Phillylacrosse.com Posted 5/6/16
From Press Release
Senior midfielder Kevin Forster (La Salle, Duke’s LC) scored five goals and added an assist as the top-seeded Saint Joseph’s men’s lacrosse team advanced to the NEC championship for the second consecutive season with a 14-7 win over fourth-seeded Robert Morris at Sweeney Field on Thursday afternoon.
The Hawks host third-seeded Hobart at 1 p.m. Saturday in the NEC title game. Hobart surprised No. 2 Bryant, 7-6.
With the win, the Hawks tied a program record for wins in a season with 12. In addition, head coach Taylor Wray became the program’s all-time leader in coaching victories with 45, surpassing the previous mark held by Paul Perdue. Junior goalkeeper T.J. Jones also set a career wins mark, notching his 26th victory to pass Ryan McQuade on the all-time list.
“I was really pleased with how our team hung in there and stuck together,” said Wray following the game. “Down 3-2 at the half, it would have been easy to start pressing and trying to force things to happen. We didn’t do that, we stuck with the plan and that is the sign of a mature team. The first half was a stalemate and I give all the credit in the world to Robert Morris. They have played some really good lacrosse in the last few weeks, they are such an dangerous team on offense and their defense improved tremendously over the course of the season.
“What I thought changed the dynamic of the game was the play of our second midfield line and senior Pat Swanick’s goal. When your unsung guys start making plays it inspires your team and we saw that in the second half today. When you qualify for the postseason, you are on bonus time and I’m thrilled to have another practice and another game to play with this group.”
The win was far from a sure thing in the first half as Robert Morris (7-8) tallied the first two goals of the game, taking a 2-0 lead after the first quarter on goals by Luke Laszkiewicz and Eric Rankel (Downingtown West).
Saint Joseph’s (12-3) got on the board in the second as junior midfielder Kevin Reidinger netted his first of the game two and a half minutes into the frame. Rankel tallied again two minutes later to restore the two-goal edge, but Reidinger answered with 4:17 to go to send the Hawks into the locker room with a one-goal deficit.
Forster equalized just over a minute into the third quarter with an unassisted tally, but Rankel scored again with 11:09 to go to put the Colonials back on top, 4-3. Forster lit the lamp again a minute later to tie the score and kickstart a 6-1 run that put the Hawks in control.
Junior attackman Mike Rastivo, the NEC Player of the Year, extended his point streak to 37 consecutive games and gave the Hawks their first lead of the day with a goal at the eight-minute mark. Junior midfielder Marcus Milione then doubled the lead a minute and a half later before Leighton Gibson brought RMU back within one at the end of the third.
SJU pulled away in the final stanza, scoring three times in the first two minutes. Forster netted a pair in quick succession before Davis Stoner put the Hawks up 9-5 with a goal 10 seconds later. After Laszkiewicz pulled Robert Morris back within three with 11:32 to play, senior attackman Pat Swanick (St. Joseph’s Prep) answered a minute later to make it a 10-6 game.
Redshirt sophomore midfielder Hayes McGinley then struck twice, scoring at the 8:20 mark and again with six minutes to go to effectively ice the game. James Rahe scored a man-up goal with 4:13 to go, but McGinley finished off his hat trick with 2:43 to play, and Forster added his fifth of the day 47 seconds later to seal the deal and send the Hawks into the championship game.
Jones made six saves in the game, while Matt Bukovac tallied nine for the Colonials. Junior midfielder Mike Lanham (Garnet Valley) continued his season-long dominance of the face-off X, going 18-of-25 on the afternoon. The Hawks outshot the Colonials by a 42-28 margin as well.