LEXINGTON, Va. – Down 4-1 midway through the second quarter, the VMI lacrosse team fought back to build a 7-6 lead early in the fourth quarter but the advantage slipped away in the final minutes as visiting Wagner left Drill Field No. 2 with a 9-8 victory over the Keydets on a cold Tuesday afternoon.
The Keydets (1-3) outshot the Seahawks (2-3) by a 40-35 count and had fewer turnovers than Wagner (15 to 17), but Seahawk goalie Matt Sefcik earned 20 saves and the Seahawks totaled 33 groundballs to VMI’s 27 to edge out VMI. The teams were closely matched in other key areas including faceoffs (Wagner won 11 faceoffs to VMI’s 11), clears (Wagner successful on 24 of 27 clears, VMI 22 of 24) and extra-man opportunities (Wagner 1-1, VMI 1-2).
“I’m frustrated because we played well enough to win this game but it came down to execution,” said VMI head coach Jon Birsner. “We made a lot of great stops on defense but then failed to clear the ball. We generated 40 shots and put 28 on goal but only came away with eight goals and allowed (Sefcik) 20 saves. We generated seven or eight fast breaks but only scored on one. We’re getting there but we need to turn the corner on finishing plays.
“I’m very proud of this team and staff. We got beat up last Saturday and they bounced back with incredible focus for a two-day turnaround. That is something that we can build on and continue to get better with. Because of that we get better each week and we have a lot of lacrosse left as we start SoCon play Saturday against a very good Richmond team.”
Down 1-0 after the first quarter, VMI’s Jon Fant scored his fifth goal of the year to knot it up but the Seahawks scored three unanswered goals to go up, 4-1. Freshman Ryan Perouty scored his eighth goal of the season by putting one in just before the half as the Keydets went into the break with a slim 4-2 deficit.
The Seahawks scored the first goal of the second half but the Keydet went on their own 3-0 run as Austin Henry scored twice and John O’Donnell added his first goal of the year to tie the score at five apiece. VMI would move ahead, 7-6, following a goal by Wagner and VMI goals from Henry and John Daniel.
Wagner would go on to score the next three goals to pull ahead in the final moments, 9-7, a lead the Keydets could not rally from despite a late goal by Fant, his second of the game.
Andrew Streilein and Nick Ancona led the Seahawks with three goals apiece while John Norton, Tyler Grady and Joe Lomeli each tacked on one.
Henry finished the game with a career-high three goals to lead the Keydets while Fant added two and one apiece from Perouty, Daniel and O’Donnell.
Defensively, Kyle Walsh picked up a career-high 13 groundballs and caused four turnovers to disrupt the Seahawk offense.
The Keydets open Southern Conference play Saturday with a noon matchup with Richmond.