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Bulldogs, Bears clash for 2014 Ocean State Cup title

Photo by Tom O'Brien
Photo by Tom O'Brien

SMITHFIELD, R.I. – After clinching its fourth-straight Northeast Conference Tournament appearance Saturday afternoon, the No. 20/15 Bryant University men's lacrosse team looks to add an Ocean State Cup title to its resume Tuesday night, taking on intrastate rival Brown at Stevenson Field at 7:00 p.m.

The Bulldogs (11-3) take on their rivals in the final non-conference matchup of the season and the year's second-to-last regular-season outing. Bryant enters the game having won back-to-back contests while the Bears (6-6) are looking for their first victory of the month, having last won in an 11-10 shootout against Princeton March 29.

Brown is led by 20-goal scorers Sam Hurster (22 goals, 5 assists) and Dylan Molloy (20g, 9a), while three others – Tyler Landis (21), Brendan Caputo (26) and Kylor Bellistri (28) – have posted 20 or more points on the 2014 campaign. Landis is the team's top distributor at 13 assists.

Defensively, Brown's Larken Kemp has 20 caused turnovers and five points (2g, 3a) in 12 appearances and seven starts, also scooping up 39 ground balls. That number is good for second on the team behind 48 from Tommy Capone, who is the team's top faceoff specialist with a .522 winning percentage (84-161). The Bears have also used the services of Jordan Schochet (38-73) and Will Gural (23-56) at the X, and as a team, Brown stands at 50 percent at the faceoff.

All three will likely get a crack at the nation's top-ranked faceoff specialist in Bryant junior Kevin Massa (Huntington, N.Y.), who is currently the only player above 70 percent on the restart in the Division I ranks. Massa's .706 winning percentage comes along with 10.43 ground balls per game, good for third on the national circuit.

The junior has also chipped in three scores and an assist in 2014, though he is just one of many threats with the ball at the offensive end. Sophomore Shane Morrell (Glen Mills, Pa.) leads the team with 37 points and 25 goals, having put six tallies in the points column in Saturday's 13-6 win at Robert Morris (2g, 4a). Senior midfielder Colin Dunster (Cos Cob, Conn.) has found the back of the net 24 times for 31 points on the year, while rookie attack Tucker James (Essex Fells, N.J.) and senior midfielder Alex Zomerfeld (Port Jefferson, N.Y.) tie for third on the team with 28 points apiece. Both James and senior linemate Dan Sipperly (Greenwich, N.Y.) have scored 18 on the season.

But they will have to get past one of the region's top goalies in Brown's Jack Kelly, who has all 12 starts between the pipes for Tuesday's hosts. With 11.75 saves per game, Kelly leads the Ivy League and ranks ninth in the nation, just two spots behind Bulldog sophomore Gunnar Waldt (Freeland, Md.) (11.86). Kelly also boasts a 10.92 goals against average and .534 save percentage ranked 27th nationally. Waldt enters the game ranked in the nation's top-10 in saves per game (seventh), goals against average (fourth, 7.18) and save percentage (second, .624) and has 166 saves on the 2014 season.

Both Brown and Bryant topped Providence College earlier this season to set up Tuesday's Ocean State Cup title game showdown. All-time, the Bears lead the series, 3-2, including winning last year's outing, 8-7.