PHILADELPHIA, PA. 3/15/2014 – The Saint Joseph’s Hawks men’s lacrosse team fell behind by three goals early, but adjustments on the defensive side of the field, and winning faceoffs resulted in a 7 – 4 win against the Richmond Spiders on Alumni and Family Day at Sweeney Field on Hawk Hill.
“I thought we were a little over-aggressive to start the game,” said Saint Joseph’s Coach Taylor Wray. “Our guys were chasing them around too much and got out of position. They capitalized on every one of those mistakes. I told our guys not to panic, buckle down, and get something going our way.”
Richmond took a 3 – 0 lead in the first quarter on goals by J.P. Forester (2 goals), and Jean-Luc Chetner. Saint Joe’s began their comeback on a goal by senior midfielder Johnny Simanski at the 5:24 mark. The goal seemed to settle the Hawks who held the Spiders to seven more shots to the end of the half.
Meanwhile, Saint Joseph’s began to build momentum by winning the faceoffs. Faceoff specialist freshman Mike Lanham won all four in the second period and both in the third to keep the ball in the Hawks sticks for the middle portion of the game. For the game Lanham won 12 of the 15. Three second period goals resulted, scores by freshman attack Michael Restive, freshman attack Ray Vandergrift, and junior midfielder Mike Dougherty gave SJU a 4 – 3 halftime lead.
The big thing was we began winning faceoffs,” Wray said. “Mike Lanham was fantastic. It’s a game of possessions and when you win them things go your way.”
Neither team could gain a distinct advantage in the third period. The key goal of the game for the Hawks came from Vandergrift with 3:22 remaining in the third period.
“That was a huge goal from a freshman who is really starting to come on,” Wray said about Vandergrift. “It was a great play by a great player.”
From that point it was up to the goal keepers. Saint Joseph’s junior keeper Dustin Keen 4 of his 7 saves in the fourth period. He faced 10 of 25 Richmond shots in the last period. One shot found the net, that was by Jackson Cabot at 7:49. However, SJU got 9 shots in the final period forcing Spiders goal keeper Benny Pugh to make 5 of his 17 saves in the stanza.
Simanski and junior attack Ryan McGee scored in the fourth to close out the scoring.
For the game SJU had a 40 – 25 advantage in shots. The Hawks picked up a 27 – 19 edge in ground balls. Richmond had 15 turnovers compared to 11 for Saint Joseph’s.
The Hawks have won 4 games in a row and improve to a 5 – 2 record,2 – 0 in the NEC. Coach Wray feels his team is progressing as they get ready to meet Michigan in Ann Arbor next Saturday.
“We are happy with the start of our year,” said Wray. “We’re getting better as we get more experience. I can say I’m pleased, but we can improve in many areas.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian