EMMITSBURG, Md. - Sophomore goalkeeper Mike Adler stood on his head to make 13 saves on the day, but the Saint Joseph's men's lacrosse squad ultimately fell to Mount St. Mary's, 7-6, at Waldron Family Stadium on Saturday afternoon. After dropping what was a must-win game for Northeast Conference postseason consideration, the Hawks close their season at 7-7 overall and 3-3 in regular-season conference play.
"This was a tough way for us to go out because I thought we played the game almost to the script," said head coach Taylor Wray following the game. "I am proud of the way we played, proud of the way we fought. We just needed to finish a few more plays. The defense executed the game plan. Mike [Adler] anchored that group once again. He made some spectacular plays both in and outside the goal. We rode them hard and caused some turnovers in the middle of the field, but we weren't able to get our transition game going and put some of those opportunities in the back of the net."
Sophomore midfielder Nick Vernacchio kicked off the scoring on a feed from Ryan Doran early in the first quarter (12:25), but Mount St. Mary's responded with three straight goals to close the first (6:42, 4:56, 3:41) for a 3-1 advantage after the first 15:00.
However, momentum shifted in favor of the Hawks in the second quarter, as sophomore attackman Shane Fable scored the first of his team-leading two goals on the day (13:22) and sophomore midfielder Austin Strazzulla followed up (4:55), both unassisted, before sophomore midfielder Teo Domic converted on an EMO score (1:40) on a feed from sophomore attackman Nate Patterson to complete a 3-0, second-quarter shutout for the Hawks; Adler made three stops during that span as the Hawks took a 6-5 edge into the halftime break.
The Mount came out with the first three goals of the third quarter, all assisted on by Brendan McCarthy, who finished with helpers on four of MSM's seven goals for the afternoon, to go back ahead, 6-4, entering the final 4:04 of the third.
Sophomore short stick defensive midfielder Jack Anderson put away an unassisted score just 12 seconds later to keep SJU to within one goal, 6-5, entering the final quarter; Adler made five saves vs. three goals allowed in that third frame.
MSM's Luke Frankeny scored his second of the game just 28 seconds into the fourth, but Patterson found Fable to once more close the Hawks' deficit to one, 7-6, entering the final 9:08 of regulation.
The Hawks continued to fire off shots, but MSM goalkeeper Dylan Furnback picked up six of his 20 total saves for the game in those final nine minutes to shut down the offensive efforts of the Crimson and Gray; sophomore attackman Matt Tufano (5:49), Doran (5:17), and Anderson (3:20) contested Furnback with looks on net outside of the final two minutes.
Strazzulla rocketed off an attempt with 1:51 to go, and after the ball came back out into play, MSM earned possession. However, Tufano forced the Mount's A'Santi Blackshear to turn the ball over on the clear attempt, and possession came back to the Hawks with 1:40 to play.
Strazzulla took another shot that was saved by Furnback at the 1:20 mark, but after the Mountaineers cleared successfully, they turned the ball over with 56 seconds to go.
Coming out of their own timeout with 38 seconds to play in their offensive third of the field, the Hawks got the ball to Fable, but SJU's final attempt at the equalizer would be stopped on Furnback's 20th save of the day.
"We had our opportunities to make plays in the fourth quarter, and we failed to put them away," added Wray.
For the game, Saint Joseph's outshot the Mount, 42-34, while the Mountaineers earned a 30-27 edge in ground balls. The Hawks were hurt by 12 first-half turnovers - six in each quarter - and converted just 1-of-6 opportunities in man-up situations, including an 0-3 fourth quarter.
Freshman face-off specialist Zach Cole held his own at the X, going 9-for-17 with seven ground balls.
Adler finished his 13-save day with four ground balls and two caused turnovers.
"It's a tough pill to swallow, especially for our three seniors," closed Wray. "They have done a terrific job in leading our team all year and setting an example for us. I feel for those three more than anything."