PHILADELPHIA - Senior midfielder Ray Vandegrift scored the game-winner with 2:52 to play in overtime to lead the Saint Joseph's men's lacrosse team to a 6-5 victory over Monmouth on Friday evening on a snow-dusted Sweeney Field. With their third consecutive victory, the home Hawks improve to 3-3 while the visiting Hawks fall to 3-3.
Senior face-off specialist Danny Manning went a career-high 13-of-15 from the X while senior goalkeeper T.J. Jones made 14 saves, including nine in the second half of regulation. Junior attackman Jason Kelly registered two goals and an assist to factor into three of SJU's first three scoring plays over the first three quarters.
"That was a really exciting game," said head coach Taylor Wray following the win. "I thought both defenses and both goalkeepers played very well. For our guys to gut out the win in overtime, for Ray Vandegrift a senior, to make that play for us at the end was outstanding. Danny Manning was exceptional at the face-off. It really was an unbelievable effort by him, and our wings really helped us out when he didn't win it clean. That's a really good Monmouth team. They are really tough, scrappy team, and I thought their defense was terrific tonday. I'm pleased that we came out on top with the victory."
Tied 4-4 entering the fourth quarter, Monmouth's Eric Berger scored to put the visiting Hawks up by one, 5-4, with 13:30 to play in regulation.
However, Manning would win the ensuing face-off and junior defenseman Austin Smith scooped up his seventh ground ball of the game and found junior attackman Chris Blewitt, who put away the equalizer just 10 seconds later.
Neither team would find the back of the net, setting up the overtime frame and Vandegrift's late heroics. Manning won his 13th face-off opportunity of the day and, under a minute out of a timeout, the home Hawks came away with the win on Vandegrift's 24th career goal.
Monmouth had jumped out to a 2-0 advantage before Kelly, assisted by Blewitt, found the back of the net with 17 seconds remaining in the first quarter to pull the home Hawks to within one after the first 15:00.
Junior midfielder Kevin Reidinger tied it up, assisted by Kelly, at the 8:28 mark of the second, but Monmouth's Griffin Figel put one away with 11 ticks on the scoreboard to put the visiting Hawks up by one at the half, 3-2.
Kelly scored (12:54) and assisted on Reidinger's EMO goal (10:22) that would give Saint Joseph's its first lead of the game, 4-3, but Monmouth put away an unassisted score with 3:45 remaining in the third to even things up heading into the final 15:00.
For the game, Monmouth held a 31-28 edge in shots, but Saint Joseph's dominated the ground ball category with a 39-22 advantage, which included winning 69.4 percent (25-of-36) of all ground balls in the second and third quarters combined.
"I thought the stat of the game that really kept us in it, because we turned the ball over a bunch, was the ground ball stat," added Wray.
Manning was absolutely dominant at the circle, winning 11 in a row over the first, second, and third quarters en route to his 86.7-percent day, a new career high for the senior.
On the defensive end, Smith matched his career-high with seven ground balls and added a pair of caused turnovers while, in his first collegiate start, senior defenseman Connor Kubikowski added five gound balls and two caused turnovers. Manning, Reidinger, and Vandegrift chipped in four ground balls apiece.
Jones (3-3) kept his opposition to five goals for the third consecutive game, making 14 stops in the full 61:08.
The Hawks hit the road for a three-game stretch, beginning at city-rival Drexel this Sunday, March 12. Opening face-off at Vidas Field is set for 1:00 p.m.
GAME NOTES: Saint Joseph's improves to 4-0 all-time against Monmouth... The Hawks are now 3-0 against teams outside of the Top 20 this year... Senior goalkeeper T.J. Jones broke into the top five for all-time career saves at SJU and now sits at 407... Senior Ray Vandegrift scored the fifth game-winner of his career while his four ground balls is a new single-game career high.