March 28, 2011

Joy of Six: Camels, Dutchmen Work Overtime 

by Jac Coyne | | Twitter

It was sophomore Mike Giambanco who had enough left in the tank to score a goal and give Connecticut College the 8-7 victory over Union after six overtimes in a game played at Georgetown. The game is thought to be the longest in Division III history.

“I’ve been coaching since 1973, and I’ve never seen more than two overtimes,” said Union coach Paul Wehrum.

“In my first year coaching at Gettysburg, the first game we had a three-overtime game with Roanoke in 1998. Something like that,” said Connecticut College coach Dave Cornell.

After last Wednesday’s contest between the Dutchmen and the Camels, those memories are old news. These two teams met in a neutral field game at Georgetown University and played what is thought to be the longest game in NCAA Division III history.

It was a six-overtime affair, settled 24 seconds into the sixth frame when Connecticut College sophomore Mike Giambanco finally ended the game to give the Camels an 8-7 victory. Before that happened, things were starting to get pretty blurry.

“I had no idea what period we were in. We were just playing,” said Cornell, with a laugh. “I was just hoping we could win the first faceoff so we could call timeout, and hopefully we’d score. We were just drawing up plays in the sand.”

“I know you’ve got to find the hot kid,” added Wehrum, who continuously mixed his lineups during the extra time. “We were switching up formations and switching up tactics. We threw six or seven freshmen in there. It wound up being a defensive battle for the last five minutes of the game and into overtime. The goalies played well. It was great lacrosse.”

It was great lacrosse because there were no ploys involved. Neither team slowed it down. There were a combined 111 shots between the squads, including nine in the first overtime alone. The large, mostly impartial crowd at Georgetown was enthralled, with the possible exception of the Hoyas women’s team, which had its practice delayed.

“Our goalie made two or three unbelievable saves,” said Wehrum, referring to Union’s All-American Sean Aaron. “Their goalie made one great save when our senior attackman Brendan Kinnane turned the corner and went one-on-one, and the goalie stuffed him up high. We hit the post twice in overtime; they hit the post once. It was great lacrosse, and it was exciting.”

Cornell confirmed.

“There were a lot of chances," he said. “Both goalies played well. We’ve been looking for a goalie to step up, and we finally had one who had a better game than their guy. Our guy made more saves, but their guy made some great saves, that’s for sure. It was definitely up and down and nobody stalled it. They had a couple of good chances, but didn’t hit the net. It was crazy. I’ve never been a part of anything like it before.”

Before the game started, Cornell felt Connecticut College would have an advantage because he ran more players than Union. He estimated that the Camels traditionally run 28 guys per game, and the Dutchmen were near 19. As the contest went into overtime, those tendencies flipped, as it was Cornell who ran a short bench.

The physical nature of the game had left two of Connecticut College’s starters with concussions and a third with damaged ribs. Nothing dirty, Cornell said, just the reality of a hard-fought game. But it forced the Camels to juggle their lines.

“We had our top three or four midfielders, and those were basically the only middies we were going with once we got late into the third quarter,” Cornell said. “We were going with the same three attackmen, too. Every time we came into the huddle, I would say, ‘Middies, which ones of you are good?’ Out of those four, if only two said they were good, we would pull in another guy to let the offense go. Just about every time we got into a huddle from the fourth quarter on, we were saying, ‘Okay, who can run?’ We were just asking who could still breathe at that point.”

It was Giambanco who had the most gas left in his tank, although Cornell chalked it up to a fortuitous bounce. “We got lucky and had one that finally get past [Aaron],” he said.

While sitting on the bus on his ride back to Schenectady, Wehrum was happy to recount how the game played out, even though he didn’t get the result he wanted. When you play over 86 minutes of good lacrosse, it takes the edge off the final outcome.

“Both teams weren’t grateful that it was over," he said, "but they were very proud to be in that game."

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