February 22, 2014

Bryant Bests Hartford in Defensive Struggle

from press release

WEST HARTFORD, Conn. – University of Hartford juniors Kevin O'Shea and Ty Schuldt scored two goals apiece, but it wasn't enough for the men's lacrosse team as it came up short in a defensive battle against Bryant, falling 7-5 in its home opener at Al-Marzook Field at Alumni Stadium Saturday afternoon. The Hawks dip to 1-1 on the season while the Bulldogs improve their mark to 2-1 overall.

Alec Brown, a freshman, netted his first career goal to round out the Hawks' scorers. Shane Morrell's goal just over three minutes into the fourth proved to be the game-winner for the Bulldogs, who never trailed in the contest.

Bryant drew blood first, scoring less than five minutes in on a goal by Dan Sipperly, who led all scorers with a hat trick. That 1-0 count would stand for the remainder of the opening period, until Colin Dunster's fourth marker of the year doubled the Bulldogs' advantage to 2-0 just 28 seconds into the second stanza.

With 4:25 remaining, Hartford got on the board as with Brown's first goal as a collegian cutting the Hawks' deficit in half at 2-1. The Bulldogs responded, though, expanding their lead back to a pair of tallies before the break on a goal from Cody O'Donnell with 2:21 to go.

Out of the intermission, the Hawks clawed their way back, scoring two unanswered goals less than a minute apart to knot up the score at three goals apiece. Schudlt, a junior, provided the spark for that rally, finding the back of the net on a feed from senior transfer Greg Reynolds at the 11:22 mark. Fifty-eight seconds later, O'Shea, who was coming off a career-high 10 point outing in the Hawks' season opener at Richmond, rifled in his seventh goal of the season to tie things up with 10:24 remaining in the third.

Before the end of the third quarter, Bryant broke open the deadlock, going back-to-back to take a 5-3 advantage. Collins Gantz started the spurt at the 7:42 mark and Sipperly added to the Bulldogs' margin with his second goal to open up the two-point lead. But Hartford struck one more time in the stanza as Schuldt closed the gap to one at 5-4 heading into the final 15 minutes of regulation.

The opening minutes of the final stanza proved to be the turning point in the contest as Morrell found the back of the net with 11:45 left to put the Bulldogs back in front by two goals. With just under five minutes to go, Sipperly struck again for the third and final time, making it a three-goal advantage for the visitors heading into the final minutes.

In the fourth, Hartford forced Bulldogs' goalie Gunnar Waldt to make four saves, but it was unable to cut into its deficit until the final minute. Following a Bryant timeout with 22 ticks left on the game clock, O'Shea brought the Hawks' disadvantage down to two at 7-5 with 16 seconds remaining, but it was too little too late as the Bulldogs won the ensuing faceoff.

The Bulldogs finished 10-of-16 at the X behind Kevin Massa, last year's NCAA leader in face-off wins and ground balls.

Hartford, which doubled Bryant's 22 shot attempts, also held a 36-27 margin in ground balls. The Hawks converted on all but two of their 20 clear attempts and forced the Bulldogs into 25 turnovers while committing just nine. Senior Alex Matarazzo accounted for four of Hartford's 14 caused turnovers to match a single game career-high.

Waldt finished with 17 saves in the win while Piechota made saves on seven shots he faced.

The Hawks return to the road for their next two games, starting with a trip to Manhattan next Saturday for a 1 p.m. start against the Jaspers. The contest ends a nine-year hiatus between the two squads as they last met in the New York City borough back in 2005.

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