The nationally-ranked No. 20 St. Lawrence University men's lacrosse team opened its 2014 Liberty League season in style on Saturday, as the Saints knocked off Skidmore College 9-6 in Canton, NY. Tommy Hovey scored a hat trick for the home team, while Nick Ford made 10 saves in goal to earn the win.
The Saints (4-1, 1-0) finished with a 36-22 edge in shots and a 35-21 lead in ground balls. Though Skidmore (1-6, 0-1) held a 10-8 lead in face-offs, the Thoroughbreds were done in by 17 turnovers and an 0-for-4 mark on man-up tries. St. Lawrence used an 18-of-19 mark in clears to control the transition game, while the defense and Ford did a great job keeping Skidmore's scoring chances to a minimum, including 14 caused turnovers.
"I think it was the type of game that shows that every Liberty League contest is going to be a 60 minute battle," said St. Lawrence head coach Mike Mahoney. "I was impressed with Skidmore's effort and game plan, but was pleased with the way our guys responded."
Alonzo Holcombe and Caleb Cane each had three caused turnovers on the defensive end, while Sam Marvin had a game-high five ground balls. Jack Metzler led Skidmore with two goals while Matt Diaco made nine saves in goal to keep the visitors in the contest.
The first quarter was very evenly played, as each team managed seven shots to come away with a 2-2 tie after 15:00 minutes. Hovey scored both goals for the Saints, while Quinn Hawkins and Kevin Mulvey answered for the Thoroughbreds.
Hovey completed the hat trick only 3:01 into the second quarter, taking a pass from Jeremy Vautour at the top of the crease and beating Diaco during a man-up try. Though Seth Berger answered for Skidmore only 1:36 later to tie the score at 3-3, rookie Conor Healey's goal with 6:51 left in the second quarter capped the half's scoring at 4-3. Healey used a slick move to get around the defender and beat the goalie despite being taken down from behind.
St. Lawrence began to pull away in the third, as the home team opened with three straight goals to seize a 7-3 advantage. Luke DiLisio made it 5-3 before long stick middie Caleb Kane added his first collegiate goal in transition with 4:27 left in the quarter. Garrett Gagne then made it 7-3 off a pass from Healey with 1:49 remaining, and the Saints appeared in complete control.
Skidmore would respond, though, and made it a game with two goals in the final 1:09 of the third to claw back to within two down 7-5. After Josh Trachtenberg beat Ford to make it 7-4, Metzler took a feed from Hawkins and buried his first of the game with 4.7 seconds left, seemingly giving all of the momentum to the Thoroughbreds heading into the fourth period.
St. Lawrence's face-off specialist Ryan Brigham had other ideas. The sophomore won the opening face-off of the fourth quarter cleanly, rushed up field and beat Diaco for a momentum-swinging goal only eight seconds into the final stanza. Though Skidmore would answer with a tally from Metzler to make it 8-6, Charlie Jennings ripped a high shot past Diaco's shoulder to get the goal back for a 9-6 lead.
The Saints' defense did the job from there, limiting Skidmore's offensive chances and forcing several turnovers in transition. The Thoroughbreds would get no closer, as St. Lawrence ran out the clock on the opening conference win.
"We had some key offensive possessions and played solid defense for most of the game," added Coach Mahoney. "We took care of the ball all over the field, which is something we'll need to continue to do moving forward."
St. Lawrence will be in action again on Tuesday, March 25 when it hosts SUNY Geneseo at 4:00pm.