In the winner-take-all championship game at Segar & Sciortino Field at The Blue Cross Arena on Monday night, the Armory (8-1) pushed past the Hawkeyes (5-5) 14-11 to clinch the Mearns Cup and become the first-ever champions in Upstate College Box Lacrosse League history.
With a team-high seven points on three goals and four assists, Kaleb Benedict (3+4) helped the Armory capture the championship while Casey McDermott (3+3), Luke Pilcher (4+1), Hunter Lemieux (2+0) and Joey Pezzimenti (0+3) all turned in a multi-point effort. Camden Hay (1+0) and Jeremy Jacob (1+0) both found the scoresheet while Rioux Johnson (0+1) and Lars Stout (0+1) were credited with one assist apiece.
Goaltender William Dempsey, who went 7-1 in his eight regular season starts this season, made 39 saves, including all 16 shots he faced in the first quarter.
With an eight-point effort from Koleton Marquis (2+6) and multi-goal outbursts from Spencer Bell (5+0) and Nicholas Miller (2+0), the Hawkeyes nearly pulled off the upset. Trevor Hill (1+1) notched a pair of points on a goal and an assist while Carson Colucci (0+1), Mitch Pfeiffer (0+1) and Nathan Schultzkie (0+1) all tallied an assist. Zachary Terry (1+0) rounded out the scoring on the night as he scored the final Hawkeye goal during the third quarter.
Netminder Tehonatake Nicholas (1-1) made his third appearance during the playoffs, and despite stopping 35 of the 49 shots he faced, suffered the loss.
In the first quarter, the Armory silenced the Hawkeyes with four-straight markers all at even strength.
Benedict kicked off the scoring for the Armory 1:21 into the contest, going back-to-back with his first of two tallies of the game. Pilcher and Jacob rounded out the scoring in the first quarter, with Pilcher notching his first of four goals on the night and Dempsey stopping all eight shots he faced in net over that first 15-minute span.
WATCH: GAME HIGHLIGHTS
As the second quarter ensued, the Armory extended their goal streak to five straight to up the score 5-0 before the Hawkeyes began to inch away at a comeback.
Almost a minute after the Armory opened the scoring in the second frame, the Hawkeyes went for three straight tallies thanks to Bell getting on the board first. Marquis followed suit with his first of two in the quarter before T. Hill finished up the first three-goal push for the Hawkeyes within a three-minute timeframe to put the score at 5-3.
McDermott made the next push for the Armory in the second frame, going back-to-back before another pair of goals were exchanged between both clubs heading into the half with Armory ahead 8-4.
Coming out of the half, the Hawkeyes were striving to make a comeback, tallying back-to-back markers within the first 1:30 of the third quarter.
Once again, Bell struck first for the Hawkeyes with his first of two in the third frame just 52 seconds in. Miller helped push the Hawkeyes to a two-goal deficit with his first of the game not even a minute later before the Armory continued to up their lead with another pair of markers from Pilcher and Hay.
As the Hawkeyes went on to make another three-goal push over another three-minute span, the Armory would tally one more goal in the third frame to set the score at 11-9 heading into the final stanza.
For the first and only time of the championship contest, the Hawkeyes tied up the tilt at 11 apiece in the final 15 minutes of play.
Bell was the lone Hawkeye to find the back of the net for his squad, with his fourth and fifth markers of the night to give his team a chance at a possible comeback. However, the Armory didn’t go down without a fight, scoring three-straight goals in the final 4:10 of play.
Thanks to Pilcher finishing up his four-goal night and McDermott tying a bow on his three-goal effort, the Armory upped the Hawkeyes 14-11 to take home the Mearns Cup in the UCBLL’s inaugural season.
The Armory travel to San Jose this week to take on the winners of the California Collegiate Box Lacrosse League to crown this year’s National Collegiate Box Series champions.