After Scoreless First Half, Bryant Stuns Drexel, 7-6
from press release
|Courtesy Bryant athletics|
SMITHFIELD, R.I. -- Led by four points from sophomore Alex Zomerfeld (Port Jefferson, N.Y.), the Bryant University men's lacrosse team overcame a scoreless first-half performance and a 5-0 halftime deficit with seven second-frame tallies, stunning a Drexel side receiving votes in the national polls for a 7-6 victory at home Saturday afternoon.
The Bulldogs (3-2) spent much of the first 30 minutes on their heels as the visiting Dragons (2-4) scored four times in the opening quarter and once more before the break while keeping Bryant off the scoreboard for a five-goal lead at the intermission.
Out of halftime, the teams battled in scoreless fashion for the first 12:27 of the third quarter before the hosts finally broke through what had, up to that point, been an unforgiving Drexel defense. Junior Peter McMahon (Wilton, Conn.) collected a pass from Zomerfeld and fired a shot that put the Black and Gold on the board with 2:33 to play in the third.
That score proved to be the spark Bryant needed, as senior Matt Larson (Cheshire, Conn.) netted an unassisted tally, his first of the season, 12 seconds later, and senior captain Max Weisenberg (Long Beach, N.Y.) followed with a man-up score with 1:27 left on the clock to cut Drexel's lead to 5-3 entering the final period.
"I think when Peter McMahon finally scored, there was a sign of relief, a thought of, 'OK, we can do this,'" said Bryant head coach Mike Pressler. "But they were only up, 5-0. You cut into a five-goal lead and make it a two- or three-goal game, that kind of deficit is nothing in our sport."
And while the Dragons regained a three-score lead early in the fourth for a 6-3 edge, the momentum was already too far in Bryant's favor, as the home side scored four unanswered goals to complete one of the most impressive comebacks in program history.
"I would say that was one of the most remarkable comebacks I've ever been involved in in 29 years of coaching," said Bryant head coach Mike Pressler. "To be down, 5-0, with three minutes to go in the third and come all the way back to win is pretty incredible and pretty exciting."
The Bulldogs fired 18 shots in the first half but put only seven of them on goal. Drexel scored on all four of its first-period shots on goal for the early 4-0 advantage after 15 minutes, and despite a stepped-up defensive effort in the second stanza, the Dragons broke through again with 50 seconds left in the first half for a five-goal lead at the break.
"We had all kinds of opportunities in the first half," said Pressler. "At halftime, all I said was to be patient. Get a couple of splits here and there, and it was going to be a one-goal game late, and that's exactly what happened.
"Our coaching staff and all of our players were terrific at halftime," he continued. "We were settled. There was no panic. We felt we were certainly right there with them, and that, more than anything else, was key to our demeanor coming out in the third quarter -- we knew we were still in the game."
One of the game's top storylines was the play of Zomerfeld out of the midfield, as the second-year Bulldog had a hand in the final three goals of the game, including scoring both the game-tying tally and the game winner just 63 seconds apart late in the fourth.
"[Bryant leading scorer] Colin Dunster caught Drexel's attention today, and Zomerfeld stepped up in his place, Zomerfeld and Max Weisenberg," said Pressler. "But Alex's play is no surprise to us. He is a very, very talented player, a multi-dimensional player, a guy who can shoot it and guy who can feed it, and we are very, very excited about him and for him today."
After assisting Weisenberg's second goal of the game with 8:11 to play in regulation to cut the visitors' lead to just one, 6-5, Zomerfeld found himself the beneficiary of an impressive feed as Weisenberg returned the favor minutes later. From the far sideline under heavy pressure, Weisenberg send a swiftly rolling pass into the center of the field for an oncoming Zomerfeld, who picked up the heads-up dish and fired a low shot from long range. The shot found its way past 6-foot-2 netminder Mark Manos with 6:28 remaining in the contest, tying the game at 6-6.
And with 5:25 showing, Zomerfeld capped off the impressive Bulldog comeback run. Senior attacker Travis Harrington (Vestal, N.Y.) fought off pressure behind the cage to get a pass out to the game's leading scorer, who sent another low shot barreling toward Manos. And while the Drexel goalie took some of the heat off it with the initial stop, the shot continued to roll in, crossing the line for Bryant's go-ahead goal that would also prove to be the game winner, giving the hosts their first lead of the game and the only one they would need for the 7-6 victory.
But it was a win that almost wasn't, if not for the standout play of Bulldog netminder Jameson Love (Darien, Conn.), as well. Love made 13 stops in the contest, none bigger than his final two.
With 2:21 to play in the game and a 7-6 Bulldog advantage, McMahon found himself serving a one-minute slashing penalty. With an extra player in tow, the Dragons sped up the field and took their time looking for the right shot, finding it when Kevin Stockel took a pass out in front with an open shooting lane. Stockel's shot rocketed in on the Bryant net but Love was there for the monster save, maintaining his side's one-goal advantage in the waning minutes.
But Drexel would get yet another opportunity to even the score with just 12 seconds to play after a Bryant turnover with a stalling warning in effect. The Dragons charged into the zone, and following a timeout, Kyle Bergman, who had scored the only goal of the second period, ripped the final shot of the game. The shot came in low, but Love was ready, making the save and collecting the ground ball as the clock ran out of time to complete the stunning come-from-behind victory.
The Bulldogs' also got the offensive jumpstart they've grown accustomed to from faceoff specialist Kevin Massa (Huntington, N.Y.) in the second half after being without it for much of the first two quarters, as the rookie went 8-of-10 from the X after the break, including a perfect 4-for-4 mark in the third frame. Massa went just 3-for-7 in the opening 30 minutes and would finish 11-of-17 on the day after the strong second-half performance.
"At the end of the day, the key was that we held them to one goal in the second half, and Kevin Massa was spectacular in helping us do that," said Pressler. "We won some faceoffs, we tightened up defensively, and Jameson made the saves we needed him to make, so those were the key things to the second-half comeback."
Massa's six ground balls tied a game high, as the Bulldogs won that battle as a team, 32-26. Bryant ended the game outshooting Drexel, 37-34, while both sides went 1-for-5 on extra-man opportunities. Rookie starting defenseman Connor Dent (Havertown, Pa.) headlined the home side's 10 caused turnovers with a team-best three, while Frank Tufano's four were a contest high.