For Immediate Release
May 29, 2011
Courtesy of the Adelphi Sports Information Department
Baltimore, Md. — The Adelphi University men's lacrosse team trailed #2 ranked Mercyhurst, 9-8 when Kieran Riegel found himself one-on-one with the Mercyhurst keeper with five seconds left in the NCAA Division II National Championship game at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Maryland on Sunday.
Zach Nash would get just enough of the ball to make the save, giving the Lakers a 9-8 win and ending Adelphi's season as National Runner-up with a record of 16-3 overall.
Joe Vitale (pictured) led the offense for Adelphi with five points, on three goals and two assists, while both Danny Blau (two goals) and Riegel (two goals) chipped in two points. Tommy Susko scored the Panthers other goal.
Eric Janssen made 13 stops in net for the Panthers, including five in the final quarter to keep the Panthers in the game. Jesse Colamussi was dominant on the face-off, winning 15 of his 19 face-off attempts, and both Colamussi and Dan Gill picked up four ground balls.
The Panthers opened the contest quickly, as Blau took a Ken Fundus pass and just slipped past his defender, beating Mercyhurst goalkeeper Nash far side to give Adelphi a 1-0 edge just 22 seconds into play. The lead would be short lived, however, as the Lakers responded 1:38 later, when Ian Wild darted left to right and beat Janssen high, knotting the contest at one.
Following the Mercyhurst goal, the Lakers controlled the action, holding the ball for over three minutes in the Panther end before Gill intercepted a lazy Lakers pass and sent Adelphi on the counter attack. The Panthers moved the ball around and got it to Vitale on the top left of the restraining line, where he dodged to his right, beat his man and then notched his first goal of the game, pushing Adelphi ahead, 2-1.
The Lakers responded with another goal of their own at the 4:21 mark of the first quarter, when Wild attacked and turned the corner on the Adelphi defense and found the back of the net, giving the game it's second tie.
This time the Panthers were quick to respond, scoring just 51 seconds later when Riegel tallied his first goal of the game, scoring from 15 yards out off a Vitale assist.
Mercyhurst would tie the game for the third time at the 2:09 mark, taking advantage of an Adelphi miscue that gave the Lakers a man-up opportunity. Kyle Kallay scored from eight yards out to tie the game at three.
Vitale would find the net for the second time on the afternoon at the 12:25 mark of the quarter with a rifle from about 15 yards out through traffic, giving Adelphi it's fourth lead of the game, 4-3.
The game saw it's fourth tie at the 6:22 mark, as Mercyhurst took advantage of their fourth man-up opportunity, which was the result of an Adelphi unnecessary roughness penalty. Trevor Rice tied the game at four when he found himself one-on-one with Janssen, just six yards from the goal on the lower right side.
Adelphi held the Laker offense scoreless for over two minutes, but Mercyhurst took their first lead of the day with just two seconds left in the first-half, when Kevin Coholan slipped one past Janssen to give the Lakers a 5-4 lead at the half.
When asked about the Lakers goal before the half Adelphi head coach Gordon Purdie commented, "It's certainly a momentum changer, but we were heading into the locker room already and it also brought us a lot of focus."
The Lakers opened the second half scoring as Wild scored his third goal of the game, moving from behind the goal, getting a step on his defender and then slotting the ball high to push the Mercyhurst advantage to 6-4.
Kallay scored his second goal of the game on another man-up opportunity, firing a bullet from 12 yards out to give the Lakers a 7-4 lead with 10:08 left in quarter number three.
Adelphi finally stemmed the Lakers momentum, and took advantage of their third extra man opportunity to pull within two as Riegel scored his second of the game off another Vitale assist. After trading offensive possessions, the Lakers Brian Scheetz scored his first of the game giving Mercyhurst it's second three goal lead of the game, 8-5, with 4:52 left in the third.
The Panthers answered at the 3:57 mark of the third quarter, with their second man-up opportunity goal. Vitale pulled Adelphi back to within two goals, 8-6 after he beat Nash for his third goal of the game. The Lakers answered at the 2:15 mark as Wild scored his fourth goal of the afternoon, finding the back of the Panther net with a jump shot, to put Adelphi in a 9-6 hole.
Adelphi would not go away quietly, cutting the margin to two again with 1:36 on the clock as Susko scored his lone goal. Vitale drove left and was stuffed by Nash, but Susko cleaned up and found the back of the Lakers net, to make it a 9-7 game heading into the fourth quarter of action.
Mercyhurst controlled the play for the first eight minutes of the fourth quarter, as Adelphi turned it over on a feed in their only offensive set. However, the Adelphi offense finally got the ball back with just over seven minutes on the clock and Blau went one-on-one with his defender from behind the cage and got a step and then tossed an over the shoulder shot past Nash to pull the Panthers within one, 9-8 for the first time since early in the third quarter.
The Lakers controlled the action in the final minutes of play, but Adelphi got the ball back with 16 seconds left to play and Kevin Kennedy cleared the ball to Fundus, who found a streaking Riegel from the box.
Riegel found himself one-on-one with Nash with less then five seconds left and sent a bouncer low, Nash dropped to his knees and just got enough to keep it out of the net, securing Mercyhurst's first-ever national title in the sport.
"I truly think we could have had a different outcome had Kieran's shot gone in, but I'm very proud of the way our players played throughout the game and the way they prepared," Purdie said. "I'm disappointed in the result but Mercyhurst is a team that deserves respect."