April 5, 2014

New No. 1: Tuttle, Adelphi Dump Le Moyne

by Stephen Bailey | LaxMagazine.com | Twitter

In-Game Blog Replay


Last season, Le Moyne knocked Adelphi out of the Northeast 10 and NCAA tournaments. A Panthers team that won 12 of its first 13 games — including a regular-season victory over the Dolphins—had its postseason dreams derailed by Le Moyne.

On Saturday, in arguably the biggest Division II game so far this season, Adelphi got some revenge.

"This came down to what they did to us last year," attack Salvatore Tuttle said. They beat us in the semis to get to the national championship game.

"This game was pretty much our revenge game. But we can't get too over the top so we've got to come out like this both other times."

After playing three matchups last year that were decided by a combined six goals, the first matchup of 2014 had all the grit and emotion of the previous three. Tuttle scored a game-high four goals and fellow attack Nick Watson added three as the No. 2 Panthers (10-0, 7-0 NE-10) overcame a slow start to hand the No. 1 Dolphins (9-1, 6-1) a 13-11 loss, their first home conference slip-up since 1998.

The nation's best faceoff specialist, Gregory Puskuldjian, won 18-of-27 at the X including 12-of-13 spanning the 4:54 mark of the first quarter and 5:00 mark of the third.

"It gives the whole team momentum," Puskuldjian said. "It brings everyone up. If we get in a rhythm, we get a few goals in a row and then we're unstoppable."

Le Moyne head coach Dan Sheehan said the team is accustomed to being beaten at the X. That just requires the rest of the team to play efficiently.

But the Dolphins struggled to keep possession and execute on quality scoring opportunities. Starting goalie Pat Brothers threw away three clears relatively unpressured, and the team combined to commit 13 first-half turnovers.

"I don't know if it was the excitement of the game, maybe some of them were," Sheehan said. "But just turning the ball over, poor decision-making when we transitioned from defense to offense. They put a lot of pressure on you, defensively, from the opening whistle to the end and I don't know that we did the best job of handling that."

Still, the staunch Le Moyne defense, which entered the game allowing a nation-leading 6.44 goals per game, kept the Panthers offense in check early on.

Kevin Kelly scores back-to-back goals at the end of the first quarter and start of the second to give the Dolphins a 4-2 lead with 13:05 left before halftime.

But as Puskuldjian heated up, so too did Adelphi.

The Panthers scored four straight goals, taking a 5-4 edge into the break, and a 6-4 lead on a Brandon Goodwin goal 2:24 into the third quarter.

The teams traded goals four times, but ultimately, the Dolphins' carelessness would cost the team again.

After Ben Romagnoli replaced Brothers at the start of the fourth quarter, his team trailing 11-8, he made a mistake arguably more egregious than any his predecessor had made.

Romagnoli scooped up a ground ball 26 seconds into the fourth quarter, but bounced a clear straight to Watson, 20 yards out.

Watson dodged in straightaway and bounced an easy goal into the right side of the cage to make it 12-8.

From there, Le Moyne was never able to pull within one goal again. An errant pass from Mike Jenkins highlighted the struggles.

It wasn't until Andrew Chadderdon beat Aidan Bennardo on a man-up chance with 55 seconds left that the Dolphins pulled within two.

But Kam Bumpus was called for a violation on the ensuing faceoff to clinch the Adelphi victory.

Last year, Adelphi followed up a regular-season win against the Dolphins with two postseason defeats.

This year, they plan on following through.

Said Adelphi head coach Gordon Purdie: "As much as this win may mean something, it really means nothing in the big picture. Because the big picture is we're looking to win a national championship this year."

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