By Bradley Schlegel
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 5/3/15
Shane Morrell says the Bryant University lacrosse team would have preferred to host the Northeast Conference Championship Tournament.
But playing the tournament at St. Joseph’s University suited Morrell and Connor Dent just fine.
“It’s the next best thing for Connor and me,” Morrell said.
Playing in front of family and friends Saturday, Morrell and Dent celebrated the Bulldogs’ fourth straight conference tournament title.
Morrell, a redshirt junior from Episcopal Academy, scored three goals to help lead Bryant University to a 10-6 victory over the host Hawks at Sweeney Field. He was named to the all-tournament team.
Dent, a senior defender from St. Joseph’s Prep, played a crucial role in limiting St. Joe’s to just two second-half goals.
“It’s great to be back,” said Dent, who had one caused turnover.
Dent, who lives 10 minutes away in Havertown, didn’t go home on the trip. He said lacrosse was the focus of the trip.
“I’ll go home when the season is over,” Dent said.
The Bulldogs, who built a 5-1 lead early in the second quarter, clinched an automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament. Their first tournament opponent will be announced tonight.
Ryan McGee finished with three goals and two assists for the Hawks, who for the second straight year went undefeated in the regular season NEC slate.
St. Joe’s is unlikely to get an at-large berth.
“Right now, I feel crushed,” St. Joe’s coach Taylor Wray said. “We worked so hard for so long to get to this point. But it didn’t work out.”
Wray said he felt especially bad for his 12 seniors.
“They put in so much into getting to this point,” he said. “My heart goes out to them, because they will never get this chance again.”
Kevin Massa won 17 of 20 face offs for Bryant University, which took a quick 4-0 lead. Morrell opened the scoring with consecutive goals early in the first quarter.
His third goal, off an assist from Brady O’Donnell, put them ahead 5-1 four minutes into the second quarter.
“We made some critical errors early,” Wray said. “We fell behind, and then we were forced to chase. We needed to play very well to win, but we didn’t do enough.”
The Hawks scored three straight goals late in the second half to pull within 5-4 at halftime. But they were shutout, while allowing three goals, in the third quarter.
“There was not a doubt in my mind we would not lose (in the tournament),” Dent said. “We came here to win.”