PHILADELPHIA – Redshirt freshman midfielder Nicholas Vernacchio's first collegiate goal came with 26 seconds left in regulation to break a 9-9 tie and to lead the Saint Joseph's men's lacrosse squad (2-3) to a 10-9 win over Drexel (2-4) on Tuesday evening on Sweeney Field. The victory marks the Hawks' first over the Dragons since 2000 and just the second in the 26-game series.
Senior midfielder Kyle Cain led the Hawks on the offensive end with three goals and an assist while seven additional Hawks tallied one goal apiece. Senior defenseman Nick Buckley anchored the back line and freshman face-off specialist Tyler Green made an impact in the second half while redshirt freshman goalkeeper Mike Adler made 11 saves, including seven in the first half, in the full 60:00.
"What a great victory today against an incredibly tough opponent," said head coach Taylor Wray. "We had some pretty incredible plays from all sorts of different guys all over the field. Mike [Adler] in net and Nick [Buckley], who did a great job on [Matthew] Varian, an exceptional attackman. We had a freshman come in and do a great job on the face-off in the second half, and a game-winner by a redshirt freshman . . . I couldn't be happier for our team."
Trailing 6-3 coming out of the halftime break after Drexel had scored three in a row to close the second quarter (7:27, 5:25, 2:50), the Hawks ripped off five goals and blanked the Dragon offense in the third quarter to take an 8-6 edge into the fourth.
Taking advantage of a Drexel penalty that carried over into the start of the third, graduate student attackman Mike Rastivo fired off an EMO goal from senior midfielder Hayes McGinley (14:45), freshman midfielder Austin Strazzulla netted his first collegiate goal under a 30-second stall warning (11:02), and senior midfielder Jason Kelly scored on an EMO goal from freshman attackman Thomas Halm (8:04) before Cain hit the back of the net twice unassisted (4:29, 3:44) to close out the third.
Drexel inched back with a score at the 11:47 mark, but Cain put away his third unassisted goal of the game at the 7:50 mark to keep the Hawks up by two.
The Dragons scored twice within 33 seconds (7:50, 6:13) to equalize the playing field, 9-9, entering the final 6:13 of regulation.
Adler stepped up big for the Hawks defensively after SJU was hit with a 1:00 penalty for slashing with 3:40 to play. Drexel's Robert Frazee, who had scored the Dragons' fourth-quarter opener, fired off a shot on net, but Adler came up with his 11th save of the day to keep the score even.
Off of that save, the Hawks cleared the ball and took a timeout with 1:17 remaining on the scoreboard. SJU was hit with a 30-second shot clock with 50 ticks to play, but from behind the net, Cain fed Vernacchio up top, and the redshirt freshman hit the back of the net with six seconds left before the shot clock would have expired.
The Dragons owned possession with 4.5 seconds left in regulation and up a man after an SJU penalty, but Reid Bowering's shot went wide left of the goal as time expired.
For the game, Drexel held a slight 35-34 edge in shots, but the Hawks outshot the Dragons, 9-5, in the third en route to their five-goal quarter. Each team recorded 25 ground balls apiece while SJU turned the ball over just eight times, compared to Drexel's 12. The Dragons won 14 of the game's 21 face-off possessions while the Hawks went 2-of-3 in EMOs compared to Drexel's 1-of-5 showing.
Green came in for the final 14 of SJU's 21 total face-off opportunities and went 5-of-14 against a dominant Jimmeh Koita. Senior long stick midfielder Austin Smith went for four ground balls and SJU's first goal of the game while senior midfielder Davis Stoner was good for three ground balls, three caused turnovers, and a goal in the victory.
Saint Joseph's remains home to host NJIT (0-8) this Friday, March 16. Opening face-off is set for 7:00 p.m. on Sweeney Field.
Photos (Sideline Photos, LLC) from today's game will be made available at PhotoShelter.com.
GAME NOTES: With the win, SJU improves to 2-24 all-time against Drexel with its first win over the Dragons since April 1, 2000... Redshirt freshman midfielder Nicholas Vernacchio scored his first collegiate goal... Freshman midfielder Austin Strazzulla scored his first collegiate goal... Graduate student attackman Will McNamara recorded his first SJU points, including his first goal as a Hawk... With one goal, graduate student attackman Mike Rastivo now has 112 goals for his career, which puts him one shy of tying for second all-time, with Chris McIsaac '97, in career goals on Hawk Hill... With five shots, Rastivo now has 296 shots for his career, which moves him into fourth all-time in career shots on Hawk Hill... With one assist, senior attackman Chris Blewitt now has 52 assists for his career, which moves him into a tie for ninth all-time, with Alex Lopes '09, in career assists on Hawk Hill... That point also gives Blewitt 128 career points, which keeps him in 10th all-time in career points on Hawk Hill.