Spallanzani won the ensuing faceoff and ended up scoring on a rip from 15 yards out to make it 2-1 at the 5:25 mark, and the score remained the same through the period.

Goals started to pour in over the second quarter, as six found the back of the net, almost as many as the other three combined. Aslanian curled from behind the cage and fired in a leaping shot to give the Statesmen a two-goal lead, 3-1, just 34 seconds into the frame.

Tom Forsberg (Huntington, N.Y.) responded just 30 ticks later, but Matthew Pedicine won the next faceoff and took it all the way to make it 4-2 with 13:32 to go. James got Bryant back on the board with 9:12 remaining in the half, but Hobart just kept answering, as Frank Brown completed his hat trick over the final seven minutes, making it 6-3 at the break.

Goals came at a premium in the second half, but Bryant was the able to net a pair in the third on a rip from Kyle Cornell (Darien, Conn.) and James’ second, cutting the deficit to a single goal once more, 6-5.

Just 19 seconds into the fourth, on a crazy faceoff that was won by the Statesmen, Aslanian found Sean Donnelly who jumped high just in front of the crease. Waldt went after the ball, but fell off balance and went down to his left, allowing Donnelly to net an easy goal, making it 7-5.

After a pair of slashing calls against the Statesmen at the 9:07 mark, the Bulldogs operated with a 6-on-4 advantage for a minute of play. The Bulldogs were unable to get a good look at the net and unable to jump on the opportunity.

Both sides defended vigorously from there, as quality shots were hard to come by. After the Bulldogs forced a delay of game on Hobart, they moved quickly on the other end and James was able to cage his third to make it 7-6 with five minutes to play.

The Bulldogs had a pair of chances over the next four minutes, but could not capitalize. After a save by Waldt, the Bulldogs cleared it successfully and called a timeout to talk things over with 31 seconds to play.

Immediately out of the timeout, sophomore mid Tom Kennedy (Farmingdale, N.Y.) made a run to his right and fired a bounce shot that ricocheted off of Jackson Brown. Morrell came up with the carom and had it for one final chance. He fired a low shot curling to his strong hand, but the winder was again turned away and sent well behind the crease with just a few seconds to go, as the clock and chances for a fifth-straight NEC Tournament title winded down.

Thursday’s loss is something the Bulldogs are not too accustomed to, as they had won eight-consecutive league tournament games entering the contest. Bryant will now hope that its top-20 ranking and top-15 RPI ranking can serve a prominent role, with Sunday’s NCAA Tournament Selection Show still looming. The Bulldogs can still get an at-large bid, and will likely see a play-in game in their future if a fourth-straight trip to the NCAA Tournament lies ahead.

The selection show can be watched live on ESPNU at 9:00 p.m.