STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. - Seeking its best start to a season in 24 years, the VMI lacrosse team accomplished the task with a 15-10 victory over host Wagner College Tuesday afternoon at Hameline Field in Staten Island, New York.
With the win, the Keydets improve to 3-1 on the season for their best start since 1995, a year in which VMI opened with a 4-0 start to the season.
VMI senior midfielder John O'Donnell led the charge with a career-high four goals and also logged two assists to help VMI to the win. With four goals, he doubled his season total and now has eight on the year.
"That was a hard fought 60-minute game," said VMI head coach Jon Birsner. "With so many runs by both teams I think it showed a tremendous amount of heart and hustle down the stretch by our guys to just keep fighting. We knew they’d be in and out of zone all game so I was proud to see our guys share the ball all game. Johnny Daniel did a great job being able to bust the zone during two big second-half possessions.
"Faceoffs and wing play were a battle all game. I feel like they had AJ Krstulovic's number early but we were able to go on runs and stop theirs because of our fight at the X. I am so proud of these guys and the coaching staff. It was a short turnaround and an away game on top of that. That is very difficult to do but Coach (Sean) Doyle put together a great game plan and in just two days I felt like our defense knew their opponent and were confident in the scheme. That was impressive!"
The Keydets won the faceoff battle, 17-12, and limited the Seahawks at midfield as Wagner was unsuccessful on eight clearing attempts due to the Keydet pressure. Krstulovic won 16 of 26 faceoffs he battled in to gain valuable possessions.
Ryan Perouty, Jon Fant and Johnny Daniel each logged a pair of goals while Michael Santos, Josh Bass, Donald Proper, RJ Barnes and AJ Krstulovic each had one to aid the Keydet victory. Daniel was credited with two assists along with O'Donnell's two and three others were given single helpers.
Defensively, Kyle Walsh had four caused turnovers and the backline earned 10 total to keep the Seahawks at bay. Goalie Benjamin Stump continued his admirable play with 13 saves on the afternoon to move to 3-1 individually on the season.
The Keydets open SoCon play Saturday with a big matchup at No. 14 Richmond scheduled for noon at Robins Stadium in Richmond, Virginia.