Second Half Run Leads Naz Into E8 Finals
from press release
ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- Host and top-seeded Nazareth outscored fourth-seeded Utica 10-3 in the second half to break open a close game Wednesday and the Golden Flyers went on to take a 15-7 triumph over the Pioneers in men's lacrosse action at sun-baked Golden Flyer Stadium.
The win was the seventh straight for the 15th-ranked Flyers, who were competing in the first round of the Empire 8 Conference Tournament. Nazareth improved to 13-4 overall. Utica, competing in its first-ever E8 Tournament, is 9-7 overall. Nazareth will play again Saturday at 12 noon for the E8 title against third-seeded Ithaca, a 12-10 upset winner at Stevens in Wednesday's other E8 playoff game.
Junior midfielder Collin Clark scored four goals for the Golden Flyers and freshman attackman Luke Wooters added three goals and three assists. Freshman Troy Haefele also scored twice and added two assists. Chris Aycock and Chris Peterson added two goals apiece and Nick Loscalzo and Chris Benza also scored.
Nazareth led just 5-4 after a methodically played first half, but the Golden Flyers exploded for four third-period goals to take command. They scored six more times in the fourth quarter to pull away.
Sophomore Drew Simoneau was his dominant self at the face-off position as he won 20 of 26 draws and scooped up 15 ground balls. Junior defenseman Jerry Chasteen had six ground balls and three caused turnovers.
Utica led 2-1 after one quarter before Nazareth rallied to scored four straight times, including goal numbers 50 and 51 on the season for Wooters. Clark also had an unassisted tally and Peterson scored a short-handed goal to stretch the lead to 5-2. The Pioneers trimmed the lead to 5-4 before halftime with goals from Zack Stevenson and Trent Jacobs.
Utica had chances to tie the score in the third quarter, but Nazareth goalie Scott Brown made a key save on a shot by the Pioneers' Joe Schoen with just over eight minutes left in the period. The outlet pass found the stick of Loscalzo, who sprinted down the field and scored unassisted to enable Nazareth to regain its two-goal cushion.
Loscalzo's goal triggered a five-goal flurry that spilled into the fourth quarter and ended with Nazareth up 10-4. Aycock and Troy Haefele scored man-up goals during that stretch and Wooters netted his third goal of the game and 52nd of the season.
Clark scored three more times for Nazareth in the fourth quarter to boost his season total to 24. The lead ballooned to 15-5 following goals by Benza and Peterson. The Pioneers closed out the scoring with goals from Jacobs and Ben Winkler.
Nazareth had advantages in shots (51-29) and ground balls (44-23) and was successful on 18 of 19 clearing attempts. Brown finished with eight saves and senior Tim Doyle had one in the fourth quarter. Utica goalies Andrew DiOrio and Trey Adams each played 30 minutes. DiOrio had seven saves and Adams six.
Nazareth shoots for its eighth conference championship (and first since 2009) and 20th NCAA Tournament berth Saturday against Ithaca. Nazareth defeated Ithaca 15-8 in a regular-season game on April 5 in a game that was tied 7-7 at halftime.