Mass. College Lax: Defense Carries Wheaton Past Clark, 11-10

By NoontimeSports.com

A strong defensive effort helped the Wheaton College men’s lacrosse team earned their initial New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWAMC) victory this afternoon against Clark University.

Courtesy of the Wheaton College Sports Information Department, here is this afternoon’s release:

NORTON, Mass. – Tied 10-10 with less than five minutes remaining in the contest, Wheaton College first-year defender Victor Moitinho’s (Duxbury, Mass./Duxbury) third caused turnover at the 4:55 mark of the matchup led to sophomore midfielder Kyle Neale’s (Brooklyn, N.Y./Saint James School) game-winning goal, as the Lyons claimed an eventual 11-10 victory over Clark University in New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) play on Saturday afternoon at Nordin Field.

Neale snuck his third goal of the season past Clark University sophomore goalkeeper Drew Riopelle-Tyrrell (Northville, Mich./The Hill Academy)inside the right post with 4:07 left to play in the matchup after taking a feed well before the faceoff-X and beating two defenders in transition.

The Lyons’ defense put the clamps down over the final four minutes of the contest going 2-for-3 in clear attempts, while compiling two saves and one blocked shot to go with two ground balls and one caused turnover.

Wheaton junior goalkeeper Ryan Clair (Bloomfield Hills, Mich./Cranbrook Kingswood Upper School), who made 15 saves to push his record to 6-3 on the year, made a dynamic stop at the 1:43 mark to keep the lead intact.

Clark sophomore attackman Jack Goracy (Lumberton, N.J./Rancocas Valley Regional) made a heads-up play by taking advantage of a quick restart just inside the Cougars’ offensive third catching Clair and the rest of the defense backpedaling, but Clair responded quickly by centering himself in front of the net despite being well outside of the crease and promptly turned away the game-tying shot attempt from Goracy. Clark was awarded the restart after Wheaton failed to advance the ball offensively.

Cougars’ junior attackman Rob Holden (East Longmeadow, Mass./East Longmeadow) went on to pick up the ground ball, which gave the visitors another scoring chance, however Wheaton senior defender Alfonse Femino (Malden, Mass./Malden) jumped a passing lane behind the net in the right corner of the field and ricocheted an intended pass off of a Clark attackman to regain possession for the Lyons.

Wheaton needed to fight off one more offensive run by the Cougars with 15-seconds to play and the Lyons’s defensive unit did just that blocking a shot attempt in front of Clair. Moitinho then pounced on the loose ball and rifled it all the way down field to eventually claim the victory.

Sophomore Will Morrison (Osterville, Mass./Salisbury School) paced all scorers with four goals, while first-year Scott Whear (Duxbury, Mass./Duxbury) netted three strikes. Senior Matthew Hillman (Brookline, Mass./Brookline), sophomore Ryan Gjerset (Austin, Texas/St. Michael’s Catholic Academy) and first-year Griffin Phaneuf (Manchester, N.H./The Derryfield School) all tallied solo markers along with Neale’s game-winning goal.

Clark saw its offense come from eight different student-athletes highlighted by a pair of goals from senior Peter Christiansen (Seattle, Wash./Seattle Prep) and junior Ryan Moore (West Hartford, Conn./Conard). Sophomore Andrew Myhre (Middlebury, Vt./Tilton School), Goracy, Holden, senior Keegan Callahan (Tewksbury, Mass./Austin Prep), junior Alex Turgeon (Holden, Mass./Wachusett) and graduate student Ian Daly (Wantagh, N.Y./Wantagh) all found the back of the net once.

Sophomore attackman Nick Johnson (Amherst, Mass./Amherst) facilitated the offense with a game-high four assists and Riopelle-Tyrrell finished the contest with 14 saves in net for the Cougars as well.

Wheaton held a slim, 37-34, advantage in shots, while Clark notched a 41-39 differential in ground balls. The Cougars also went 14-for-25 at the face-off X, which were all won by senior face-off specialist Ryan Marsh (Osyter Bay, N.Y./Friends Academy), and 16-for-22 on their clear attempts. The Lyons were 18-for-27 in transition.

With Clark leading 8-5 after receiving with back-to-back goals from Holden and Daly to begin the third, Wheaton responded with five unanswered strikes including three from Morrison to reclaim a 10-8 gap on the scoreboard.

Christiansen and Moore countered the Cougars with goals at 9:46 and 6:03, respectively, in the fourth before Neale turned in the game-winning goal at 4:07.

Clark held a 6-5 lead at halftime as the Cougars turned around a 4-2 differential after the first period with a 4-1 showing in the second.

Wheaton (6-2, 1-0 NEWMAC) hosts UMass Boston in non-conference action next Wednesday on Nordin Field at 4 p.m. Clark (5-3, 0-1 NEWMAC) welcomes Plymouth State University to its campus on Wednesday at 7 p.m.

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