Wheaton pushes forward to Pilgrim title game after 14-7 win over MIT
NORTON, Mass.- The Wheaton College men's lacrosse team advanced to its second Pilgrim League Tournament title game in as many years on Wednesday, as the second-seeded Lyons downed visiting third seed Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), 14-7 during a semifinal round game at Mirrione Stadium.
Matching the 13-year-old program record of seven straight wins while posting the most goals given up by MIT all season, Wheaton improved to 7-6 and will face the winner of tonight's other semifinal between top seed Springfield College and number-four Babson College on Saturday at the highest remaining seed at 1:00 p.m. The Blue and White seeks its first league title, while the Engineers finished their season at 7-8.
After having to overcome four deficits during last Wednesday's 9-7 win at MIT, the Lyons never trailed during the teams' first league tournament meeting. Junior Warren Garceau (Guilford, CT/Canterbury School) provided the hosts with a 1-0 lead not even three minutes into the first, connecting on a feed from sophomore Ben Cederberg (Duxbury, MA/Duxbury) at 12:04.
The first quarter's final two goals came in a 10-second span. MIT senior Ryan Ballentine (Simsbury, CT/Simsbury) found classmate Neil Zimmerman (Dallas, TX/Greenhill School) for a game-tying score at 1:10, but at the one-minute mark, Cederberg assisted sophomore Chris Landers (Manchester, MA/Proctor Academy), giving the Lyons a 2-1 edge heading into the second period.
After the two teams exchanged goals to start the second, Wheaton scored the next two over 2:59, including Landers' second tally at 2:47, to make the score 5-2. With 12 ticks on the clock, Ballentine brought the Engineers to within two on a pass from senior Dylan Roden (Bellport, NY/Bellport).
Roden kept the pressure on by scoring 55 seconds into the third and narrowing MIT's deficit to 5-4 before the Lyons gained control. Wheaton went on a 5-0, period-ending run to secure a comfortable 10-4 advantage, with Landers beginning the flurry by picking up the hat trick at 9:33 before eventually capping the stretch with his fourth goal at the 11-second mark. Cederberg, Garceau and freshman Conor Finn (Kennebunk, ME/Kennebunk) also tallied during the run.
The hosts stayed on the attack to begin the fourth, as the nation's eighth-best man-up offense converted at 14:09, with Cederberg assisting freshman Billy McNamara (Mansfield, MA/Northfield Mount Hermon School) for an 11-4 Lyon advantage. Three different Engineers found the back of the net over 3:47, with Ballentine playing a hand in two markers, to make it 11-7 before Wheaton countered with three goals of its own, including the last two on man-up opportunities. McNamara had back-to-back tallies in a 1:50 span, while Landers capped the scoring at 2:54.
Landers led all scorers with five goals, Cederberg accounted for five points on a goal and four assists, while McNamara had a hat trick and one helper. Garceau scored twice, junior Tim Horan (Cheshire, CT/Cheshire) turned in a goal and two assists, and classmate Drew Schaffer (New Haven, CT/Loomis Chaffee School) had two helpers. Junior goalie Schuyler Horn (New Hartford, CT/Kingswood-Oxford School) was impressive between the pipes with 15 stops, including six in the fourth.
For MIT, Ballentine totaled two goals and a pair of assists, while Roden finished with two tallies and one helper. Junior Garth Grove (Jarrettsville, MD/North Harford) had 11 saves.