Patriot League Semifinals: Boston U. Toughs Out Overtime Victory Over Lehigh, Nichtern Leads Army West Point in Comeback

(Photo Courtesy of Boston U. Athletics)

The Boston U. Terriers are heading to their first Patriot League title game.

The Terriers earned a hard-fought, 13-12, overtime victory over the Lehigh Mountain Hawks on Friday night in a game that felt somewhat similar to the April 23rd contest between these two squads, which Boston U. won 9-8 in regulation.

Timmy Ley (3G/3A) and Louis Perfetto (2G/3A) led the Boston U. offense while Tommy Bourque also had a hat trick, which included the game-winner.

Roy Meyer caused five turnovers and grabbed five ground balls. Matt Garber made 11 saves.

At one point it felt as if the Terriers were going to runaway with this one. After a frenetic first 23 minutes of play that saw five ties, four lead changes, and nine combined turnovers, Boston U. seemed to finally settle down and begin clicking on all cylinders.

A Matt Hillburn goal at the 7:37 mark of the second quarter sparked what became a six-goal Terriers run through the 9:16 mark of the third, which helped them to their the largest lead of the game (11-6).

That stretch featured two failed Lehigh clears as the Terriers’ 10-man ride gave them troubles all day, holding the Mountain Hawks to a 19-for-26 mark in the clearing game. Additionally, Connor Calderone went 4-for-7 (57%) at the faceoff dot during that stretch of the game to provide even more energy for the Terriers to build off of.

However, Lehigh wouldn’t stay down forever and especially so with Mike Sisselberger at the faceoff dot. The Mountain Hawks turned two consecutive faceoff wins into back to back scores within a two minute period midway through the third quarter, cutting the Boston U. lead to 11-8.

Tommy Bourque scored the final goal of the third quarter, capitalizing off a possession in which the Terriers gained off a Lehigh shot clock violation, to make it a 12-8 Boston U. lead heading into the fourth and throw a wrench in the Mountain Hawks’ run. However, it didn’t slow down Lehigh one bit.

The Mountain Hawks gained each of the first three possessions of the fourth quarter and scored on each and every one. Tommy Schelling (3G/2A) scored the first and last scores of that three-goal stint while Justin Tiernan (4G) also found the back of the net, putting home an inside look off a Christian Mule’ feed on a man-up situation.

With 3:43 left in regulation, Tiernan put home his fourth and biggest score of the day as he beat Matt Garber off a Schelling feed for what was the overtime-forcing score.

Mike Sisselberger went 18-for-28 (64%) on the day and his best came in those final 25-plus minutes of play as he won nine of the last 10 draws, giving the Mountain Hawks an extra boost of momentum when they needed it most.

Boston U. had a total of seven possessions in the fourth quarter of play and failed to convert any any of them as James Spence anchored a strong defensive effort from Lehigh. Spence made three of his 15 saves in the fourth quarter alone, which included a big stop in the final seconds of regulation as Boston U. forced the failed Lehigh clear and was able to get it back in the offensive zone, where Louis Perfetto fired home one last effort to put the game away in regulation.

In the overtime period, the same wildness ensured. After Sisselberger won the opening faceoff and Lehigh called the timeout, which was followed by a Mountain Hawks possession that ended in a Scott Cole turnover forced by Roy Meyer. Boston U. took four shots, none of which hit the cage, before the shot clock expired. Lehigh took it down and got one off.

On their second possession of the extra frame, Ryan Polley called a timeout. Out of the huddle, Timmy Ley had a shot blocked. Just seconds later, after he regathered possession, Ley found Tommy Bourque up top and wide open for the game-winner to send the Terriers to the title game.

Army West Point Comes Back, Takes Down Loyola

For the second time in a week, Brendan Nichtern put up nine points on Nickerson Field on the campus of Boston University. And both times, those performances led to an Army West Point victory. The only difference this time around it wasn’t against the Terriers, but to earn the right to play the Terriers in the Patriot League title game.

Nichtern (4G/5A) led the way for the Black Knights’ offense while Bobby Abshire (4G) also made a major impact on that end.

However, despite the impressive offensive output from their two leaders, the Black Knights had to fight from behind to earn the victory as Loyola came out of the gates as hot as they have all season. The Greyhounds went 5-0 at the faceoff dot in the first quarter and turned those possessions into goals, taking a 4-0 lead heading into the second period. Sam Shafer also made three of his 14 saves during that first frame.

Evan James scored the first two goals of the day for Loyola and ended the day with a hat trick while also dishing out an assist. Kevin Lindley had a hat trick with one of those scores coming in the first frame.

A man-up score from Reese Burek off a Danny Kielbasa feed got the Black Knights on the board just under five minutes into the second quarter. Just over three minutes later, Army had made it a one-goal game (4-3) with a score from Bobby Abshire and another one from Burek, both of which came off Nichtern feeds.

Nichtern would assist on two more Black Knight scores before the half, finding Jacob Morin twice in the final 1:08 of the second quarter to make it a 6-5 game heading into the break. Adam Poitras and Aidan Olmstead had each found the back of the net for Loyola in the quarter to keep them ahead.

Army wouldn’t take the lead until the 9:32 mark of the fourth as the Greyhounds were able to answer each of the Black Knights’ punches with one of their own. But once the Black Knights got ahead, they never trailed again.

Nichtern’s second goal of the day gave Army their first lead, 11-10, and Abshire’s fourth pushed them ahead 12-10 and extend the Black Knights’ run to three goals.

Loyola was able to tie things back up once more late in the contest as Evan James scored a wild inside shot off a Davis Lindsey feed and less than a minute later, Matt Heuston took a hard dodge from up top and sent one past Schupler for what would be the third and final tie of the game, 11-11.

Aidan Olmstead scored the final goal of the game and the Greyhounds with six seconds left, but there wasn’t enough time to force overtime.

Nichtern and Paul Johnson scored the final two goals of the game for the Black Knights, but it was their defense down the stretch that made the difference. Schupler made a crucial save with 1:02 left and on the Greyhounds’ next possession, AJ Pilate caused a turnover on Davis Lindsey to hinder any further late-game effort Loyola may have had in them.

Boston U. and Army West Point will play for the Patriot League title game on Sunday.

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