The defending champion Hawkeyes opened the 2023 Upstate Collegiate Box Lacrosse League (UCBLL) season with a convincing 11-6 win over the rival Armory. Playing their first-ever game at the Onondaga Nation, the Hawkeyes used a balanced scoring attack and stifling defense to win the first showdown against their Rochester rivals.
In front of over 100 fans at Tsha’ Hoñnoñyeñdakwha (Translation: “Where they play games”), Zachary Terry was named the Crossbar Player of the Game as he posted four goals and one assist. The third-year UCBLL forward scored the Hawkeyes’ first three goals as his club stormed out to a 3-1 first-quarter lead and never looked back.
“For only being together three times, I don’t want to say it was the best-case scenario, but we all came together, put our heads down, and played a gritty game,” said the Limestone product. “All three coaches brought us together.”
Terry led an offense with six different goal scorers, including two goals from returner Rocco Santillo and two from rookie Pratt Reynolds. The Hawkeyes also got single goals from Tyler Gould, Nick Cartmill and Colin Duncan. Santillo finished the game tied with Terry with five points and chipped in three assists.
The Hawkeyes broke open the game early in the fourth quarter. With an 8-4 lead, the defending Mearns Cup champs scored three straight goals to move ahead 11-4. Terry opened the fourth with his fourth of the night at the 1:20 mark. Duncan then connected off a pass from Terry just over a minute later. Reynolds added his second of the contest at 8:56 to put the game out of reach.
The Armory added late goals from Gabe Edwards and Jonathan Pierce. Pierce led the way with two goals, while Edwards (1+1) and Mason Homer (1+1) also contributed with two points. The high-powered Armory offense, however, was held in check most of the night as the Hawkeyes’ defense and goalie John Jacobs (38 saves) allowed just three goals in each half.
“John stood on his head. He definitely made some saves to keep the score low,” said Hawkeyes coach Ryland Rees. “It was our first game. We are going to keep working and keep building.”
The Hawkeyes’ clamped down on the Armory offense, not allowing a goal for a span of 14:59 during the third and fourth quarters. After a goal by Homer made it 7-4, the Hawkeyes’ defense tightened while the offense notched four consecutive tallies.
“The offense was a little gun-shy after a couple didn’t go in,” said Armory head coach Ron Cogan. “John Jacobs is a great goalie, and he showed that tonight. The movement (on offense) was there. They know what they need to do and what they need to be successful.”
On defense, Cogan and fellow coach Jordan Jarvis inserted different personnel on the backend. With four natural defensemen, some forwards were called upon to play defense in their UCBLL debuts. At the end of the night, Cogan was pleased with what he saw and encouraged for the future.
“I was proud of how our defense handled themselves,” he said. “We asked many of them to play defense; they had never played defense before. We have a lot of offensive guys. They never complained and did what was asked of them. They were asking questions and wanted to get better. That was the bright spot for me.”
In goal, Will Dempsey made 39 saves and John Alexander stopped two of three shots he faced. The goaltending duo headline 10 returners from last year’s team that finished third in the UCBLL after a finals appearance in the National Collegiate Box Series (NCBS) National Championships in 2021.
The Hawkeyes returned a dozen players from last year’s team that advanced to the NCBS National Championships, where they reached the semifinals. After dropping just one game in the tournament, the Hawkeyes are focused on winning the UCBLL again and getting another shot at a national title.
“It’s good to be with the boys,” said Jacobs. “I have been waiting all winter for this. Glad we got the ‘dub.’ This is just the start.”
The Hawkeyes and Armory will return to action on Thursday, June 22, at The Classic Rink in East Aurora, NY. The Hawkeyes take on the Rapids at 6:00 p.m. while the Armory meets the Buffaloes at 8:00 p.m.