MADISON, N.J. – Down by a score after one period, the VMI lacrosse team ignited the opponent net with six goals in the second period en route to an 11-9 victory over host NJIT Saturday afternoon in Madison, New Jersey.
The win gives the Keydets (1-1) their first win of the season and a 3-0 all-time series mark against the Highlanders having defeated NJIT the past two years. VMI head coach Jon Birsner also holds an undefeated mark against the Highlanders.
“I'm really proud of this group,” Birsner said. “From start to finish they played with great energy and for each other.
“Our defense continues to dig their feet in, communicate and make team defense stops. Kyle Walsh continues to lead this group and it has allowed Brandon Crespo, John Schmank, Eric Lane and Patrick McPartlin to settle in and make plays. I'm also really proud of John O'Donnell. He continues to fill every position we need him to and he does it with incredible determination.”
Down 2-1 after the opening quarter, freshman Ryan Perouty evened the score before fellow freshman Jon Fant put the Keydets up with his first career goal. After a pair of NJIT goals, the Keydets went on a 4-0 run over the final six minutes of the half to go up, 7-4, at the break. Senior Wes Sanders scored twice in the span as well as Perouty and Fant to give VMI momentum for the second half. Sanders and Perouty would go on to finish the game with four goals apiece.
The Highlanders managed five goals in the second half but the Keydets countered with four of their own to keep NJIT at bay. Sanders added one more and Perouty logged two more scores while freshman Anthony Moran scored his first career VMI goal just before the fourth quarter.
“On offense we had great balance and lots of young guys stepping up and scoring seven of our 11 goals,” Birsner said. “Our freshmen were able to do that because they were led by senior Wes Sanders. Wes's comeback from ACL surgery just last May has been inspirational to this program. It's great to see him back on the field”.
The Keydets finished with 41 shot attempts to the Highlanders' 31 and had 35 groundballs to 24 for NJIT. VMI also won the faceoff battle by claiming 13 of 22 attempts. On defense, the Keydets allowed just two goals on eight NJIT extra-man opportunities.
VMI freshman goalie Bill Osteen earned his first career win with 10 saves in a complete game while NJIT's Nick Marzullo was given the loss despite 10 saves.
The Keydets return to action next Saturday, March 3 with a road game at Mount St. Mary's starting at noon in Emmitsburg, Maryland.