Bulldogs claim first NEC Tournament Championship with 12-6 win Sunday

Bulldogs claim first NEC Tournament Championship with 12-6 win Sunday



MOON TOWNSHIP, Pa. – The first 10 minutes proved to be the difference maker in the 2012 Northeast Conference Tournament Championship Game, as the second-seeded Bryant University men's lacrosse team clinched its first Division I title with a 12-6 win over fourth-seeded Mount St. Mary's Sunday at Joe Walton Stadium.

Tournament MVP Jameson Love (Darien, Conn.) made five saves on the day and recorded 13 for the 2012 NEC Tournament. All-Tournament selection Colin Dunster (Cos Cob, Conn.) paced the championship game with four goals and had seven points in the two-game weekend, while fellow all-tournament team pick Kevin Massa (Huntington, N.Y.) went 16-of-22 from the faceoff X in Sunday's victory. With the victory, the Bulldogs (14-4) up their program-record win mark to 14 and claim the school's first-ever Northeast Conference Tournament Championship.

"It's an incredible feeling," said head coach Mike Pressler. "In just four years of Division I and two years in this new league, for us to go on the road and win this conference championship is just a remarkable tribute to our six seniors. I couldn't be happier for them and our entire team."

Bryant's final all-tournament team selection, sophomore Dan Sipperly (Greenwich, N.Y.) scored a first-quarter hat trick as the Bulldogs opened Sunday's NEC Championship Game on a six-goal run through the opening 10 minutes and took a 7-1 advantage into the second frame.

Senior midfielder Max Weisenberg (Long Beach, N.Y.) got the streak started at the 12:04 mark, taking the ball through the middle and beating his defender to the cage for an unassisted goal and 1-0 Bulldog edge.

After a Bulldog win on the ensuing faceoff, senior Matt Larson (Cheshire, Conn.) dished out a quick pass to Sipperly for a one timer just over four minutes into the contest. Sipperly made it back-to-back tallies less than six minutes later, this time taking a pass from linemate Peter McMahon (Wilton, Conn.) from behind the cage to find space beyond Mount St. Mary's goalie Chris Klaiber for a 3-0 edge.

"I said to Dan before the game, 'let the game come to you, and you could be the X-factor,'" said Pressler. "And he was. Dan got the ball, and he canned his shots."

Then, 45 seconds later, Dunster, the team's leading scorer, tucked a laser of a shot just inside the far post for his first unassisted score, giving the Bulldogs a four-goal cushion.

And on the following faceoff, when Mount faceoff specialist Jon Marsalese was flagged for an illegal touch and sent to the box for a locked-in one-minute penalty, the Bulldogs would complete the run, getting a pair of man-up goals 20 seconds apart – first from Weisenberg and later from Dunster – to secure a 6-0 advantage.

The Mount would finally break through at the 2:53 mark on a shot from NEC Second Teamer Brett Schmidt, but Bryant got it right back with eight ticks to go as Sipperly completed his first-frame hat trick on a rebound shot to close out the frame with a 7-1 lead.

"What an incredible start. I was very surprised we were able to jump out ahead like that," said Pressler. "It all started with Kevin Massa at the faceoff, and our attack responded. That was the key. They shot so much better than they did Friday night against Quinnipiac."

Senior attack Travis Harrington (Vestal, N.Y.) added to the Bulldogs' lead 90 seconds into the second session, netting an unassisted goal, and while the Mount would keep Bryant off the board for the next 10 minutes, Dunster would break through with a wind-up shot from the right side with 3:39 left before the halftime break for the second of three second-quarter unassisted tallies. Sophomore middie Bo Redpath (Norwich, Vt.) recorded the third with 73 seconds to play to take the Black and Gold into halftime with a 10-1 advantage.

"We felt we had to get after them the first five minutes of the third," said Pressler. "We slowed the offense, and made them take longer possessions when we were on defense. When you're up nine goals, it becomes a clock game."

Out of the break, though, with a new goalie between the pipes for Mount St. Mary's, the Bulldogs couldn't find the space to deposit the ball until the 5:13 mark, when McMahon netted a top-shelf goal, his first score of the game.

But Bryant's 11th goal of the outing didn't come until after the Mount scored two goals of its own, as Christian Kellett opened second-half scoring in the second minute and Andrew Scalley netted an unaided goal with 6:09 to play in the third.

Mount St. Mary's Bryant Schmidt got on the board with two minutes to play in the frame, and Bulldog goalie Jameson Love (Darien, Conn.) would come up with two big saves in the final 30 seconds to keep the margin 11-4 in Bryant's favor entering the final 15 minutes of play.

"They cut into it, 10-3, with the first two goals of the half, so Peter McMahon's goal to make it 11-3 was huge for us," said Pressler. "But the way we were playing at both ends, we just felt that they couldn't come back. We were playing more deliberate on offense and more patient in the zone, and we were winning faceoffs. And with Kevin Massa dominating the faceoff X, it's going to be tough to string together goals against us."

But the Mountaineers would make it interesting in the fourth, as Scalley got back in the scoring column at the 12:41 mark to make it 11-5 and put much of the momentum in the Mount St. Mary's corner.

Dunster restored the seven-goal margin with 11 to go, pushing his defender back to get just enough room to rip off a high shot that found netting, but the Mountaineers would get the next one with 5:38 to play.

But it would be the last goal of the title bout, and the Bulldogs stood strong through the final minutes for the 12-6 final margin and first NEC Tournament Championship title.

"At the end of the day, the score doesn't matter," said Pressler. "Today, it was about winning this. It was about winning it in any way, shape or form."