(Photo Courtesy of Saint Joseph’s Athletics)
The Saint Joseph’s Hawks have extended their winning streak – which began on March 8th in a conference-opening win over Wagner following three straight losses against Towson, Delaware, and Army to open the season – to nine games and are on their way to their fourth conference championship appearance in hopes of making their first NCAA Tournament trip following a 19-11 defeat of LIU on Wednesday afternoon.
A 23-for-32 (71%) effort at the faceoff dot from Zach Cole played a huge role in the Hawks’ victory. In addition to Cole’s dominance at the dot, the Hawks saw Evan Campbell dish out six assists and tally one goal for seven points while Matt Tufano and Ryan Doran each had six points off three goals and three assists.
Will Snelders led LIU with four goals as the Saint Joseph’s defense held the Sharks’ leading goal scorer, Richie LaCalandra to just one goal for the first time this season.
While it was very much a back-and-forth affair between the Sharks and Hawks for the majority of the first half, a Levi Anderson rip with 2:43 in the second quarter sparked a six-goal Saint Joseph’s run that lasted through the 13:08 mark in the third and put them ahead 12-6. LIU was never able to recover from the run, being outscored 7-5 in the final 25 minutes of the contest.
Additionally, the Sharks committed 21 turnovers (10 in the second half) opposed to the Hawks’ 13. LIU also had a 45-24 disadvantage in the ground ball game.
Bryant 14, Hobart 12
The Bryant Bulldogs are heading back to the NEC title game for the first time since 2017, when they won the conference, after taking down Hobart 14-12 in Wednesday afternoon’s semifinals matchup.
After a three-goal run to start the third quarter pushed Bryant ahead 8-3, the Statesmen struck back with four straight goals to pull within one. However, a Mike Kearney goal with 15 seconds left in the quarter pushed Bryant ahead 9-7 and proved to be the difference in the game.
Each side found the back of the net five times in the fourth quarter, but neither team ever scored more than one goal at a time. Aidan Goltz scored the final goal of the game to ensure the two-goal win for the Bulldogs and earn himself a hat trick.
Bennett Abladian led Bryant with five goals (three of which came in the fourth quarter) while Marc O’Rouke scored four goals. Luke Caracciolo put up 17 saves to anchor the Bulldogs’ defense.
Derek Madonna led Hobart with four goals and one assist for five points. Tommy Mott had four points off two goals and two assists. Drew Blanchard won the battle at the faceoff dot, going 15-for-25 (60%).
NEC Championship Game: Saint Joseph’s vs Bryant (Saturday, 1pm)