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Clarkson, SLU men’s lacrosse teams drop playoff openers

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ROCHESTER - After scoring three times in the third quarter to pull within striking distance of seventh-ranked RIT, the Clarkson University men’s lacrosse team’s offense was held silent as the opponents ran off five straight goals to eliminate the Golden Knights from the Liberty League playoffs, 12-4, Friday afternoon at RIT Field.

The Golden Knights concluded their season with a record of 9-6 overall, while RIT, the regular-season champion, improves to 13-2 and advances to the conference championship game.

As it happened in the first meeting between the two teams, the Tigers jumped out in front in the first quarter while shutting out the Golden Knights. RIT held a 2-0 advantage after the first 15 minutes and held a 12-7 edge in shots and a 9-3 lead in shots on goal.

Though the Knights were held without a score, the team trailed by just two and its defense was making things difficult for the Tigers on the offensive end.

Clarkson finally got on the scoreboard late in the second period when freshmen Matt Gold (Pittsford, NY) and Corey Herrington (Camillus, NY) teamed up with 2:12 remaining. Unfortunately, the Tigers had expanded their lead to 6-1 with a steady offense that was producing a goal once every four minutes. However, the third period was more on Clarkson’s side as the Knights made a solid run to get back into the game. Gold and Herrington repeated with a man-up goal early in the frame and senior midfielder Eric Gollands (Chelmsford, MA) scored a pair of goals just 57 seconds apart to make the score 7-4.

The three-goal differential would be as close as Clarkson would get, though, as RIT scored five times in less than three minutes midway through the fourth quarter, ending any hope of a Knight come-from-behind victory.

Clarkson goaltender Ryan Cole (Orchard Park, NY) made 16 saves in just over 53 minutes of action before being relieved by Pat Briggs (Baldwinsville, NY), who wasn’t called upon to make a save in the final seven minutes. Gollands and Gold each had two goals, while Herrington added two assists to his team-leading total.

For RIT, Brendan MacDonald had three goals and an assist and the Liberty League Player of the Year Tyler Russell added three goals. Kyle Aquin also had two goals and an assist.

Defensively, Brian Freeland (East Berlin, CT) led Clarkson with four groundballs, and Matt Davidson (Hilton, NY) and Dylan Caldiero (Buffalo, NY) each had three groundballs. PJ Hart led RIT with five groundball pickups.

The Tigers led in all of the team categories, holding an edge in shots (36-30), shots on goal (28-20), groundballs (40-28) and faceoffs (15-5).

SAINTS FALL TO UNION

The nationally-ranked St. Lawrence University men’s lacrosse team saw a five-goal lead slip away on Friday in the 2012 Liberty League Tournament semifinals, as No. 11 Union College blanked the Saints in the second half and stormed back with a six-goal unanswered run for a 10-9 win in Schenectady.

The win moves the Dutchmen (11-3) into the Liberty League title game with RIT, which defeated Clarkson 12-4 on Friday. Meanwhile, the loss drops St. Lawrence to 12-3.

“As tough as the second half was, and I give a ton of credit for Union for battling for 60:00 minutes, it won’t take away from our feeling of overall satisfaction on a great year,” said St. Lawrence head coach Mike Mahoney. “We had great senior leadership all season and guys that bought into things right from the start.”

Seniors Drake Paul and Matt Pope and junior Tucker Garfield each had a pair of goals for St. Lawrence, while Ethan Meyer and Ted McKenna led Union with three goals apiece. Union closed with a 36-31 edge in shots and a 34-33 lead in ground balls. St. Lawrence was a perfect 14-of-14 on clears and won 12-of-22 face-offs, but was 0-for-3 on man-up tries to Union’s 1-for-6 mark.

Defensively, Jake Wynn led the Scarlet and Brown with three caused turnovers and eight ground balls, while senior co-captain Craig Leach added two of each.

St. Lawrence came out of the gate rolling, building a 5-2 lead after one quarter. Garfield, Paul and Pope each scored in a span of 3:30 to make it 3-0, while co-captain Peter Carpenter and sophomore Pierson Fowler both answered Union goals to keep the three-goal lead intact.

Nolan Connors struck first in the second quarter for the Dutchmen to make it 5-3, but the Saints rattled off three straight tallies for an 8-3 advantage. The same trio of Garfield, Paul and Pope did the damage again, while junior Cody Danforth made it 9-4 with 5:15 remaining before halftime.

However, Danforth’s third goal of the season would be all of the offense for the Saints, as Union began to turn the tide with two goals before intermission to keep the game manageable at 9-6. A 2-0 third quarter behind tallies from Meyer and Adam Rosenthal made it 9-8 St. Lawrence and set up a dramatic fourth.

St. Lawrence had three possessions in the fourth quarter but was done in by a pair of turnovers and a penalty, which allowed Union to knot the score at 9-9. Meyer’s 15th goal of the season came with a mere 4:37 on junior goaltender Jack Nuland.

Both teams had a possession at 9-9, but Matt Livingston caused a turnover for Union in the defensive end. His ground ball then allowed the Dutchmen to clear the field and score with 2:15 remaining in regulation, as Rob Santangelo netted his 22nd of the year for a 10-9 Union lead, its first of the game.

Though Union won the ensuing face-off, Wynn gave the Saints a chance by causing a turnover and getting the ball up the field. Though St. Lawrence got a pair of shots off in the final seconds, including one on goal by senior co-captain Kyle Jacobsen, Union goalie Sean Aaron made the key save as the clock ran out giving the home team a dramatic, come-from-behind 10-9 win.

Nuland finished with three saves in the second half, while fellow junior Jeff Goeke made three stops in the first half. Aaron, the Liberty League’s Defensive Player of the Year, closed with seven saves despite a tough first half while back-up Stefan Basile made two stops in relief.

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