DETROIT -- Down 7-1 early in the third quarter, the Virginia Military Institute men’s lacrosse team showed heart and clawed its way back into the game, pulling within three of the University of Detroit Mercy, but the rally fell short as the Titans claimed an 11-6 win Saturday afternoon at Titan Field.
After trailing 7-1 with 14:38 to play in the third quarter of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference game, VMI reeled off three consecutive goals midway through the quarter to make it a 7-4 game, but the Titans out-scored the Keydets 4-2 in the final quarter to seal VMI’s fate.
The Keydets, playing in their seventh road game of the season, were led by Bernie Mowbray and his two goals. Freshman Ben Huger tallied his first career points, potting one goal while dishing out an assist late in the fourth. Seniors Will Baker and Russell East tallied one goal apiece while fellow senior Tom Moran registered an assist. Another rookie, Gage Snowbarger, posted a marker on Huger’s assist.
Detroit was paced by four points from Alex Maini and Tom Masterson, both striking twice and tallying two assists. Andy Hebden finished with three points on one goal and two helpers. Scott Drummond also accounted for three points with a pair of goals along with one assist. Brandon Beauregard had one goal and one assist while Nick Garippa, Mike Birney and Nick Melucci each scored once. Thomas Sible accounted for one of Detroit’s nine assists.
Between the pipes, senior Matt Lindemann had one of his finest outings for the Keydets, making 20 saves, the second such game this season for the 6-5 netminder. A.J. Levell picked up his first win of the season for the Titans, making 10 saves and allowing five goals. He was spelled for the final five minutes by Damie Danseglio, who allowed one goal and had one save.
“Another solid showing by our defense was unfortunately negated by several self-inflicted mistakes and failed opportunities on offense,” stated VMI head coach Brian Anken. Being 0-2 in MAAC play and a winless season at this point is unacceptable. We have clearly made some positive strides on both sides of the field but we still have an enormous amount of work to do. Working hard has never been an issue with this group, but we need to find ways to better finish the opportunities we develop.”
Penalties hurt the Keydets as Detroit scored on all four of its extra-man chances. Conversely, VMI went 1-6 on the man-up with Snowbarger getting his second extra-man tally of the season, striking in the fourth quarter.
Faceoffs were a near split, with the Titans winning 12 of the game’s 20 draws. Damien Hicks went 11-15 to lead the day for Detroit. VMI’s Gaston Ledford won eight of his 19 chances while fellow sophomore Luke Frizzell took one run at the X.
In the groundball column, Detroit collected 34 grounders while VMI managed 30, led by six from its keeper, Lindemann. East had five groundballs while Baker snared another four groundballs. VMI went nearly 70 percent in clears, gaining the zone 16 of its 23 tries while Detroit was 15 of 19 (78.9 percent).
The Keydets had a difficult time getting the offense going, taking just 24 shots as the Titans took 49, including 27 in the first half, with 17 of those attempts coming in the second.
It was a slow first quarter, featuring just two goals, both coming in the last five minutes of the stanza. East extended his scoring streak to 16 games, struck with 5:01 remaining in the first. But the Titans (1-6, 1-1 MAAC) answered with Birney netting his goal with 2:33.
The second quarter belonged to Detroit, which rattled off six goals, including two extra-man chances. Maini and Garippa potted the man-up goals to give the Titans a 3-1 lead. The pair took advantage of a two-minute illegal body check penalty issued to VMI’s Rory Dillon. The Titans continued the run, striking three more times in even-man situations. Masterson bookended the three goals, gaped by Drummond, sending VMI trailing 6-1 into the halftime break.
Detroit struck once more to extend the scoring run to seven as Drummond netted an extra-man goal early in the third. The extra-man opportunity came about as VMI’s Brad Biondello was called for slashing with just one second left in the first half.
But the VMI offense awoke after a 20-minute scoreless drought, snapped by Baker’s second goal of the season. Mowbray then notched his goals on back-to-back chances to cut the Titan lead to three, 7-4 with 1:39 left in the third stanza.
Coming into the final period, Detroit posted another three-goal run from three different goal scorers, Maini, Melucci and Hebden. VMI (0-8, 0-2 MAAC) gave itself one final chance and made it a 10-6 game as Snowbarger banged home his second of the year on the man-up followed by Huger’s marker with 1:26 left to play. Snowbarger’s extra-man chance came on a conduct foul to Garippa. Beauregard scored the game’s final goal with one minute to play to give the Titans’ their first win of the season, 11-6.
VMI will continue its road warrior ways next weekend as it heads to Poughkeepsie, N.Y. to take on Marist College, picked second in the MAAC’s Preseason Coaches’ Poll. Game time is slated noon at the Red Foxes’ Tenney Stadium at Leonidoff Field.