By Dan Rubin
WALTHAM, MA – The ship has officially righted itself.
After opening up the season with back-to-back-to-back losses against some of the best teams in Division II, the Bentley Falcons men’s lacrosse team defeated the St. Anselm’s Hawks, 10-5, to even their record at [3-3]. The Falcons also improved to [3-1] in Northeast-10 Conference play, remaining a game out of a three-team log jam atop the standings.
Bentley jumped on board with two first quarter goals behind Dante Mancini and Matt Boilard. Mancini’s came from 4:53 into the game on a great individual effort, capping a five-minute start that saw the Falcon offense set up shop and feel out the Hawk defense.
“We had to find our matchups,” said Bentley head coach Jim Murphy. “Once we felt those out, we had to go with it. We had to be deliberate so we could get the right matchups, but we had play quick to avoid the slides and switches (of the defense). From that point, we have to make good decisions and get shots.”
Bentley padded their lead to as many as 4-0 halfway through the second quarter, before Jake Mallinson finally got the Hawks on the board. Bentley rallied back to regain the four-goal lead, when Dan Keefer potted a score with 3:03 left before the break. From there, the Falcons padded their lead behind three third quarter scores from Boilard, Mike MacDonald and Richard Travers. MacDonald’s goal stood out as a great individual effort, as he caused a turnover in the Bentley end, cradled a groundball and streaked into the St. A’s box before unleashing a laser show by Hawk goalie Dan Flynn. By the time the fourth started, Bentley held an 8-2 lead and had broken this one open. Regardless, they had to play unsatisfied with that result.
“(Despite the lead), we still need to remember to play a full 60 minute game,” said Coach Murphy. “St. Anselm’s is a good team, and they weren’t going to give up. They were going to keep coming and coming at us, so we had to keep playing strong and not give up on our end to play hard to the finish.”
Indeed, the fourth quarter saw the Hawks outscore the Falcons 3-2, although the Bentley man-up got on the board behind Boilard. Brendan Grant got into the scoring fray to round out the Falcon goals late, adding his team-high 12th of the season.
The win improved Bentley to .500 after they opened the season with losses to C.W. Post, New York Tech, and Adelphi. The Adelphi loss stands out as the only conference defeat for the team this year, and all three losses came to teams currently ranked among the top 10 in the national Division II polls. Bentley has two games left against Top-5 teams, including 2nd-ranked Le Moyne in conference play later in the year, and their next game against fifth-ranked Dowling.
“These games are great tests for our kids,” said Murphy. “To be the best, you have to challenge the best. These are very important games to get us ready for these tough conference games. Dowling’s up next as one of the top ranked teams, and we’ve played three teams that are some of the best. That will help our team get tougher for games like (Tuesday night’s against St. Anselm’s). We know that these teams don’t quit.
“Even though they haven’t won a game, St. Anselm’s is a very tough team. These are the types of games that we have to get ready for, and these are the 60 minute games we have to prepare for,” he continued.
Bentley’s back in action on Sunday, when they travel to Long Island to battle the Golden Lions of the East Coast Conference. Their next home game is on Wednesday, April 13, when they take on the Southern New Hampshire Penmen. The Falcons current record of [3-1] slots them even with Merrimack for a second-place tie, all behind undefeated Le Moyne, Adelphi, and Saint Michael’s.