by Tom Utescher
Final scores often don’t reflect the nature of entire games, and a case in point was seen at Chestnut Hill College last Saturday, when the men’s lacrosse team took the field for its second home game of the season.
With less than nine minutes remaining in the Griffins’ East Coast Conference opener, they were locked up at 4-4 with the New York Institute of Technology, but the visiting Bears scored three times over the next four minutes, then funneled in three more goals in the final one minute and 12 seconds.
CHC slipped to 1-3 overall with the 10-4 setback, while the New Yorkers improved to 3-2. Prior to the Bears’ final 72-second fusillade, the shot count had been even at 28-all for the game. NYIT owned a slim edge in face-offs won, 10-8, but wound up with a more significant advantage in ground balls, 26-16.
“It wasn’t really a 10-4 game; the last three was just us chasing around,” remarked Chestnut Hill head coach Brian Dougherty. “It really doesn’t matter if it’s 7-4 or 10-4, we lost. We’ve been right there in every game so far, but I’m getting tired of saying that. We’ve had these short lapses when the other team has a four-goal run or a five-goal run. We’re falling asleep at come crucial times.”
The first quarter of play didn’t point toward a 14-goal game; the lone marker in the period came from CHC freshman Alec Dambach, who scored unassisted about five-and-a-half minutes in. Five-and-a-half minutes into the second round, the hosts were still ahead, then after Ryan Brunet got NYIT on the board, Luke Miller moved the Bears ahead, 2-1, with 4:47 remaining in the first half. That tally held up until the interlude.
“I thought we outplayed them in the first half,” Dougherty said. “We had so many opportunities, but we could never get a two-goal lead or a three-goal lead.”
On the snow-fringed field in the Plymouth Whitemarsh High School football stadium, the Griffins played solid defense through much of the second period, but the visitors possessed the ball a good deal of the time.
“That’s what happens when you stay on defense long enough,” CHC’s mentor observed. “You hang in there well, but eventually you’re going to have a little breakdown, or the other team’s going to figure something out.”
Early in the third quarter NYIT’s Cory Triola scored to give his club a 3-1 lead, but a little later Chestnut Hill tied the match in a span of just over two minutes. First, Mark Winkelspecht faded off the right post and flipped the ball back in front to set up a strike by fellow senior Mike Melnychenko.
CHC remained on the attack, with Melnychenko hitting a post on another attempt and with Dambach firing wide of the cage. The Griffins maintained possession and with 9:28 left in the period Winkelspecht earned a second assist, setting up a point-blank shot by sophomore Tanner Fisher.
A few minutes after that, the Bears’ Andrew Schweigert sprinted up the middle with the ball and then delivered it to Triola, who scored from about eight yards out on the left.
That sent the visitors into the fourth frame with a 4-3 lead, but they soon found themselves a man down due to a slashing call. The Griffins capitalized, with Fisher passing from the top of the offensive set to senior Michael Landau on his left. Landau found the net from 10 yards out or so, leveling the score at 4-4 with 11:21 left to play.
Three minutes after that, NYIT’s Brunet notched his second goal of the day, launching a shot from far outside on the left. CHC had a chance to tie during a 30-second Bears penalty, but the lone serious shot by the Griffins, taken by Winkelspecht, was deflected up and away by visiting keeper Alex Seltzer.
NYIT’s Miller registered his second assist in a row as he set up a marker by Shawn Murphy, then Miller rang up his second goal of the day to make it 7-4 with four minutes to go. Down the stretch, it just seemed like the field was tilted towards the Bears’ attacking end. The final three-point spurt began with Triola’s third goal of the afternoon, then teammates Tom Hughes and Will Kistinger finished it off.
Seltzer logged 10 saves in the winning cause, while CHC senior Joe Donnelly stopped 11 shots at the other end.
Coach Dougherty concluded, “Offensively, I felt like we just struggled to score all day; four goals is disappointing. Defensively, we held in there for a long time and we just broke down at the end.”