SMITHFIELD, R.I. – The Sacred Heart men's lacrosse team scored three unanswered goals in the fourth quarter Thursday, but top-seeded Bryant held off the Pioneers to win 11-9 in the NEC Championship semifinals at Bulldog Stadium.
All-NEC First Team midfielder Matt King (Brewster, N.Y.) led Sacred Heart with three goals and added an assist. Cody Marquis (Londonderry, N.H.) added a pair of goals as Matt Gannon (Huntington, N.Y.) had three assists and three caused turnovers.
Sacred Heart (3-11) held Bryant (7-10) in check defensively, forcing three early turnovers. The Pioneers scored first when All-NEC Rookie Team selection Alex Dodge (Smithtown, N.Y) scored on an alley dodge with 6:31 to play in the first, making the score 1-0. Bryant tied the game 1-1 with 4:49 remaining as Shane Morrell found Dan Sipperly for the tying goal. Alex Zomerfeld then scored two goals in the next 23 seconds to put the Bulldogs ahead 3-1. Bryant added one more goal as the clock hit 0:00 with Bo Redpath making the score 4-1.
After being outshot 10-3 in the first quarter, the Pioneers scored on their first shot of the second quarter. King got the Pioneers back within two, scoring 57 seconds into the second quarter to make the score 4-2. The senior had a chance to get Sacred Heart within one goal with 11:11 left in the half, but his shot was stopped by Bryant's Gunnar Waldt. The Bulldogs then scored on their next possession, as Peter McMahon's marker made the score 5-2 with 9:36 remaining in the second. Alex Miller (Ridgewood, N.J.) had a chance to get the Pioneers back within two at the 6:16 mark but his shot hit the post. Bryant cleared and McMahon scored his second straight goal to put the Bulldogs up 6-2.
Sacred Heart ended an over-10 minute scoring drought with 3:40 to play in the second, when Gannon assisted on Miller's fourth goal of the season. Tim Caton (East Rochester, N.Y.) then scored 16 seconds later to make the score 6-4. With a chance to get within one before halftime, the Pioneers turned the ball over and Mason Poli went end to end and scored, putting Bryant ahead 7-4 at halftime.
The Pioneers scored twice in the first five minutes of the third quarter, as goals by Seth Richard (Derry, N.H.) and Marquis got Sacred Heart within two, 8-6. Bryant then took control of the remainder of the quarter, outshooting the Pioneers 11-6 in the third. Sipperly's two tallies, along with a Collins Gantz goal, put the Bulldogs up 11-6 entering the fourth quarter. King got Sacred Heart back in the game with a pair of goals early in the fourth quarter, making the score 11-8 with 10:11 to play. Marquis then scored a quickstick goal right in front of the crease with 7:12 remaining to make the score 11-9. The Pioneers outshot Bryant 12-2 in the final quarter, but only got as close as two goals as Bryant hung on for the win.
Sacred Heart outshot Bryant 34-31 for the game, and 12-2 in the fourth quarter alone. Bryant won 15 of 23 faceoffs and held a 42-20 groundball advantage. McMahon led all players with six points on three goals and three assists. Sipperly also scored three goals.
The Pioneers wrap up the 2013 season with a 3-11 record and their first appearance in the NEC Tournament.