SMITHFIELD, R.I. – With the Northeast Conference regular-season championship on the line, the Sacred Heart men's lacrosse team fell at Bryant 12-7 on Saturday at Bulldog Stadium. The Pioneers had a chance to win the title after Robert Morris won 9-7 over Quinnipiac earlier in the day.
The Pioneers' loss and Colonials' win creates a three-way for second in the NEC, as Sacred Heart, Robert Morris and Quinnipiac each posting 3-2 records in conference play. With all three teams going 1-1 against each other, the tiebreaker of fewest goals allowed is needed. That makes Sacred Heart the number four seed for next week's NEC Championship, forcing the Pioneers into a rematch with Bryant on Thursday, May 2 at Bryant.
Matt King (Brewster, N.Y.) and Mike Mawdsley (Innisfil, Ontario) each had two goals to lead the Sacred Heart offense. Alex Miller (Ridgewood, N.J.) led all players with three assists as Matt Gannon (Huntington, N.Y.) added a pair of helpers. Alec Dvoretsky (Montville, N.J.) made nine saves in goal, playing the last 40:10. Defenseman Andrew Newbold (Loveland, Ohio) scored a goal in his second consecutive game and also had a game-high four caused turnovers.
Bryant (6-9, 4-1 NEC) took an early 2-0 lead on goals by Colin Dunster and Peter McMahon. Sacred Heart (3-10, 3-2 NEC) got on the board at the 9:04 mark of the first quarter when Miller found Mawdsley in front of the goal for his 25th goal of the year. After the Bulldogs extended the lead to three, 4-1, on McMahon's second goal of the game, Gannon assisted on King's first marker that made the score 4-2. Bryant then went on a 4-0 run, as goals by Dunster, Alex Zomerfeld, and Kyle Crowley put the Bulldogs ahead 8-2 with 10:10 to play in the second quarter. The Pioneers cut the lead to four before halftime, with goals by King and Matthew Bellucci (West Islip, N.Y.) putting the score at 8-4 at halftime.
Sacred Heart cut the deficit to three early in the third quarter when Cody Marquis' (Londonderry, N.H.) 25th goal of the season made the score 8-5 with 12:13 remaining. Bryant responded with three straight goals to take an 11-5 lead heading into the fourth quarter. Mawdsley scored his second goal with 11:49 remaining in the game, getting Sacred Heart within five at 11-6. Newbold made the score 11-7 with 3:39 to play but that would wrap up the scoring for the Pioneers.
Bryant outshot Sacred Heart 38-27 and had 47 ground balls to the Pioneers' 31. Saturday's game featured two of the top-four faceoff midfielders in the nation in Bryant's Kevin Massa, the nation's leader, and Stephen Kontos (Danvers, Mass.) who was fourth in the country entering the game. Massa won 16 faceoffs to Kontos' seven. Dunster and McMahon each had a game-high three goals.