Bulldogs top Bobcats, 11-6, advance to NEC Championship Sunday vs. Mountaineers
MOON TOWNSHIP, Pa. – Eight different players scored a goal for the second-seeded Bryant University men's lacrosse team as the Bulldogs recorded an 11-6 victory over #3 Quinnipiac in Friday's Northeast Conference Semifinal at Joe Walton Stadium to earn the school's first-ever Division I playoff win.
With the victory, the Bulldogs (13-4) advance to Sunday's NEC Championship, where they will take on fourth-seed Mount St. Mary's (6-8) after the Mountaineers pulled off a 16-15 overtime victory over host and top-seeded Robert Morris in Friday's early contest. The title bout is slated for a 1 p.m. start time.
"That is certainly an extra carrot, for us to win our first NEC Tournament game and the school's first playoff game in Division I," said head coach Mike Pressler. "At the end of the day, it was all about getting to the finals. I'm proud of my guys for finding a way to put them away in the second half and beat Quinnipiac."
After fighting to maintain a lead through the first two quarters, the Bulldogs outscored the Bobcats (3-11), 6-2, in the second half and 4-1 in the fourth quarter alone. Four players recorded a trio of points while senior Max Weisenberg (Long Beach, N.Y.), junior Cody Isdaner (Gladwyne, Pa.) and freshman Brian Schlansker (Glenville, N.Y.) each netted a pair of tallies in the victory.
"That has been the story of our year, spreading the wealth on offense," said Pressler. "I don't think we had our best stuff on offense today. I don't think we had our best stuff period today."
Frosh Kevin Massa (Huntington, N.Y.) went an impressive 15-of-20 in the game, including a 5-for-5 mark in the fourth quarter, picking up a game-best eight ground balls. On the day, the Black and Gold dominated the ground game, 37-18, while senior goalie Jameson Love (Darien, Conn.) made eight stops.
Quinnipiac scored the first goal of the game two minutes into Friday's Semifinal, but the Bulldogs responded with two quick tallies to take a 2-1 lead. But seconds after the go-ahead goal, the first of back-to-back Schlansker scores, a lightning delay would send both teams to the locker rooms for 55 minutes.
The break put a damper on Bryant's momentum, and while the Bulldogs got a second goal from Schlansker with 6:12 left in the first, Quinnipiac controlled much of the pace. And the Bobcats capitalized on the swing, scoring three straight spanning the quarters to go up, 4-3, with 13:17 to play before halftime.
But a pass across the crease from Isdaner to senior attack Travis Harrington (Vestal, N.Y.) evened the game back up at 4-4 with 9:26 to go in the second, and the Bulldogs would reclaim the lead at the 4:04 mark when junior Peter McMahon (Wilton, Conn.) picked up the ground ball after a QU save and put it home for a one-goal edge that would stick through the break.
In the third, sophomore Colin Dunster (Cos Cob, Conn.) gave the Bulldogs a two-score cushion with an unassisted tally, and while the Bobcats would get it back three minutes later, Bryant would regain the two-goal margin when Harrington sent the perfect pass to Isdaner streaking down in front of the net.
Just 59 seconds into the fourth, Weisenberg gave Bryant its largest lead of the game to that point, firing a one-time laser off a Dunster pass for an 8-5 advantage, and the Bulldogs never looked back. Isdaner notched his second tally at the 10:27 mark, and Weisenberg hammered home a pass from Harrington to double-up the Bobcats, 10-5, with 9:15 left in regulation.
Dan Sipperly (Greenwich, N.Y.) would complete the Bryant scoring with 4:31 showing on the clock, lacing a shot into the upper 90 for an 11-5 lead. Brendan Wilbur would get the last goal of the game with 52 ticks to play, but Quinnipiac couldn't stop the Bulldogs from punching their ticket into Sunday's NEC title game.
The evening saw the Bulldogs outshoot the Bobcats, 33-24, as the higher seed won 16 of the game's 21 total faceoffs. Bryant would go 0-for-3 on extra-man opportunities, though, and the team struggled with turnovers, committing 19 giveaways in the contest.
Now, the Bulldogs must look forward to facing the reigning NEC Tournament Champion Mountaineers Sunday afternoon. Bryant topped Mount St. Mary's at home earlier in the season, 17-9, but the four seed isn't afraid of being the underdog after stunning regular-season champ Robert Morris in the first semifinal.
"What happened previously this season… there's just no correlation," said Pressler. "They are a much different team than we played back then, and we are certainly a different team too. They came out here tonight and knocked off Robert Morris at home in a game that Robert Morris really took it to them, so credit goes to Mount St. Mary's for just a great win to get to the final.
"The Mount St. Mary's team we saw today against Robert Morris is the team we thought we'd see for most of the season," added Pressler. "They've had their ups and downs just as we have, but I said to our guys when we played them last, Mount St. Mary's is as potent a team on offense as there is in college lacrosse."