February 21, 2011

Redemption: DeOliveira Delivers Vs. W&L

by Jac Coyne | Lacrosse Magazine Online Staff | Coyne Archive | Twitter

Wittenberg goalie Mark DeOliveira lasted just 15 minutes against Washington & Lee last year as the Generals hung six goals on his in the first quarter. On Saturday, DeOliveira shutout W&L in the fourth quarter, helping the Tigers grab a huge road victory.
© Erin Pence/Wittenberg University

It was not a good day for Matt DeOliveira.

With Wittenberg hoping to knock off Washington & Lee last February, the Tigers' starting goalie laid an egg. After 15 minutes, DeOliveira, then a junior, allowed six goals and made just three saves, allowing the Generals to coast to a 10-4 victory over Wittenberg.

"He did not play well against W&L last year," said Wittenberg coach George Harris, succinctly.

It was one of the few hiccups for DeOliveira during the 2010 campaign. He finished with a 7-3 record, a 7.73 goals against average and a 58.0 save percentage, and was crucial in helping Wittenberg share the NCAC championship and earn its first-ever bid to the NCAA tournament.

On Saturday, DeOliveira had a chance to make amends for last year on the same field. He didn't waste the opportunity.

DeOliveira allowed just six goals and made 12 saves, stifling the Washington & Lee offense late in the contest and permitting the Tigers to rally from a three-goal deficit to take the 7-6 victory.

"It always starts with Mark DeOliveira," said Harris, who is the first Wittenberg coach to post a victory over Washington & Lee. "He's a senior and a three-time captain, so we expect him to make the big plays when we need them."

The Tigers needed them late in the game, and that's when DeOliveira stood tall.

With Wittenberg trailing, 6-5, at the start of the fourth quarter and goals hard to come by, a W&L goal would have likely been a game-ender. The Generals pushed hard for it, but DeOliveira never relented, making seven saves in the fourth. Meanwhile, Matt Lord and Tyler Hall scored 42 seconds apart to give the visitors a lead and the eventual 7-6 victory.

A year after being yanked and watching the final three quarters of a loss on the bench, DeOliveira was the difference in a massive win for the Tigers. With Pool B expanding to four bids this year, a win over a power conference team like Washington & Lee is a key ingredient for Wittenberg's return trip to the NCAA tournament this spring.

Tack on the presence of a favorable schedule – Wittenberg could easily be 9-0 heading into the April 16 contest against No. 15 Denison – and 2011 is already shaping up to be a promising one for the Tigers.

For DeOliveira, it's been more than promising. It has provided redemption.

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