AMHERST, MA 5/11/11– After advancing to the second-round of last year's NCAA tournament, Keene State men's lacrosse coach Mark Theriault was hoping that his Owls would have a nice run in this year's championship. However, the Lord Jeffs of Amherst College, who were making their first-ever NCAA appearance in the men's lacrosse championships, abruptly cut short Keene State's potential run, defeating the Owls 12-8 in the opening round of the 2011 NCAA Tournament on Gooding Field in Amherst, MA. on Wednesday.
Junior attack Evan Redwood paced the Amherst offense with a game-high four goals as the Lord Jeffs used a 4-0 fourth quarter run to pull away from the visiting Owls.
The Lord Jeffs, snapped the Owls' 11-game win-streak, improving to 14-2 overall on the season, while the Keene St. fell to 14-3 overall and 2-4 all-time in NCAA Tournament play.
With the win, Amherst moves on to face fellow NESCAC rival Middlebury College, which defeated Castleton College 24-7 in its opening round match-up. The Jeffs defeated the Panthers 9-7 in a conference showdown on Apr. 6, marking the program's first win over Middlebury since 1989.
First-year Devin Acton (Sudbury, MA) finished with a game-high five points on a goal and four assists, while junior attack Cole Cherney (Chappaqua, NY) chipped in with a hat-trick. Sophomore midfielder Ramsey Bates (McLean, VA) added a pair of scores, while junior Alex Fox (Garden City, NY) and sophomore Jeff Izzo (Plandome, NY) combined for two goals and three assists.
Lord Jeffs junior goalkeeper Sam Jakimo (Woodbury, NY) made eight saves and tracked down a team-high seven ground balls in the win, while first-year Duncan Morrissey (Ridgefield, CT) scooped up six ground balls, going 11-for-20 from the 'X'.
Keene St. junior attackmen Griffin Meehan (Simsbury, Conn.) and Matt Schairer (Wrentham, Mass.) and sophomore midfielder Ian Hart (Richmond, N.H.) each netted a pair of goals to pace the Owls, with the trio also combining for five assists. Senior Warren Dill (Yorktown Heights, N.Y.) and junior Chris Mallon (New Fairfield, Conn.) each got on the board for Keene with a goal apiece. Sophomore netminder Jason Leser (Brewster, N.Y.) made 17 stops in the loss.
Amherst, which went 21-for-22 on clears, held a decisive 50-24 shot advantage, while holding a 44-22 edge in ground balls and slim 12-10 advantage in face-offs.
Looking to take an early edge Keene St. took advantage of an Amherst tripping penalty just after the face-off as Hart took a pass from on the left side before firing a shot into the Lord Jeffs' netting at 13:54.
Hoping to keep pace, Amherst wasted no time getting on the board as Fox found an open Bates at 11:06 for the home team's first score. Undaunted, the Owls went back on the offensive, as Hart fed Schairer, who promptly ripped a tracer past Jakimo less than three and a half minutes after Bates' tally.
Needing to respond, Acton made a run down the right side toward the Keene St. net before finding a cutting Redwood in front of the goal for the Purple and White's second goal. Minutes later, Redwood spotted an open Cherney, but the junior attack sent the ensuing shot off the right post as both teams entered the second knotted at two.
Continuing to stay aggressive, Redwood spared little time breaking the deadlock, ripping a hard shot past Leser just 1:05 into the second period. Moments later, Keene St. would draw a 30-second pushing penalty, opening the door for the Owls man-up offense. With time winding down on the penalty, Hart connected with Meehan, who pulled Keene even with the squad's third score of the afternoon.
Wanting to stem the surging Owls tide, Amherst quickly got back on track, burying consecutive goals just 35 seconds apart to take a 5-3 lead. Izzo got the Lord Jeffs spurt started at 9:18, sneaking a low, bouncing shot just inside the left post before Acton turned a Cherney pass into Amherst's fifth tally.
With momentum swinging toward the Jeffs, Keene pushed the pace, quickly switching the field and going on the break, as sophomore attack Taylor Jette dumped it to a trailing Dill, who raced to the front of the Amherst goal, putting away the Owls fourth score with 6:21 left in the half. The Lord Jeffs responded by outshooting Keene 5-1 for the remainder of the quarter, but could not add to their cushion as Amherst headed into the intermission with a slim 5-4 margin.
The Lord Jeffs took advantage of a tiring Keene State defense is the second half.
Looking to add to his teams' lead coming out of the break, an opportunistic Redwood picked off an Alex Cuomo pass just in front of the Keene goal before flipping it over his shoulder into an open Owls' net just 1:10 into the third.
Searching for more, Izzo made a move down the right side just under the seven minute mark before finding Cherney alone in the middle of the field, as the Chappaqua, NY native put away a high shot while falling to the ground to extend the margin to three. Just over a minute and a half later, Fox buried Amherst's third-consecutive goal, dodging a couple of Keene St. defenders while moving toward his left before ripping a shot across his body to put the Lord Jeffs up 8-4.
Looking to slow Amherst, Hart made a nice cut toward the goal before finishing with a shot to the right side of the Lord Jeffs netting with just over three minutes left in the third quarter. Continuing to push forward, Keene St. junior Matt Crimmins got a wide open look from the front of the Amherst goal, but sent the shot off the post to keep it at 8-5.
Still down three entering the final period, Keene got a chance to cut into the Amherst cushion thanks to a pair of quick penalties, but Jakimo and the Lord Jeff defense held the visitors at bay, protecting the lead. Hoping to put the game away, Amherst answered by mounting a 4-0 run over the next 3:08 of action to extend their lead to six.
Redwood got things started, scoring on an Acton assist at 10:30 to make it 9-5. Acton then combined with Cherney for a pair of scores just 48 seconds apart, while Bates capped off the Lord Jeffs decisive run, taking a Fox pass before spinning and rifling the squad's 12th goal past Lesser at 7:22.
With under a minute to go, Keene St. first-year midfielder Andrew Fazio found a streaking Mallon on a fast-break, ending Amherst's streak of four-consecutive goals with their first score of the fourth period coming at the 43 second mark. Meehan and Schairer each tacked on a goal down the stretch but it proved to be too little too late as Amherst hung on for the 12-8 victory.
(Portions courtesy Amherst Sports Information)