Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 5/4/16
From Press Release
Falling behind in the second half is typically a recipe for disaster. For the Ursinus College men’s lacrosse team, it’s unconventional winning formula that has them back in the Centennial Conference championship.
Trailing by three goals midway through the third quarter to a Franklin & Marshall team firing on all cylinders, the 17th-ranked Bears pulled another rabbit out of their hats, rattling off seven straight goals to storm ahead for good and rode the wave all the way to a 15-12 victory in a CC semifinal under the Patterson Field lights. Senior Steve Mussoline (Allentown Central Catholic) went off for six points – the most ever by an Ursinus player in a conference playoff game – and classmate Logan Panaccione added three goals and an assist as Ursinus (14-2) advanced to the CC championship for the second straight season. The second-seeded Bears will take their shot at top-seeded Gettysburg, an 18-8 winner over fourth-seeded Swarthmore on Wednesday, at 1 p.m. Saturday in a rematch of last year’s title game at The Battlefield.
When freshman Sam Isola scored the second of back-to-back goals at the 7:16 mark of the first, the Bears were up 3-1 and looked primed for another rout of an F&M squad they pasted by 10 goals on the road during the regular season. But the Diplomats (12-5) had other ideas.
With Sean Rogers – the CC lead in goals and points – directing the offense, F&M outscored the home side, 6-1, in the second quarter. The Diplomats’ sophomore star assisted on three of those tallies during the spurt (and had five helpers by halftime), including one by Michael Bossidy with 21 seconds left in the first half that sent the Blue and White into the locker room with a 9-6 lead.
As they’ve made a habit of doing, the Bears saved their best stuff for the second stanza. After Bossidy finished another feed from Rogers to give the Diplomats a 9-6 lead with 9:39 to play, Ursinus reeled off seven unanswered goals spanning the end of the third quarter to leave hot-starting F&M reeling.
Sophomore Gerard Brown started the game-turning spurt – the Bears’ third run of at least seven goals in as many games – with an unassisted strike at 7:51, and Mussoline bulled his way through a double team and beat Diplomats goalie Scott Hatch to slice the deficit to one just 56 seconds later.
Mussoline provided the tying goal on a similar finish with 3:15 showing on the third-period clock, and eight seconds later the Bears were playing from in front; senior James Fairchild won the ensuing faceoff and found Panaccione wide open in front of the cage for an easy finish and a 10-9 lead. It was the second assist in as many games for Fairchild, who had none in 54 career games before his recent exploits.
Panaccione doubled the lead with a one-touch finish on a nice feed from sophomore Ian Desenberg from behind the cage, and senior Mike Durst’s top-shelf hand cannon with 8.0 ticks remaining in the frame stretched the advantage to 12-9.
Ursinus wasn’t done there. Mussoline combined with junior Conor Fitzgerald for a picture-perfect give-and-go, the junior converting with a lefty laser to the lower right corner for a 13-9 edge with 11:34 to play. The teams traded goals down the stretch, the Diplomats unable to get any closer than three.
The Bears trailed scored seven goals in a row in the second half of a 10-8 victory at Haverford last Wednesday and ran off ten in a row in last Saturday’s 12-5 win over McDaniel. In its last three games, Ursinus has outscored its opponents 17-2 in the third quarter.
Michael Bossidy had four goals and an assist for F&M, which got a goal and a CC postseason-record seven assists from Rogers. Mike Wasik finished with three goals and Mike Rama chipped in a pair of markers, while Wes Rhudy collected four ground balls and three caused turnovers. Hatch registered eight saves for the Diplomats, who came in ranked 8th in the South Region (Ursinus is 7th) and reached the CC title game in 2013 and 2014 before missing the postseason a year ago.
Mussoline’s final ledger showed four goals and two assists, his sixth hat-trick of the season. Panaccione netted a hat-trick for the second straight game and the fourth time this year, and Desenberg collected two goals and two assists. Isola recorded two goals for the Bears, who held a 37-33 advantage in shots and won 21 of 30 faceoffs thanks to Fairchild (21-of-29), who had five ground balls.
Seniors Anthony Torello (Kennett) and Patrick O’Donoghue caused two turnovers apiece, and freshman Tim Miller scooped up four grounders in front of senior goalkeeper Brian Neff, who made six of his nine saves after halftime and even took an unexpected shot in the first quarter, firing a bouncer just wide of the Diplomat cage.
Ursinus extended its home winning streak to 11 games and won its fifth consecutive night game at Patterson Field.
The first step in their postseason journey complete, the Bears now set their sights on a matchup with unprecedented implications. Ursinus has never beaten Gettysburg, which owns a 16-0 all-time advantage, and the Bears will go for their first Centennial Conference championship against a Bullets squad that dealt them three defeats by a combined four goals a year ago, including one-goal heart-breakers in the CC title game and NCAA Tournament second round. The much-anticipated rematch gets underway at 1 p.m. at Shirk Field.