(Utica, NY)… The Hawkeyes earned a hard-fought 11-9 win over the Dragons Monday to clinch the top spot in Pool A in the NCBS National Championship. The Rochester team improved to 3-0, advancing to Tuesday’s 4:00 p.m. semifinal at The Utica University Nexus Center.
The Hawkeyes and Dragons entered the contest 2-0, the exact score the Northern California team held after one quarter. But the champions of the Upstate Collegiate Box Lacrosse League (UCBLL) used two five-goal runs to hand the Dragons their first loss of the tournament.
“That was by far our best team effort, and it resulted in a win,” said Hawkeyes head coach Dan Coates. “It was a collective effort, but individually we stepped up big time. It was fun to be a part of and a good test for us. It will get harder from here come playoffs.”
The Hawkeyes broke open the contest with a five-goal run over a 7:45 span in the second half. With the Dragons clawing back in the third quarter, Zachary Terry notched his second of the contest to make it 7-5. Will Hardy added a goal with 35 seconds left, off a great individual effort, to give the Hawkeyes a three-goal advantage. Rochester then connected for three straight to open the fourth as Terry notched back-to-back tallies, and Nick Cartmill scored on a quick stick to make it 11-5.
The Hawkeyes would need those extra goals as the Dragons rallied for fourth straight goals to get within two. Layne Kology scored his third of the game during the late 4-0 run, and the Dragons got two markers from Patrick McIntosh and one from Tommy Barnds. However, Hawkeyes’ faceoff man Quinn Nolan won the ensuing draw, and his teammates killed off over a minute’s worth of time with two consecutive possessions.
“John Jacobs was a wall and made some great stops at the end,” said Coates. “(Jake) Piseno, (Patrick) Mitchell, and (Tyler) Gould were good on ‘D’ and (Ian) Kane got some big loose balls for us.”
Terry led the way with four goals and three assists, while Hardy and Grant Breyo each collected one goal and three assists. The Hawkeyes got goals from eight different players. In the second quarter, they showcased their scoring prowess as five players found the net to give them a 5-3 lead.
The Dragons had stormed out into the lead in the first as Connor Dodd and Eric Bollar scored to take a 2-0 lead. Cole Morris made 12 of his 33 saves in the first frame as they frustrated the Hawkeyes’ offense.
Rochester’s first goal would come from their backend as defenseman Ryan Sharkey scored his first of the tournament at 2:21 of the second, completing a breakaway opportunity to cut the deficit to 2-1. After a Dragons’ power-play goal, Terry finally posted his first goal to make it 3-2. Breyo and Santillo scored from in tight, just 13 seconds apart, and it was 4-2 Hawkeyes. Kellen Pulera finished the scoring in the first half with his fourth of the tourney.
The Hawkeyes’ defense was solid midway through the second half as they held the high-powered Dragons’ offense scoreless for 14:23. John Jacobs was stellar in goal, making 38 saves. Piseno highlighted the team’s effort with physical play against a very tough Dragons squad.
The Hawkeyes will play the Red Hawks in the semifinals. The Rochester team is trying to advance to its first Finals after reaching the semifinals last summer.
The Dragons will play in Tuesday’s 2:00 p.m. semifinal versus their California Collegiate Box Lacrosse League (CACBLL) rival, the Royals. The Dragons are bidding to make the NCBS Finals in their first appearance in the tournament.
“We were hoping to meet the Royals in the NCBS National Championship Finals, but we’ll have to settle for facing off against them in the semis,” said Dragons head coach Shaydon Santos. “The Royals are a great well-coached team of American and Canadian players and are two-time NCBS National Champions. We are honored and thrilled to face them in the battle of California. We split the series this year in the CACBLL, and we know tomorrow will be a close match and down to the wire.”