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Men’s lacrosse: @SJUHawks_MLAX earns key NEC 8-7 win over Bryant on McGee buzzer-beater

Sunday, 29th March 2015

Categories Boy's/Men's, College  
 

Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 3/29/15
From Press Release

Senior attackman Ryan McGee scored with one second remaining in regulation to lift the Saint Joseph’s men’s lacrosse team to an 8-7 victory over Bryant in the Hawks’ Northeast Conference opener on this afternoon at the Bryant Turf Complex. With the win, the Hawks improve to 5-5 overall and 1-0 in the NEC while the Bulldogs fall to 2-7 overall and 0-2 in the NEC.

“We’ve been on the other side of games like this one and I feel like today we never panicked, and we stayed composed and never stopped believing we could get it done,” said head coach Taylor Wray following the game. “You have to get a little lucky, but I think you also need to create some of your own luck by making hustle plays and staying in the moment. We did that today.”

Trailing 7-5 with 1:50 remaining in the game, Saint Joseph’s sophomore face-off specialist Mike Lanham (Garnet Valley) won the face-off against Bryant’s All-American Kevin Massa to earn possession for the Crimson and Gray. Sophomore midfielder Anthony Joaquim scooped up the ground ball and raced down the field en route to an SJU timeout.

Coming out of the timeout, junior attack Pat Swanick (St. Joseph’s Prep) scored on a dish from sophomore attack Mike Rastivo to pull the Hawks to within one, 7-6, with 1:10 to play.

Bryant would win the ensuing face-off on an SJU violation from the X, but Saint Joseph’s senior defenseman Kevin Barrow (Avon Grove) caused his second turnover of the game and gobbled up the ground ball to gain possession for the Hawks with 40 ticks to go.

The Hawks cleared the ball upfield, and Barrow took a hit on a Bryant illegal bodycheck to earn the Hawks a 1:00 EMO opportunity with 32.8 seconds remaining in regulation.

And the Crimson and Gray wouldn’t waste that opportunity.

This time, it would be Swanick who would find Rastivo, and Rastivo buried his shot low into the net to tie it up, 7-7, with 6.5 remaining in regulation.

Lanham would come through with yet another win against Massa at the X and scoop up the ground ball before racing into the Hawks’ offensive third of the field. The offensive unit got the ball to McGee, who absolutely buried his shot against Bulldogs goalkeeper Gunnar Waldt with one tick remaining for the win.

“That’s as wild a finish to a game as I have ever been a part of,” added Wray. “I give Bryant a lot of credit. They played a terrific game. To score three goals in the final 70 seconds is really unbelievable.”

Trailing 1-0 after an early Bryant goal from Tom Kennedy, the Hawks responded with a three-goal run spanned 7:43 to jumped out to a 3-1 lead with 1:30 to play in the first period.

Redshirt junior Kevin Forster (La Salle) scored the first goal of that run, as the Maryland transfer got a step on Bryant’s Kenny Massa, drove to his left and fired his shot past Waldt to even the score, 1-1, at the 9:13 mark.

Just under four minutes later and heavily defended on the inside, the Hawks got to ball outside to senior attack Kyle Bruun, who made a quick spin move to the left around his defender and found the bottom corner of the net from way out to give SJU its first lead of the game, 2-1.

Just minutes later, a failed Bryant clear attempt caused by Barrow earned SJU possession back at the midfield. The Hawks pushed the ball up on a two-on-one situation, and senior attack Mike Dougherty (Malvern Prep) scored on the ride to extend SJU’s lead to two, 3-1, with 1:30 to play in the first.

Bryant responded with three consecutive goals, scoring with 45 seconds left in the first and then at the 6:12 and 2:19 marks of the second period, the third of which was an EMO goal.

With the Hawks trailing 4-3 and with just one tick left on the scoreboard before the halftime break, Forster showed a brilliant shot fake to force Bryant’s defensive unit to slide too early. With the middle left wide open, Forster shuffled a pass in to freshman attack Chris Blewitt, who cut right in front of Waldt and hit the back of the net to even the score, 4-4, heading into the halftime break.

Dougherty scored his second goal of the game on an outside rocket on a dish from Blewitt to put the Hawks back ahead, 5-4, at the 5:11 mark of the third, but back-to-back scores by Bryant’s Shane Morrell with 2:47 left in the third and 3:40 into the fourth put the Bulldogs back ahead by two.

Bryant’s Collins Gantz added a score for the Bulldogs with just under two minutes to play to put Bryant up by two heading into the final 1:50, but Swanick, Rastivo, and McGee would combine for three goals in 70 seconds for the win.

For the game, Bryant held a slight 32-29 edge in shots and a 40-23 advantage in ground balls as a result of Massa’s 14-for-18, 10-ground ball day at the X. However, the Hawks turned the ball over just nine times in comparison the Bryant’s 14, which included six caused turnovers and five coming in the form of failed clear attempts.

McGee (8) and Dougherty combined for 14 shots while Swanick and Joaquim scooped up five ground balls apiece.

Lanham won four possessions at the X, but his final two came in the biggest moments of the game for the Hawks, leading to SJU’s sixth and eighth goals in the final 70 seconds.

The Hawks, who entered the game ranked second in the nation in man-down defense, also held the Bulldogs to just 1-of-7 in EMO opportunities.

Sophomore goalkeeper T.J. Jones (3-3, 1-0 NEC) made six saves in a full-game effort.

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