May 18, 2011

Roanoke Stuns Stevenson with 14 Seconds Left, Advances to NCAA Semifinals

by Joel Censer | | Live Blog Replay

OWINGS MILL, Md. - With 53 seconds left and its NCAA Division III men's lacrosse quarterfinal game tied at 12 in the fourth quarter Wednesday, things didn’t look too good for Roanoke.

Stevenson sophomore attackman Tyler Reid had just prodded his way in front of the cage and put the ball behind his back and past Maroon goalie Charles Pease.

The Mustang cheers, however, were quieted when the official called back the goal, saying Reid had stepped in the crease. Still, he had drawn a yellow flag (a push with possession), and the Maroons, who were having trouble getting any offense going for much of the fourth quarter, were now staring down Stevenson’s potent extra man unit (33 percent for the year).

But Pease turned back a Neal Barthleme wing shot with 13 seconds left in the penalty and the Maroons cleared. The ball eventually ended up in the hands of lefty attackman Mike Hayden, who after sweeping to his strong hand found crafty linemate Richard Lachlan in front of the cage.

There, the sophomore attackman and Port Coquitlam, British Columbia native caught -- and in one motion -- finished the spot feed to put the Maroons up 13-12 with just 14 seconds left in the game.

“The Canadian way,” Roanoke coach Bill Pilat joked after the game.

Stevenson tried to counter. Ray Witte (two goals, 20-for-29, 14 ground balls) won the next faceoff clean and drew a pushing penalty to give the Mustangs’ EMO a chance at redemption.

But Richie Ford’s final shot was blocked, sending Roanoke into a frenzied celebration and stamping the Maroons' ticket to the NCAA Division III semifinals, where they’ll face Salisbury.

Richard Lachlan (42), Roanoke's top scorer and a British Columbia native, celebrates after scoring the game-winning goal "the Canadian way" to beat Stevenson.

© John Strohsacker/

For Lachlan, who finished the game with two goals, the late game flourish helped make up for a day in which Stevenson’s quick double teams and solid second slides softened much of his usual catch-and-shoot impact.

“It felt awesome,” said Roanoke’s leading scorer of his final tally. “It’s the best feeling I’ve ever felt.”

The game exorcised the Maroons’ demons in this series. Last season, Stevenson beat them 15-14 the quarterfinals when Ford put a shot through his legs in overtime. Earlier this year, Stevenson romped to a 16-6 victory.

But this time, Roanoke was able to survive, despite being dominated on faceoffs and outshot 57-42, thanks to junior attackman Jeff Keating (five goals) and its backline, particularly Pease. The red-hot freshman goalkeeper made 22 saves, many of the acrobatic variety, and helped prevent the three- and four-goal runs that make Stevenson so deadly.

He was also aided by a green freshman-filled defense in front of him. Whatever it lacked in age, it made up for in savvy and a solid game plan.

The Maroons were slow to double the ball and refused to slide off the Mustang attackers in transition situations, preventing the likes of Dailey, Reid and Barthelme from getting into any sort of a rhythm. (Stevenson ended the game with just two assisted goals.)

Individually, Roanoke's long poles and short-stick defenders did a nice job in transition,  picking the ball off the ground and guarding in settled situations. Senior leader Alex Burkhead (four ground balls), with the help of Stevenson’s slick grass field, held Jimmy Dailey’s stop-and-go act to just two goals.

“Keep my feet and run with him,” Burkhead said of covering Dailey.

Stevenson ends the season with an 18-2 record. Head coach Paul Cantabene would not offer any excuses and credit Roanoke for handling the Mustangs' pressure on offense, great goaltending and taking advantages of their “bounces.”

While disappointed at the result, Cantabene was quick to give credit to a Stevenson senior class that helped transform the place from a tiny school on the outskirts of Baltimore into a Division III superpower.

 “They put the university on the map,” he said.

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