March 14, 2014

Ferguson, Eastern Ease Past Colorado College

from press release

Grant Ferguson scored three goals and dished out three assists, giving Eastern a key victory over Colorado College on Friday. His last goal also gave him 99 for his career, which ties the school record. (Kevin P. Tucker)

ST. DAVIDS, Pa.- On May 5 of last year, the Freedom Conference Cchampion Eastern University men's lacrosse team sat in the school's gym and watched the NCAA tournament selection show. The 15-2 Eagles listened as five other teams were awarded Pool B slots in the tournament and Eastern was left out. Today's home-opener against Colorado College gave this year's Eastern team a chance to gain an important head-to-head result against one of those teams.

The Eagles (5-1) scored three times in the fourth period to pull away to an 11-9 win. Junior attack Grant Ferguson led the way with three goals and three assists. Ferguson's final tally gave the Eagles a little cushion in the final minute and was his 99th career goal. He is now tied with former teammate Chris Farrar atop the Eastern's career scoring list.

Throughout the off-season and early part of the year, the Eastern coaches and players have used the disappointment of 2013 as a motivation for going forward, and the Eagles came out of the gate flying. Andy Jameson owned the scoring on a goal from on the crease three and a half minutes into the contest. Ferguson provided the pinpoint pass. Just over a minute later, JC Hoffmeister found a cutting Kyle Gillam for a 2-0 Eastern lead. Hofmeister, one of eight Eastern seniors, made the lead 3-0 on a nice individual effort with 8:26 left in the opening period.

Colorado College took a timeout. The Tigers (3-3), then answered with three goals from their veteran players. Senior midfielder Jack Kreitler scored the first of three on the day at the midway point of the period. It appeared that Eastern had answer for that when Eric Waibel knocked a ball free on an aggressive check in the ride and scored in an empty net, but the hit was determined to be a cross check and the Eagles went down a man for a minute.

The Eagles survived the first man-down situation, but a second penalty gave the Tigers another chance. Henri Halle put away his first of two on the day midway through that 30 second penalty. The Tigers tied the game on an individual effort from junior midfielder Gray Ritger.

The Tigers had an 11-6 edge in shots through the first period.

Eastern opened the second period with three unanswered tallies to seize a 6-3 lead. Dez Decker scored off another Hofmeister feed. The Eagles then capitalized on their first man-up chance of the day on a scorching low-to-high effort from Ferguson. Dave Darling picked up the assist. Tim Lamb finished the Eastern run with his fourth of the year with 6:37 to play in the half.

The Tigers, once again, would not go away. Halle, a junior midfielder, and the Tigers' top scorer on the year, cut the deficit to 6-4 on a feed from Ritger, and then Sayre Thomas took advantage of possession on a face-off violation to pick up his first of two goals on the afternoon. Thomas took 22-of-23 faceoffs for the Tigers. He finished 11-of-22 but scored twice directly off faceoff wins.

Colorado College had chances to tie the game late in the period, but Pat Groschan made back-to-back stops to preserve the 6-5 halftime lead. Eastern's senior goalie had six of his 14 saves before the break. Chase Murphy finished the game with 10 stops. Four of those came in the second period.

Colorado College turned the tables in the third period and scored three straight to grab an 8-6 lead. Jack Kreitler tied the game a little over five minutes into the half. Thomas then scored on the ensuing faceoff. Less than a minute later, Jack McCormick gave the Tigers a two-goal edge on his seventh of the year.

Down 8-6, the Eagles drew two consecutive penalties. For two full minutes of man-down play, the Eastern short-handed unit did not allow a shot. Groschan made a decisive interception late in the second kill to spring the Eastern attack.

Once on the attack, the Eagles drew a short penalty and again capitalized on the man-up chance. Darling again fed Ferguson in a combination that has proved to be very effective in the early part of the year. Seven of Darling's team-best 15 helpers have been finished by the high-scoring junior.

The Eagles tied the game at 8-8 following another Groshan save. This time, however, it was Ferguson who played the role of provider and Darling who finished. Darling's goal from close range with 4:33 to play was his ninth of the year.

The Tigers had the ball for the final moments of the period but were unable to get a shot off. A shot fired after the final horn and whistle put the Eagles on man-up to start the period. For the year, the Eagles score on 57 percent of their man-up chances. Cody Ridgway gave that unit its third tally of the day and a 9-8 lead with a shot from the edge of the crease on another Ferguson pass. Decker made it 10-8 at the end of a long possession with his second of the day on a nice drive down the alley.

The two-goal edge did not last.

Twenty-six seconds later, Kreitler answered with his third of the day and the game was again a one-possession contest with nearly nine full minutes to play. Both goalies made several good stops and the scored remained 10-9 with two minutes left. The Tigers took their final time-out to organize a set. The Eastern defense blocked one shot, and then Shawn Farmer jarred a ball loose with a clean check in the left alley. Tyler Gehlhaus picked up the ground ball under pressure and flipped it to Jordan Norris with under a minute to play.

With the Tigers riding at full speed, Norris heaved an 80 yard pass toward the opposite crease . Ferguson won the race for the ball and buried his 24th tally of the year.

Ferguson missed seven games his first year. His 99 goals came in 36 games. He has scored goals in 22 of his last 23 games.

Interestingly enough, Ferguson will have the chance to pick up his 100th goal tomorrow against the one team that shut him down. Eastern travels to Gettysburg for another important resume contest at 1:00 tomorrow. The Bullets (2-3) have dropped three straight to teams ranked in the top 11 in the country. Gettysburg was one of two teams to beat the Eagles in 2013. Eastern will play Ursinus College, the other team, back on Olson field on Tuesday.

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