Bulldogs drop road debut, 10-8, at Bucknell

Photo by Gretchen McMahon Photography (gretchenmcmahonphotography.com)
Photo by Gretchen McMahon Photography (gretchenmcmahonphotography.com)


SMITHFIELD, R.I. – Bucknell scored five second-quarter goals en route to an 8-4 first-half lead from which the Bryant University men's lacrosse team could not recover as the Bulldogs dropped their first road contest of the season, 10-8, Saturday afternoon.

The Bison (2-1) scored four unanswered goals heading into the intermission, breaking a 4-4 tie with 7:05 still to play in the second and getting goals from four different scorers in the stretch. The Bulldogs (0-3) would outscore their hosts, 3-1, in the third but couldn't make up the rest of the difference in the final period, eventually falling by the two-goal final.

"It was 4-4 with seven minutes to go in the second quarter, and that's where we let the game get away from us," said Bryant head coach Mike Pressler. "We had some very, very sloppy turnovers and made some plays to really help them."

But it was the Bulldogs who got on the board first, thanks to sophomore Brian Schlansker (Glenville, N.Y.), who took a feed from senior longpole Mason Poli (Downingtown, Pa.) 1:29 into the contest and fired it past Bucknell netminder Kyle Feeney for the 1-0 lead.

Tom Black would even the score for the home team at the 11:07 mark, assisted by Chase Bailey, who would then give Bucknell its first advantage three minutes later with his own unassisted tally.

Poli would re-tie the score at 2-2 with his third goal of the year thanks to the first of three assists from junior Alex Zomerfeld (Port Jefferson, N.Y.), but Bailey would find room behind rookie goalie Tom Carey (New Canaan, Conn.) once again with just 11 ticks left in the opening stanza to take a 3-2 edge into the second frame.

Sophomore Shane Morrell (Glen Mills, Pa.) would get the equalizer less than four minutes into the second quarter, also assisted by Zomerfeld, and would tally his second of the day less than 90 seconds later to neutralize a Thomas Flibotte score, but that would mark the end of the Black and Gold scoring before halftime.

Bucknell, however, would take advantage of that lull, with Flibotte breaking the deadlock with 7:05 to play while goals from Sean Doyle, Bailey and a man-up tally from Todd Heritage allowed the Bison to double up their opponents, 8-4, by the time the second quarter ran out.

Out of the break, neither team would get on the board until the 5:51 mark, when Poli broke through for the second time in the outing, this time in unassisted fashion, to close the deficit to three, but Bucknell would answer 36 seconds later with a Brock Ghelfi score that renewed the Bison's' four-goal cushion.

Zomerfeld would get in the goal scorer column with 1:44 remaining in the third off a dish from Schlansker, and junior Bo Redpath (Norwich, Vt.) netted his third of 2013 with 50 ticks on the clock to send the Bulldogs into the final period trailing by just two, 9-7.

"Alex has been our most complete player through the preseason and through the first three games," said Pressler. "He does so much for us. He's so reliable and trustworthy – you count on him game in and game out to play well, and he did that again at Bucknell."

But in the fourth, the Bison would score on the man advantage for the second time, and while junior Colin Dunster (Cos Cob, Conn.) – the Bulldogs' top scorer from a season ago – broke through for his first tally of the year with 1:29 left in the game,  it wouldn't be enough to get the Black and Gold the win.

"I didn't think that we really competed in the first half, even though it was 4-4, and I think our guys rallied to the challenge to compete in the second half," said Pressler. "But the damage was done in the second quarter – to beat a top team on the road you have to play 60 full minutes of Division I lacrosse."

Bryant gave the Bison six man-up opportunities on the game and was outshot in every period for a 40-26 final margin. Bulldog sophomore Kevin Massa (Huntington, N.Y.) was once again solid at the faceoff, winning 13-of-20 on the day against two different opponents at the X while picking up a game-best eight ground balls, a category the Bulldogs won as a team, 31-30.

Bryant was strong on the clear, failing just once in 15 attempts, and got 14 saves from Carey in net, but went 0-for-2 on man-advantage chances of its own.

"I thought Tom was OK in the first half," said Pressler, "but I thought he really stepped it up and played a very good second half. He really rose to the occasion in the final 30, made some saves he probably shouldn't have been able to keep out and allowed us to make a game of it."