CHC sophomore Casey Brown (right) looks for a cutter while being guarded by Nyle Worrell of St. Thomas Aquinas. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

by Tom Utescher

In front of a holiday weekend crowd, the men of Chestnut Hill College extended their current lacrosse win streak to four games as they overwhelmed visiting St. Thomas Aquinas College last Saturday, 17-4.

The East Coast Conference victory raised the Griffins’ conference mark to 5-1 and upped their overall record to 7-3.

The Spartans of St. Thomas Aquinas (also known as STAC) headed back to Sparkill, N.Y. with a mark of 1-5 in the ECC, and 4-8 overall.

CHC received a game-high four goals from junior Dylan Klusaritz and got hat tricks from seniors Andrew Dooley and Tanner Fisher, while in goal senior Tom McDermott started and played a little more than 50 minutes. He made two saves, and freshman Steve Hogan made one stop after entering the game with nine-and-a-half minutes to go.

Asked about his team’s recent roll, Chestnut Hill head coach Brian Dougherty said, “Our schedule broke, so we’re playing teams who are a little bit down in our conference. That being said, we’re also taking care of business when we need to.

“It’s been a long season and I think we’ve come together,” he continued. “We also got some important guys back from injuries, like Tanner Fisher and Jim DeCarlo [a senior defenseman out of La Salle High School].”

After junior Joshua Pope initiated the scoring just over four minutes into Saturday’s match, CHC led the rest of the way. In the middle of the period, strikes by seniors Justin Albarran and Alec Dambach (the Griffins’ captain) put the hosts up 3-0 before Tyler Senatore got the Spartans on the board with 4:54 remaining in the opening period.

A little later, Chestnut Hill’s Kulsartiz and Dooley scored 37 seconds apart to make it 5-1, then the Griffins rang up the first two goals of the second quarter thanks to Dooley and Fisher. After the seventh CHC goal with 11:22 left in the half, the scoreboard took a breather, although the hosts had possession of the ball much of the time.

Later, with four-and-a-half minutes to go before the intermission, the visitors marked down a goal for Briele Caples, but the local laxers had the last word in the half, with Klusartiz finding the net off a feed from Dambach to make it 8-2.

Although his squad appeared to be firmly in control, Coach Dougherty cautioned, “There are teams you feel you should beat, but you still don’t want to go out there overconfident, because you never know…”

After halftime, the frustrated Spartans gave the Griffins even more of an advantage by earning a number of penalties. CHC freshman Carson Rees sent a shot off a pipe a little more than two minutes into the third quarter, and with just over four minutes gone Fisher found the net.

STAC matched that marker with Caples’ second goal of the game, but then the visitors began to hamper themselves with penalties one more. A man had just come out of the box but was unable to get back into the mix before Dooley completed his hat trick for Chestnut Hill with 4:53 to go in the third round.

Playing some small ball with precise interior passing, the Griffins added goals by Rees and Klusaritz, and it looked like CHC was going to roll into the fourth quarter with a 12-3 advantage. They would manage to boost their lead into double digits right at the end of the third, though. Bringing the ball inbounds from the right sideline in the attack zone with just five seconds left, Griffins junior Gerard Lyle carried the ball in a few yards and whipped it inside to Dambach, who scored from just off the crease with one second to go.

In the fourth frame, Fisher traded goals with the Spartans’ Luke Madry in the early minutes for a 14-4 tally, then the Griffins finished it out with markers by Kusaritz, sophomore Troy Ellers, and freshman Jake Smith. The last shot actually belonged to STAC’s Nyle Worrell, who let fly with 20 seconds to go and saw his ball stopped by CHC’s Hogan.

“Our defense is really doing a great job of holding the fort out there,” Dougherty said. “We only gave up four goals last game and four today, so I think that’s kind of been our strong point. Winning the face-offs is also big; when you have the ball all the time it’s much more fun to play.”

Chestnut Hill led 20-3 in that category, and outshot the Spartans 31-7 for the day.

With their 5-1 mark in the ECC, the Griffins appear to be well-positioned for the playoffs, but their schedule still lists two tough conference contests against nationally-ranked New York Institute of Technology and against Molloy College.

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