By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 3/14/11
Chestnut Hill College continued to bask in the aftermath of Sunday’s stunning 8-7 overtime victory over No. 2 ranked Mercyhurst in an East Coast Conference men’s lacrosse contest at Plymouth Whitemarsh High’s Victory Field.
The Griffins (3-2 overall) learned just how impressive their win was today when the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association released its Division II rankings and included Chestnut Hill in the “also receiving votes” list (Mercyhurst fell to No. 6).
“If you want to rank it, it’s one of the bigger wins,” said CHC first-year coach Brian Dougherty. “Look at the facts. This is up there.”
Dougherty’s Griffins indeed pulled off one of the biggest upsets in recent years. CHC – in its second year of play – has only one junior and no seniors on its roster. It also had been 0-12 in ECC games.
Last year Mercyhurst went 13-1, and of its wins was an 18-2 romp over Chestnut Hill.
This year, Chestnut Hill overcame a two-goal deficit in the fourth quarter by outscoring the Lakers 4-1 to take a 7-6 lead with just over a minute to play. Mercyhurst (3-1) rallied in that final stretch, evening the score at seven when senior Andy Winslow connected off a pass from sophomore James Chayka with seven seconds to play.
Both teams then went back and forth in overtime before freshman Mike Landau (alum of District 3’s Hempfield) earned the upset win with an unassisted score at the 2:46 mark.
“My feelings about defeating the No. 2 team in the country are pretty much speechless,” said sophomore Mark Winkelspecht (Parkland grad), who had three goals and an assist. “If felt great knowing that all the hard work and dedication that our team has put in this season has paid off and that were moving in the right direction.
“With this win it proves that we have the talent to compete with anyone in the nation as long as we keep the hard work up and remain consistent and don’t let this it go to our heads,”
The Griffins showed tremendous resiliency all day. They fell behind, 3-0, in the first period, but would not relent as Winkelspecht and Bart Pierre scored in the second period to make it a 3-2 game at halftime.
The Lakers opened the second half with back-to-back goals. Sophomore Zac Reid took Winslow’s feed and beat the Maverick netminder at 13:19 of the third while junior Kyle Kallay got in on the act at the 8:49 mark, giving the Lakers a three-goal edge again.
The Griffins, however, closed the gap and started a four-goal run that led the teams into the fourth when Winkelspecht beat senior Zach Nash with 3:52 showing on the clock.
Mercyhurst finished the game with a 42-28 advantage in shots and committed two less turnovers than the Griffins, 19-17. But CHC got key efforts from sophomore goalie Dakota Maurer (Warwick High, 13 saves) and sophomore middie Alex Sabia (Roman Catholic, 8 of 11 in face-offs, six groundballs). Landau, who is the captain, had two goals and one assist, Shane Morlock had a goal and two assists and freshman attackman Mike Melnychenko had five groundballs and three caused turnovers.
“My feelings are pretty simple today, move forward to practice and preparing for the next game,” Maurer said. “I came to college as a lacrosse player longing for that feeling that we had on Sunday. It was all athletes live for, pure joy and excitement.
“Our schedule is winnable, our victory on Sunday proved to myself and the team that we can achieve anything; this year as sophomores and freshmen.”
Dougherty has had his share of lacrosse successes. A former NCAA Goalie of the Year at the University of Maryland, he led the Philadelphia Barrage to two Major League Lacrosse championships and last summer helped Philadelphia GMH win a National post-collegiate club lacrosse crown.
Of course, later in the summer he helped team USA reclaim its perch atop the world with a glorious win over Canada in the FIL championships at Manchester, England.
Dougherty – who was an assistant at Haverford College and then last year at Penn, didn’t get the Chestnut Hill job until late in the fall. He had little time – and no Fall Ball – to prepare for the season. But Dougherty appears to be building a bond quickly with his young Griffins.
Earlier in the year, Chestnut Hill held its own against No. 1 C.W. Post, staying within a goal until early in the second period.
“That’s the great thing I’ve noticed,” Dougherty said. “I have only been here four months. I had no Fall Ball and our first practice was Jan. 17.
“We put in a whole new language and a new system; a new style of play. It’s taken time, but it seems like the guys aren’t afraid of these big guys.
“We played two good quarters against C.W. Post, but we also played one bad one and one OK one. Today we challenged the guys to put it all together and play four good quarters.”
Said Maurer: “Coach Doc has done so much for this team. Not only strategy wise, and actual lacrosse coaching but ever since his arrival the teams energy has shifted. His influence is just as much mental as it is physical right now; just a complete turnaround in every way.”
Tags: Chestnut Hill College