BULLDOG COMEBACK FALLS SHORT AS BRYANT FALLS TO COLGATE, 10-8, IN SEASON DEBUT
SMITHFIELD, R.I. – The Bryant University men's lacrosse team, on the back of four goals from sophomore Colin Dunster (Cos Cob, Conn.), came back to tie Saturday's 2012 season opener twice, but the Bulldogs would never take the lead as a pair of late Colgate goals gave the home side the final edge for a 10-8 victory in Hamilton, N.Y.
The Bulldogs (0-1) spotted the host Raiders (1-0) a three-goal lead three different times throughout Saturday's season debut, including an 8-5 advantage with seven minutes to play in the third, but a trio of scores across a five-minute stretch that spanned the final quarters saw Bryant even the game at 8-8 with 12:55 remaining in the contest.
Dunster -- who finished the game with five points, adding an assist on Bryant's first goal of the game -- scored two of those tallies, proving to be the final Bulldog goals of the afternoon, in the opening minutes of the fourth.
"We've seen this with Colin all preseason, so this type of performance is not at all surprising for us," said head coach Mike Pressler. "We've been waiting to see this happen."
Despite the momentum swing that came with the comeback, though, the Black and Gold had trouble holding off a sharp Colgate offense as the minutes ticked down. The Raiders would get the eventual game-winner less than five minutes later, an unassisted score from Ryan Walsh, and Jeff Ledwick would tack on an insurance goal at the 7:02 mark for the 10-8 final.
"I told the guys when we went down, 3-0, that this has got to be a one- or two-goal game late," said Pressler. "I told them to just keep battling back, and sure enough, we got all the momentum when we came back to tie it at 8-8. But after that, a couple of key plays just didn't go our way, and that's the game in a nutshell. Give Colgate credit -- they [executed their plays], and we didn't."
The Bulldogs worked from behind for the entire contest, spotting Colgate a 3-0 lead out of the gates before sophomore Dan Sipperly (Greenwich, N.Y.) got the visitors on the board at the 12:07 mark of the second period.
Bryant would score the next two goals within 32 seconds of each other, the first an unassisted tally from junior captain Peter McMahon (Wilton, Conn.) and the second an Alex Zomerfeld (Port Jefferson, N.Y.) goal assisted by senior captain Max Weisenberg (Long Beach, N.Y.), tying the game at 3-3 with eight to play before the halftime break.
But the visitors couldn't get the go-ahead goal, as Colgate's Peter Baum and Matt Baker each found his way past senior goalie Jameson Love (Darien, Conn.) for a 5-3 advantage that Dunster would cut to one with an unassisted goal with 1:44 to play before the end of the half.
"They say it's the plays at the end that decides a game, but in the first half, we had 25 shots and just four goals," said Pressler. "We had the opportunities to really make some plays on offense that would have changed the game, and obviously that didn't happen.
"At the end of the day, we had unbelievable opportunities," he added, "and we just didn't make those shots. And the ones we did, they saved."
The Raiders would score first coming out of the break, with Baum restarting the scoring just 1:25 into the third quarter. Colby Wilson's man-up goal 15 seconds later secured Colgate its second three-score advantage of the day with 13:20 to go in the frame.
Dunster would return the favor with his own man-advantage tally, assisted by McMahon, but the Raiders reupped their lead to 8-5 minutes later on another goal by Baum before junior transfer Cody Isdaner (Gladwyne, Pa.) cut the visitors' deficit back to two in the final two minutes of the third. Isdaner's score jumpstarted Bryant's three-goal run that led to the 8-8 fourth-quarter knot.
Colgate was whistled for seven penalties in the contest as the Bulldogs went 3-for-7 in extra-man opportunities. Bryant received three penalties and allowed the Raiders to score in two of their man-up situations. The Bulldogs outshot their hosts, 40-34, but saw just 17 of those shots go on target. Colgate netminder Jared Madison made nine saves for the win, while Love made 12 stops between the pipes for the Black and Gold.
" Jameson was solid," said Pressler. "He'll always tell you there were a couple he thought he could have saved, but I think we have a lot of new starters at the defensive end, and I thought [the defense] held up pretty well."
Rookie Kevin Massa (Huntington, N.Y.) edged out Colgate's Robert Grabher in his Bulldog debut, winning 11-of-21 from the faceoff X and paced the game with an impressive 10 ground balls in his first collegiate outing. The home side caused 14 turnovers, led by three from Bobby Lawrence, to Bryant's 11, while both sides were strong on the clear on the afternoon.
"Kevin, with all the weight of the world on his shoulders, had just a terrific performance today," said Pressler. " I couldn't be more pleased for Kevin in his debut in a Bulldog uniform, and we couldn't be more excited about him moving forward."
The Bulldogs return to Smithfield, R.I., for their next game and open up their seven-game home slate Saturday, Feb. 18 against St. Joseph's at the Bryant Turf Complex (1 p.m.).
"At the end of the day, we really like the nucleus of our team moving forward," said Pressler. "We are very excited to get some of our injured guys back, get back to full strength and see what this team truly can become."