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.@SJUHawks_MLax rallies past Robert Morris, 8-7; will host Northeast Conference championships

Saturday, 28th April 2018

Categories Boy's/Men's, College  
 

Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 4/28/18
From Press Release

Trailing by two at the 14:10 mark of the third quarter, the Hawks stormed back to score four in a row and redshirt freshman goalkeeper Mike Adler made a key save with 1:38 to play as the Saint Joseph’s men’s lacrosse squad defeated #18/20 Robert Morris (10-4, 4-2) by a final score of 8-7 in Northeast Conference action at Joe Walton Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

The win marks SJU’s second over a ranked opponent this season and third in the history of the program.

With their program-record 10th consecutive win, the Hawks improve to 10-3 and finish the NEC regular season undefeated, at 6-0, to claim the 2018 NEC regular-season title and earn the right to host the 2018 NEC Championship, scheduled for Thursday, May 3 and Saturday, May 5, on Sweeney Field.

As has been the case in every league game this year, Adler (9-3, 6-0 NEC) was outstanding in net. He made 12 saves, including 10 in the second-half (six in the fourth quarter), vs. seven goals allowed in the full 60:00.

Adler backstopped the defensive unit of starting defensemen Nick Buckley (La Salle), Brendan McNicholas (Avon Grove), and Tyler Makar and defensive midfielders Austin Smith, who was monstrous with four ground balls and four caused turnovers, Davis Stoner, Will McNamara (Haverford School), and Liam Hare (Spring-Ford).

“What a game between two terrific teams,” said head coach Taylor Wray following the victory. “I don’t think it was a particularly clean game, but both teams were playing incredibly hard. [Robert Morris] is just so dangerous; if you turn it over, they are on the attack and if the ball goes on the ground, they are on the attack. I thought we did a good job of trying to limit their transition game, and I give a lot of credit to Coach [Mike] Horowitz for making a little adjustment to our plan in that area this week. The defense did a good job in the half field and Mike [Adler] held his ground in goal.”

Senior midfielders Kyle Cain (2g, 1a) and Hayes McGinley (2g) led the Hawks with multi-goal performances.

“On the flip side, our offense was patient, took great shots, and shot to good locations,” added Wray. “The growth that unit has made this season has been remarkable, and that is a credit to Coach [Dan] Keating and the buy-in he has from our offensive personnel. The offense did what it needed to do today. We didn’t want to get into a run-and-gun battle with Robert Morris, we wanted to do what we could to control the pace of play.”

Cain opened up the scoring with an unassisted strike at the 13:29 mark of first before RMU’s Jimmy Perkins scored his first of three on the day at the 5:14 mark to equalize. SJU freshman midfielder Evan Campbell put the Hawks up again on a feed from freshman attackman Shane Fable (3:22) but RMU mirrored with a Corson Kealey goal (2:19) as the first quarter ended even, 2-2.

Cain (8:37) and senior attackman Chris Blewitt (7:14) opened the second quarter with back-to-back unassisted scores to put the Hawks up by two, 4-2, but RMU answered with a four-goal, uncontested run to close the second (7:03, 5:15) and open the third (14:48, 14:10) en route to its first lead of the game, 6-4, early into the second half.

The Hawks responded with a four-goal run of their own to completely change the game’s momentum back in favor of the Crimson and Gray.

Redshirt freshman midfielder Nicholas Vernacchio (Upper Dublin) fired off an unassisted score early in the third (11:50) and McGinley put away the equalizer on a feed from Cain (4:43) as SJU’s starting midfield unit equalized the playing field, 6-6, entering the final 15:00.

Senior attackman Patrick O’Brien came off the bench to score off of Fable’s second helper of the afternoon to put the Hawks up by one, 7-6, with 7:44 remaining in the fourth.

RMU won the following possession, but a clean Adler save gave possession back to the Hawks, and exactly one minute after SJU successfully cleared, McGinley beat Colonial goalkeeper Alex Heger high to give the Crimson and Gray a two-goal advantage entering the final 5:28.

The Colonials inched back to within one on Perkins’ third of the day with 3:58 to go.

With the score set at 8-7 in favor of the Hawks, RMU would win the following face-off, but Adler made his 11th save of the game to preserve SJU’s one-goal advantage.

A few sequences later, after the Hawks were hit with a penalty that put the Colonials up a player for 30 seconds, RMU’s Matt Schmidt found room and rocketed what could have been the late-game equalizer, but Adler made his 12th save of the game and the Hawks cleared and killed the clock before the entire team stormed the field, victorious.

Robert Morris doubled up SJU on shots, 32-16, but 19 of those were on target, and 12 of those were stopped by Adler. The Colonials edged the Hawks in ground balls, 37-20, backed by a 24-7 combined second and third quarters, and earned a 13-6 advantage from the X; Saint Joseph’s freshman face-off specialist Billy Jardeleza went 6-of-18 from the dot with four ground balls.

Top-seeded Saint Joseph’s will face fourth-seeded Sacred Heart (7-7, 3-3 NEC) in the NEC semifinals this upcoming Thursday. Time of the opening face-off is to be determined.

“Once again, our seniors led the way for us, and I’m so happy for them to be able to play another game at home,” beamed Wray. “This is going to be an exciting week, and I know the environment on Thursday will be electric.”

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