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Men’s lacrosse: Widener, Eastern will meet in MAC finals after taking conference titles

Thursday, 3rd May 2012

Categories Boy's/Men's, College  
 

Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 5/3/12
From Press Releases

Widener scored the contest’s last seven goals and eradicated a five-goal deficit to win the inaugural Commonwealth Conference title, 7-5, tonight at Albright in Reading.

Widener (9-7) captured its 14th conference title with the first 13 coming in the Middle Atlantic Conference and now is 24-3 in conference tournament games. It will face Eastern on Saturday at 1:00 pm in St. Davids, PA for the MAC’s automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament.

Eastern won the Freedom Conference title, 15-6 today over FDU-Florham. This is the first year the MAC was split into two conferences.

The Pride’s comeback began with the last three goals of the first half for a 5-3 deficit. Sophomore Robert Clemens (Sun Valley) had a goal and two assists with freshman Kyle Blakemore (Ridley) getting a goal and an assist.

The third quarter was an offensive struggle as both teams defense really tightened and refused to budge. Albright’s defense was breached 1:42 into the period as Josh Fox (Lower Merion) scored off a pass from fellow junior Johnny Casey (Abington) for a 5-4 contest.

Blakemore, who ended with 13 shots, leveled the match at 5-5 with 12:26 to play when he rocketed one past Andrew Torak.

The stalemate continued with both defenses again standing tall. But Clemens gave Widener the lead for good, firing one home with 5:33 to go for a 6-5 lead.

Senior Michael Bassani then came up with a huge caused turnover in the Lions zone, stripping Michael Donohoe and getting the ground ball. Widener then called timeout and Albright came out deciding to bring Torak out to challenge for a turnover. That strategy failed as senior Mark Kane (Ridley) found an open net with 2:34 left for a 7-5 cushion.

Junior Charlie Bytheway (Garnet Valley) then forced Dan Foote to commit a turnover with roughly 90 seconds left that made things academic.

Clemens had two goals and two assists, Blakemore recorded two and one and sophomore Mac Nestler made six saves for the Pride, who have won seven straight.

Albright’s offense, which had scored 102 second-half goals in 18 contests entering today, was non-existent after the intermission as it was outshot 19-8 over the final 30 minutes and 43-18 overall.

Foote closed with a goal and an assist with Torak making nine saves for the Lions (16-3).

Eastern 15, FDU-Florham 6

Eastern was unable to score in the opening 10 minutes of the Freedom Conference Championship Game against visiting FDU-Florham. Once the scoring started, however, the Eagles jumped to a 6-0 lead and never looked back en route to a 15-6 victory. The win gives the Eagles a chance to play for a MAC Championship and an NCAA Tournament bid this Saturday.

Early turnovers and patient FDU attack put the Eagles on the defensive for much of the first period. Eastern goalie Aaron Benz made three early saves to keep the visiting Devils off the board and the Eagles were able to break into the scoring column first with 5:11 on the clock when Matt Soldano caught a Chris Farrar pass 12 yards out, made a quick hitch move and tucked home his first of four goals on the day.

After AJ Ryan won the ensuing face-off, the Eagles struck again on an Andy Jameson strike from the edge of the crease. Jameson, who had been out several weeks with injury, returned to the line-up for a pair of highlight reel goals.

In what would become a pattern for the day, the Eastern attack found an extra gear in the final seconds of the period. After an FDU turnover with 30 seconds to play, the Eagles earned the offensive zone and Andrew Travers found Matt Wagner on the doorstep for a goal with 4.8 seconds on the clock. Wagner finished with three goals and an assist on the afternoon. The Eagles narrowly missed a fourth first-period goal as AJ Ryan found Chris Farrar on the left side in shooting range. Farrar beat the clock and the goalie with his shot, but it sailed just high.

Despite being out-shot 7-5 for the period, the Eagles led 3-0 after 15 minutes. Ryan added his own goal only 20 seconds into the second period. Ryan, won many of his 18 successful face-offs to himself, but it was Travis Park who chinned a tough ground ball on the face-off against hard pressure from a pair of FDU poles. Park flipped a pass over the defenders to the open Ryan who attacked the cage and unfurled a venomous effort that beat the FDU goalie high.

Soldano scored his second of the day on a dodge down the left alley and Farrar scored from Zac Ivy to make it 6-0 Eastern.

In the regular season meeting between the two schools, the Eagles had jumped to a big lead and then held off a late FDU charge for an 8-7 win. It appeared that the Devils were working to repeat that effort when their star Paul Colflesh finished a pair of goals from Adam Koontz to pull the game to 6-2 with four and a half minutes to play in the half.

The Eagles grabbed the momentum back with two tallies in the final thirty seconds to take an 8-2 lead to the locker room. The first tally came only seconds after an FDU penalty expired. Farrar found Wagner cutting in space for the goal on the doorstep. Ivy delivered the coup-de-grâce with six seconds left on a clever pass from Wagner.

The Eagles’ late charge pushed the edge to 8-2, and the FDU side, wearied from an overtime win only two nights before, was unable to mount a come-back.

Brian Goodwine scored an even-strength goal seconds after an Eastern penalty expired four minutes into the third period, but Eric Waibel, in a similar situation, scored on a good bounce shot from 15 yards out following a Farrar pass that looked like it was intended for a cutting Wagner. As they had done in the opening two periods, the Eagles again scored in the waning seconds, this time, it was Jameson. He caught a pass in transition from Kevin Anderson and uncorked a blistering strike that kissed the crossbar and the right upright on its way to the twine.

The Eagles pushed the difference to eight goals early in the fourth on a Soldano goal. The junior midfielder scored again after splitting a double-team and dropping a ball into an open goal as the Devils pushed out to try for a turnover. Farrar, Will Johnson, and Wagner scored the final three goals of the day for the Eagles and Koontz put in three in the final nine minutes for the final score.

Benz made ten saves in 51 minutes to earn the win. Patt Groschan and Dave Hoger each made a stop in relief. The Eagles await the result of this evening’s Commonwealth Championship game between top-seeded Albright and second-seeded Widener. If Albright wins, the Lions will host Saturday’s final. If Widener wins, then Eastern will host the Pride in a 1 pm game on Olson Field. The MAC Champion will earn the League’s Automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

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