PHILADELPHIA – Sophomore face-off specialist Billy Jardeleza won 71 percent of his battles from the X and sophomore midfielder Evan Campbell broke through with four goals to lead the Saint Joseph's men's lacrosse squad to a 15-11 win over NJIT on Sweeney Field on Saturday afternoon. With the victory, the Hawks close the non-conference schedule at .500 (4-4) while the Highlanders fall to 1-7.
"It's great," said head coach Taylor Wray on finishing the non-conference schedule with a win. "Would we like to be better than 4-4? Absolutely. But we are where we are, and I'm happy to be .500 heading into the conference season."
Jardeleza got the nod at the X and made the most of his opportunity, going 20-of-28 with a game-high 14 ground balls to dominate the possession game for the Crimson and Gray.
"I wanted to do whatever I could to help my team win," said Jardeleza. "Some of those final face-offs helped us close out the game. This win gives us good momentum heading into conference play. We still have a lot of things to clean up, but getting this win really helps our confidence."
"I'm really excited for Billy," added Wray of his sophomore face-off specialist who stepped up in place of the injured Zach Cole. "When we have needed someone to step up, Billy has done that all year. I'm really happy for him today."
Campbell finished the day with a game-high five points, while freshman attackman Ryan Doran added a hat trick (3g, 1a) and freshman midfielders Zach Mantei (2g, 1a) and Andrew Chilson (2g, 1a) contributed three points apiece.
"Evan had a great job with four goals on five shots and an assist," added Wray. "He stepped up when we needed him to."
Neither team broke through for more than a one-goal lead until Campbell netted the 5-5 equalizer (2Q, 11:24) and scored on a feed from sophomore midfielder Nick Vernacchio under a minute later (2Q, 10:36) to put the Hawks up by one. Chilson then hit the back of the net at the 9:24 mark of the second quarter to give the Hawks their first two-goal lead of the day, 7-5.
NJIT battled back with a pair of goals before the halftime break, but Saint Joseph's was right there to respond each time (Campbell at 4:11 and junior defenseman Liam Hare with 10 ticks left) to keep its two-goal lead, 9-7, at the half.
The Hawks scored four of the third quarter's five goals to extend their lead to five, 13-8, entering the final 15:00.
NJIT scored three consecutive goals in the fourth (11:44, 8:54, 2:28) to inch to within two, 13-11, but Campbell scored his fourth of the day with 1:25 to play and Mantei wrapped up the scoring on an open net (:40) for the 15-11 final.
For the game, Saint Joseph's held a 41-36 edge in shots and a 38-27 advantage in ground balls; Jardeleza's 14 ground balls from the X were significant while senior defenseman Thomas Tarleton (5gb, 3ct) and Hare (3gb, 4ct) combined for eight ground balls and seven caused turnovers on the day.
Sophomore goalkeeper Mike Adler (4-4) picked up his 14th career victory in net, making 11 saves vs. 11 goals allowed in the full 60:00.
Saint Joseph's opens Northeast Conference action at Bryant next Saturday, March 23. Opening face-off in Smithfield, R.I. is set for noon.
"Every team in this league is good," closed Wray. "But it's always going to be a battle with Bryant. It'll be a typical St. Joe's/Bryant game... it'll be physical and we'll have to grind it out on both ends of the field."