M. lacrosse holds on to early lead

By
Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The No. 15 men’s lacrosse team survived another close game on Saturday, when Brown (4-1) jumped out to an early 5-2 lead and held on for a 9-8 victory over No. 13 UMass (3-3) in the Bears’ final contest before beginning Ivy League play. Quad-captain Jordan Burke ’09 had a season-high 20 saves to anchor the defense, while Reade Seligmann ’09 paced the offense with a team-high three goals. Quad-captains Jack Walsh ’09 and Kyle Hollingsworth ’09 collectively registered a three-point game for the Bears.

“We came out pretty hungry,” Seligmann said. “We were talking all week about how UMass is pretty much our biggest rivalry. They’re very similar to us, they’re very scrappy and we knew we were going to have to match them with that type of intensity.”

At UMass’s Richard F. Garber Field, affectionately known as “The Zoo,” the game remained scoreless for nearly nine minutes as UMass goalie Doc Schneider made four saves before Walsh finally broke the tie on an unassisted goal with 6:11 left in the first quarter.

But the Minutemen went on the attack, and though Burke made two more saves, Brown failed to clear the ball each time, leading to a goal by UMass’s Art Kell off a ground ball pickup with 4:58 left in the period.

Thomas Muldoon ’10 scored off a pass from Walsh to regain the lead for the Bears heading into the second quarter, but the Minutemen came out firing to start the period.

Burke made two saves in the opening 30 seconds of the second quarter, but once again, a ground ball pickup off a clearing attempt led to a UMass goal, tying the score at 2-2 just 40 seconds in.

“They had a pretty good ride on us all game, and we had a little bit of trouble clearing the ball,” Burke said. “We know that UMass really likes to shoot, so they don’t necessarily try to get the best shots, but they like to fire.”

The score remained tied for nearly eight minutes, but then the Bears took control. With 6:41 remaining in the half, Seligmann notched his first goal of the day, assisted by Hollingsworth, who leads Brown with nine assists this season. Just 28 seconds later, Rob Schlesinger ’12 scored the first goal of his college career, the first of his two goals of the day, to widen the lead to 4-2. Less than a minute later, Walsh added his second goal of the day to make it a 5-2 game.

“It was great to see Jack Walsh, Reade Seligmann and Rob Schlesinger step up and get a couple goals,” said Head Coach Lars Tiffany ’90. “There’s no question, if we’re going to be a strong program and contend for another Ivy League championship and the NCAA Tournament, we must have many threats. We have to be a well-rounded offensive unit, and that did emerge on Saturday.”

The Minutemen got one back with 4:36 left in the half, but Brown went into halftime with a 5-3 lead, behind two goals from Walsh and 12 saves from Burke.

“Jordan Burke was in All-American form,” Tiffany said. “We play a style of defense that allows the other team to take a lot of shots, and we give up shots that a lot of other teams wouldn’t want their goalie to see. But we welcome those shots on Jordan, because we believe in him so much, and he steps up to the challenge.”

UMass cut Brown’s lead to one with 11:27 left in the third quarter, and the Minutemen nearly tied the game with just under 10 minutes left in the period, but Burke made back-to-back saves just eight seconds apart, giving Brown possession, which culminated in Hollingsworth’s only goal of the day, off an assist from Andrew Feinberg ’11.

The Minutemen scored two straight goals to tie the game at 6-6, but Seligmann scored his second goal of the game with six seconds left in the period, completing the hat trick just under three minutes into the fourth quarter, giving Brown an 8-6 lead. Seligmann’s three-goal performance came on a day when the Bears needed it most, as the UMass defense shut down Feinberg, who did not score after recording a hat trick in each of the first four games of the season.

“We have a lot of different weapons on offense and we have some big superstar names out there,” Seligmann said. “It was one of those days where more people were getting opportunities and hitting the cage, rather than holding up on shots.”

Just 10 seconds after Seligmann’s third goal, the Minutemen scored off the face-off to make it a one-goal game again, but Schlesinger’s second goal, with 10:11 left to play, widened the lead to 9-7. Though the Minutemen brought the game back to within one just 35 seconds later, Burke was perfect from that point on, making four saves in the remainder of the game, including three in the final minute, to secure the 9-8 win for Brown, the team’s third one-goal win of the season.

“Jordan (Burke) wants the weight of the world on his shoulders,” Tiffany said. “He wants to be the last man back there when we’re relying on him to make the save to win the game. We’ve been doing that a lot lately, and he keeps proving himself.”

The win gives Brown its second straight victory over a nationally ranked team, after the Bears earned a 12-11 victory over No. 19 Denver on March 8. Both wins could prove to be key later in the season, when the team could find itself vying for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.

“The NCAA Tournament is always kind of in the back of our minds, after last year, going 11-3 and not getting in, so we know it’s really important to get quality out-of-conference wins,” Burke said.

On Saturday, Brown will travel to Hanover, N.H., to take on Dartmouth (1-4) for its Ivy opener.

“Going into the Ivy League season at 4-1 is key, and we’re playing with a lot of confidence right now,” Burke said. “But we know we haven’t played perfect yet, and there’s room for improvement, so hopefully we’ll have a good week of practice and be ready for the Ivy League season.”