#20/15 Bulldogs dominate Wagner, 15-7, in regular-season finale

Photo by Gretchen McMahon Photography
Photo by Gretchen McMahon Photography

SMITHFIELD, R.I. – A trio of Bulldogs piled on hat tricks with eight players finding the back of the net Saturday afternoon, as the No. 20/15 Bryant University men's lacrosse team capped off the regular season at home with a 15-7 victory over Wagner College on Senior Day.

The Bulldogs (12-4, 5-1 Northeast Conference) saw individual hat tricks across its top attack line with rookie Tucker James (Essex Fells, N.J.) leading the way, adding three assists to his trio of scores. Linemates Shane Morrell (Glen Mills, Pa.) and Dan Sipperly (Greenwich, N.Y.) each tacked on three as well with one assist apiece, while senior midfielder Alex Zomerfeld (Port Jefferson, N.Y.) tallied a pair with a game-best four helpers for six points of his own. The Seahawks (2-11, 0-6) got three scores from Paul DeVita and two more from Corey Santor in the loss.

"It was great to see us get going offensively today," said Bryant head coach Mike Pressler. "I felt with 53 shots, if we shot it a little better, we might have put a few more on the board. But in the end, we finish 12-4 on the regular season and 5-1 in the league, so it's been a remarkable season for Bryant lacrosse."

The Seahawks kept the game even through the opening quarter and played the host Bulldogs to a 4-4 tie after the first 15 minutes. But senior starting goalie Niko Dutra (Danville, Calif.) would find his rhythm from there, keeping Wagner off the board for the entire second quarter to allow Bryant six-straight scores to close out first-half play and take a 10-4 lead into the halftime break.

"It was great to get Niko Dutra in the goal. That was the highlight of the game for me," said Pressler. "To play four quarters and end the regular season with him on the field made it an incredibly special day."

After allowing Wagner to knot the game at 4-4 with 28 ticks to go in the first period, James opened up the second with his first goal of the day eight seconds into the frame, assisted by Sipperly off a clean faceoff win from junior Kevin Massa (Huntington, N.Y.). Massa would finish 19-of-22 on the afternoon, picking up 17 ground balls.

Sipperly would score his second of the day at the 11:13 mark for a 6-4 Bulldog edge, and Morrell and senior midfielder Colin Dunster (Cos Cob, Conn.) would net unaided tallies to double-up the Seahawks, 8-4, with less than eight to go in the stanza.

Sipperly completed his hat trick minutes later in unassisted fashion, before Zomerfeld capped off the second frame with a marker assisted by James to send the Bulldogs to the break with a 10-4 advantage.

Morrell completed his own hat trick with 5:41 to go the third to cap off a seven-goal stretch and hand the Bulldogs an 11-4 lead. Wagner would score once in the third quarter and twice more in the fourth, but Bryant would find the back of the net five times – including goals from rookie Brett Baker (Ridgefield, Conn.) and the first-career goal from frosh longstick midfielder Jared Kaden (Martinsville, N.J.) – in the second half to complete the 15-7 victory.

"It was great to see Jared get on the board," said Pressler. "That has been a point of emphasis for us with the defensive middies, getting them on the board in transition."

On the day, the Bulldogs outshot the Seahawks, 53-24, and won the ground ball margin, 43-24. Dutra finished the day with nine saves, while the Wagner combination of Nicholas Gibaldi (11) and Anthony Peruso (1) totaled 12 stops between the pipes on the day.

The Bulldogs now look forward to defending their 2012 and 2013 Northeast Conference Tournament crowns at next week's NEC Tournament hosted by Saint Joseph's in Philadelphia.

"This is our fourth-straight year to be in the tournament," said Pressler, "so we are thrilled about that, and we're thrilled to be the second seed."

The second-seeded Bulldogs will take on third-seeded Sacred Heart Thursday at 7:30 p.m.