Richmond Beats Mercer; A-Sun Final Next for First-Year Program
from Press Release
MACON, Ga. -- Richmond picked a good day to have a good day.
The Spiders men's lacrosse program got a win in its first conference tournament in its first season, dispatching host and top seed Mercer 14-6 Thursday night at Mercer University Stadium in the second semifinal of the Atlantic Sun Conference Championships. The Spiders face two-seed High Point Saturday at 1 p.m. for the title and automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament in their inaugural year of Division I lacrosse.
Richmond is now 5-10, ending the Bears season at 7-7. After an 0-5 start, the mostly freshman-laden Spider team has won five of its last 10 games. The eight-goal margin was the biggest in program history, while the six goals allowed were the fewest against the Spiders this season and the fewest scored by the league co-champions. The win avenged an 11-7 loss to the Bears back on February 22.
Junior Alex Hatem (Syracuse, N.Y.) set a career high with four goals in the win, netting a hat trick by the half.
"This was the first time all year that we put together 60 minutes and the first time that the offense and the defense carried their end of the log," said Richmond head coach Dan Chemotti. "I was very happy with the way our guys played. Looking in their eyes, I saw the focus that they have and that they have had for the past couple of days."
An early Richmond penalty resulted in a man-up Mercer goal, but the Spiders were able to respond to with two first-quarter goals for the first lead of the day. Jean-Luc Chetner (Penticton, B.C.) scored with 4:33 remaining over the right shoulder of the goalie to tie the game and ASun Freshman of the Year Mitch Goldberg (Damascus, Md.) gave Richmond the lead with quick goal at the 2:11 mark to lead after the period.
The Spiders never lost the lead, scoring twice to start the second quarter, with Hatem getting on the board with a goal at the 10:22 mark. J.P. Forester (Bloomfield Hills, Mich.) added a goal less than two minutes later, his 26th of the season.
Hatem put in his second and third goals of the game for the hat trick to tie his previous best game for a 6-1 lead inside of five minutes in the half.
"The plan of today was just move, run and use our legs," said Hatem. "We wanted to push the ball and play fast. I think the fast play we had today really caught them off guard."
A little less than two minutes later, Dan Ginestro (Syracuse, N.Y.) chipped in with his 14th goal of the year and pushed the Richmond lead to 7-1.
The Spiders were tagged with a two-minute non-releasable penalty, which allowed the Bears to score two man-up goals to end the period for the 7-3 score.
UR out shot the Bears 26-9 in the first half, with 19 shots on goal to Mercer's seven. Freshman James Tautkus had all three Mercer goals, all man-up opportunities, in the opening half. Richmond has out scored opponents in the first halves of games this season by a 83-72 margin.
Sophomore Brad Burnam (Nedrow, N.Y.) scored goal 13 of the season at the 12:19 mark of the third and got the lead back to five. Four minutes later, a Richmond shot and save created a rebound for Nate Volpert (Radnor, Pa.) and he fired past an out-of-position goalie to regain the six-goal lead.
Hatem set his career mark with his fourth goal of the game with 6:48 to go in the third, with the first career goal of Chris Gifford came 44 seconds later to push the lead to eight, their largest against any team this season.
A penalty on the Spiders allowed one goal to end the third and two more to start the fourth to close the gap to five goals, at 11-6.
Richmond kept applying pressure and scored the final three goals of the game for the eight-goal victory. Goldberg scored the final two goals of the contest for his team-leading sixth hat trick of the season. He remains the team leader with 29 goals on the season.
Freshman goalie Benny Pugh (Powhatan, Va. / Woodberry Forest School) came up with eight saves in helping limit the Bears to just six goals, the fewest goals allowed in Richmond's young program's history to push his record to 5-8.
"It was pretty awesome playing in front of those guys tonight," said Pugh. "With the short week we had, we talked about being good off the ball and making sure our heads were on a swivel. I think overall the aggressiveness and intensity were the keys for tonight."
The 20-shot disparity (45-25) was the largest for the Spiders for a game.
Richmond will have tomorrow to practice before the title game against High Point, the league's co-champions, at Mercer Sunday. The game will be streamed for free online at ASun.TV, beginning at 12:50 p.m.
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