SMITHFIELD, R.I. – The Bryant University men's lacrosse team posted a second-half shutout for the second time in three games and improved to 4-0 in the Northeast Conference for the first time since 2012 with an 8-3 victory over Wagner Saturday at the Bryant Track & Turf Complex.
Bryant trailed 3-1 at the half before the Bulldogs scored the final seven goals of the contest while holding the Seahawks off the board for the closing 35 minutes. Junior Kevin Beimfohr (Mountain Lakes, N.J.) made 11 saves in the Bulldogs' fourth-straight win, while redshirt-sophomore Jake Buonaiuto (Miller Place, N.Y.) had a two-goal game for the second time in as many games.
With Saturday's victory, Bryant has clinched a spot in the Northeast Conference Championship. The four-team event will be held May 3 and 5 at the site of the No. 1 seed with the winner earning an automatic qualifier to the NCAA Tournament.
Bryant 8, Wagner 3
Records: Bryant (6-5, 4-0 NEC), Wagner (4-7, 0-3 NEC)
Location: Bryant Track & Turf Complex (Smithfield, R.I.)
COACH PRESSLER'S COMMENTS
"Kenny Massa getting going on the face-off in the second half was critical for us. Quite frankly, we shot the ball better in the second half. In the first half, we were 1-for-20 shooting – their goalie was terrific, but we shot poorly. In the second half, we shut them out defensively as Kevin Beimfohr made some critical key saves for us. We shot the ball better and won the face-offs. Those were the things that made the difference in the second half."
"We're just getting better defensively and a lot of that has to do with Coach Brodersen and his plan there. We mixed our defense, we made saves and we don't have to play as much defense because we've been so dominant at the face-off X. All of those factors have had a lot to do with our success in the second half over the last three games."
"These types of games, when it wasn't necessarily going our way for whatever reason, you ask your seniors to dig down – your prime time players. Kyle Cornell made a play, Tom Kennedy made a play and Chas South did a great job on their best player. Turning around that 3-1 deficit with a 7-0 second half – the leadership had a lot to do with it."
- Buonaiuto scored the first goal of the game before Wagner responded with three second-quarter tallies to take a 3-1 lead into the half – the first time Bryant had trailed at the half in conference play.
- Junior Kevin Quigley (Fairfax Station, Va.) and sophomore Trevor Weingarten (Allendale, N.J.) scored 43 seconds apart in the final minute of the third quarter to flip a 3-2 deficit into a 4-3 advantage heading into the final 15 minutes.
HOW IT HAPPENED
- Bryant scored the lone goal of the first quarter, supplied by Buonaiuto just 1:47 into the contest.
- Wagner's Andrew Streilein scored all three goals in the second quarter to give the Seahawks a 3-1 advantage at the half.
- Senior Tom Kennedy (Farmingdale, N.Y.) kickstarted the Bryant offense with a goal 53 seconds into the second half to bring the Bulldogs within 3-2.
- Quigley and Weingarten scored 43 seconds apart in the final minute of the third quarter, as Weingarten's goal with six seconds remaining in the quarter putting Bryant ahead 4-3.
- Senior Kyle Cornell (Darien, Conn.) scored 15 seconds into the fourth quarter to double the Bulldog advantage.
- Senior Cam Ziegler (Carlsbad, Calif.) and Buonaiuto scored 50 seconds apart, with Buonaiuto's man-up goal assisted by Weingarten pushing the lead to 7-3 with 8:06 to play.
- Junior Matt Heldberg (Kings Park, N.Y.) capped off the scoring with 6:39 to go for the final 8-3 margin.
- Buonaiuto tallied two goals along with two ground balls.
- Graduate student Kenny Massa (Huntington, N.Y.) was 13-of-15 at the face-off X with 11 ground balls. Massa improved his face-off percentage to .707 for the season.
- Beimfohr made 11 saves and held his opponent scoreless in the second half for the second time in three games. The junior from New Jersey has allowed just two second-half goals over his last three contests and holds a 7.00 goals-against average and .622 save percentage in NEC play.
- Cornell collected five ground balls and a caused turnover in addition to his goal.
- Junior Will Hamernick (Darien, Conn.) and sophomore Jake Fiske (Poway, Calif.) each had two caused turnovers as Bryant recorded 10 caused turnovers as a team – its highest total since last year's NEC title-game win over Hobart.
- Freshman Marc O'Rourke (Hingham, Mass.) notched two assists and four ground balls.
- Bryant outshot Wagner, 39-24.
- The Bulldogs held a 32-21 advantage in ground balls.
- Bryant improves to 10-0 all-time against Wagner.
- The Bulldogs are 4-0 in the NEC for the first time since 2012.
- The victory was Bryant's first this year when trailing at halftime and first when scoring in single digits.
- Massa now stands third in program history with 356 career ground balls.
- Senior Anthony Johnson (Fairfield, Conn.) tallied a caused turnover to move to sole possession of seventh place in program history with 64.
Bryant travels to Philadelphia for a game Saturday, April 14 at Saint Joseph's. The 1 p.m. game can be seen on NEC Front Row.