CHESTERTOWN, Md. — For a good portion of this afternoon’s game, it appeared as though Rory Averett (Ivyland, Pa./Council Rock North) might score enough goals to assure a Goucher victory over Washington (Md.) in the opening round of the 2012 NCAA Division III Men’s Lacrosse Championship.
The senior attackman scored twice in the first quarter and the Gophers were up 2-1 after 15 minutes. He stuck another one in the second period as Goucher enjoyed a 3-2 advantage at halftime.
There was only one goal scored the entire third period and it was an extra-man goal by Averett which made the score 4-2 in favor of the Gophers.
But in a span of nine seconds during the early stages of the fourth quarter, the Shoremen wiped out their deficit. They closed to within 4-3 on a goal by Dominic Serio with 12:44 left to play. Michael Trapp won the ensuing faceoff, scooped up a ground ball, took off up the field and deposited a shot in the net to create a 4-4 tie.
The tie would last for nearly five full minutes before Kyle Boncaro (Geneva, N.Y./Geneva) scored to put Goucher back on top.
Although the Shoremen got off six more shots over the final 7:45, not one reached its intended target as the Gophers held on for a 5-4 victory. By winning, head coach Kyle Hannan’s squad, which is at No. 10 again this week in the USILA Division III national rankings, advances in the tournament to play No. 1 Salisbury, the defending Division III national champion, on Saturday.
Averett, Goucher’s all-time leader with 190 career goals, took only two of his team’s 11 shots in the opening period, but still accounted for both of the Gophers’ goals. The first one was set up by Sam Woodruff (Glen Ridge, N.J./Kent School) and the second one by Matt Lynch (Ivyland, Pa./LaSalle College). It was Lynch’s 38th assist of the season, which breaks the former school record of 37 established in 1997 by Tim Asher.
Woodruff also picked up an assist on Averett’s goal in the second quarter.
Connor Mishaw (Wilmington, Del./Brandywine) made 15 saves in goal for the Gophers and some could only be described as “remarkable.” The junior goalkeeper was particularly solid down the stretch, making three of his saves after Boncaro scored midway through the fourth quarter to put Goucher back in the lead.
In addition, Mishaw rose to the occasion when one of his teammates was serving time for a penalty, making saves on three of the nine shots the Shoremen (11-6) got off during their five extra-man opportunities.
While Washington was 0-for-5 in man-up situations, three of Goucher’s five goals came on extra-man opportunities for the Gophers (18-1). Averett’s goal that broke a 1-1 tie in the first quarter was an extra-man tally, as was with his goal in the third period and Boncaro’s tie-breaking goal in the final stanza.
Today’s win evens Goucher’s all-time record in NCAA Division III men’s lacrosse playoff games at 1-1. The Gophers made their only other appearance in the tournament in 2010 and lost to Middlebury, 10-6, in the opening round.
It’s also the school’s first victory in an NCAA postseason tournament in any sport since the men’s basketball team defeated Cabrini, 67-60, in a first-round game during the 1996-97 season.