PHILADELPHIA – The Saint Joseph's men's lacrosse squad used an uncontested, five-goal run to close the first half and open the second to take home an 8-6 win over Monmouth on Saturday afternoon on Sweeney Field. The win snaps a two-game losing skid for the Hawks, who improve to 3-2 overall, while the visiting Hawks fall to 1-3.
Saint Joseph's remains undefeated against Monmouth, with an updated series record of 6-0 over the last six years.
Sophomore midfielder Nick Vernacchio led SJU's offensive game with four points (2g, 2a) while freshman midfielder Zach Mantei, back in the starting line-up for the first time since the season opener, went for three points (2g, 1a).
"I'm incredibly happy to have escaped with a win today," said eighth-year head coach Taylor Wray following the game. "Our team is beat up right now, and hopefully we can get some guys healthy and back in the line-up. But I'm really proud of the healthy bodies that were out there today, how hard they played and the energy they brought. Coming off of a win when you don't play great is better than being on the other side of it. I'm really pleased with our guys and excited to be above .500 again."
Mantei opened up the scoring on a feed from Vernacchio at the 11:56 mark of the first quarter, but Monmouth responded with a pair of unassisted goals from Brock Anderson (10:20) and Zach Clemente (5:25) to take a 2-1 edge after the first 15:00.
Mantei struck again with the equalizer to open the second quarter (12:59), but Monmouth's Casey Kimmel netted the go-ahead goal just 48 seconds later to put the visiting Hawks back on top, 3-2, at the 12:11 mark.
The next goal would be a big one for the Crimson and Gray as senior midfielder Thomas LaRose equalized for SJU's final time of the game; from there, the Hawks would score five straight to take a lead they would not relinquish.
It was also LaRose's first career goal.
"It was a big one for our team, and it was a long time coming," said LaRose, who scooped up a saved shot that had come back into play. "I was just in the right place at the right time and dumped it in."
Vernacchio scored perhaps the most significant goal of the game, with one tick left on the scoreboard before the halftime break, to give the Hawks a 4-3 advantage after the first 30:00.
The Hawks came back out and scored four straight over the opening 3:51 of the third quarter.
"Nick's goal was huge, and I liked the way we came out at halftime," added Wray. "We got a couple in transition, which we're going to need to do. That was the difference, that third-quarter burst."
Sophomore attackman Matt Tufano began the scoring burst (14:31) before Vernacchio scored (13:33) on a feed from Mantei and then fed freshman attackman Ryan Doran, who went behind-the-back for a stylish EMO score. Sophomore attackman Nate Patterson closed the run (11:09) on a feed from Tufano.
Monmouth didn't go quietly, scoring the final three goals of the third quarter to close its deficit to two, 8-6, entering the final 15:00.
Despite a 14-shot fourth quarter, Monmouth couldn't find the back of the net, backed by sophomore goalkeeper Mike Adler's six saves in the final 15:00.
For the game, Saint Joseph's held a 34-29 edge in shots, propelled by a 13-4 second quarter, while Monmouth earned the ground ball title, 37-35. Junior defenseman Tyler Makar (5gb, 2ct) and freshman long stick midfielder Matt Popeck (3g, 4ct) had a day on the defensive end.
Also of note from the X, sophomore face-off specialist Billy Jardeleza came in to go 6-of-7 with three ground balls to help SJU ensure possession late in the game. He won six straight, and on the seventh, he forced Monmouth's FOGO to turn the ball over immediately.
Adler (3-2) made 10 saves in the full 60:00 for his third win of the season and 13th of his career.
Saint Joseph's returns to action next weekend at the Philly 4 Lacrosse Classic. The Hawks will face Drexel, at Villanova, on Friday, March 8; face-off is slated for 5:00 p.m. They'll then face Penn, at Drexel, on Sunday, March 10 with a 2:30 p.m. start.