ASUN Tournament: Utah, Air Force Advance to Title Game

(Photo Courtesy of Utah Athletics)

In a game that saw things knotted up 10 different times, the No. 1 seed Utah Utes (11-4, 9-0 ASUN) got past the No. 4 seed Bellarmine Knights (11-6, 5-4 ASUN) 17-14 to advance to the ASUN title game on Sunday.

It marks the second year in a row in which the Utes have ended Bellarmine’s season. Utah won a 12-11 overtime game against the Knights in the ASUN semifinals in 2022.

Tyler Bradbury (3G/2A), who left the game late with an injury, led the way for the Utes with five points. Ryan Stines and Koa Todd each had hat tricks while Carson Moyer had three points off two goals and one assist.

Cole Brams went 22-for-33 (66%) at the faceoff dot. He was especially good in the first (7-for-7) and fourth quarters (9-for-13, 69%).

Colin Lenskold made nine saves in cage to anchor the Utah defense. Five of those saves came during the third quarter as he was faced 12 shots (eight on cage) during that frame.

Utah outshot Bellarime 54-33 and put 30 of their shots on cage. The Knights put 23 of their shots on goal. Utah also won the ground ball battle 40-21 and had an edge in the turnover department with the Utes committing 11 to the Knights’ 18. Utah caused six of Bellarmine’s turnovers with three coming in the first quarter.

Christian DellaRocco got Bellarmine on the board at the 4:22 mark of the first quarter and would score again on the next Knights possession to pull the Knights within 3-2 and finally answer a Utah squad that had seemingly held all the momentum to that point.

Utah would answer with a Koa Todd score to make it a 4-2 Utes lead at the end of the first quarter. Bellarmine, however, would see three more instances throughout the game where it scored consecutive goals Tayo Oladunmoye and Benny O’Rourk put home two early in the second quarter. Later in the frame, Oladunmoye would find the back of the net again and Christian DellaRocco would follow to give himself a hat trick. Both of those spurts tied things up as the Knights made it a 4-4 game early in the second and a 6-6 game at the half.

A pair of goals from Justin Westcoat and Benny O’Rourk gave the Knights their first lead of the game, 8-7, with 5:54 left in the third quarter. They pulled ahead again, 11-10, with 11:55 remaining as Kyle Playsted broke through for a pair of consecutive scores. The latter of those strikes came off a faceoff win from Grant Guthrie. Goals from Pat Anderson and Jesse Roth would keep the Knights in front by one late. However, after Roth’s score to make it a 13-12 game with 7:35 remaining it would be all Utah.

Koa Todd netted himself a hat trick with 6:53 left and Cole Brams won the ensuing faceoff and took it in for the score to give Utah the 14-13 lead. It was Utah’s first lead since end of the third quarter. Carson Moyer, Jordan Hyde, and Ryan Rogers all added scores down the stretch to help Utah end the game on a 5-1 and secure the three-goal victory.

In those final six minutes and change, Utah dominated possession. Bellarmine had just two settled possessions during that time and got just two shots off; one of which did go in for a John Alie goal.

Utah had started the contest in similar fashion with Cole Brams winning each of the first four faceoffs and the Utes pulling ahead 3-0 off goals from Tyler Bradbury, MJ McMahon, and Jordan Hyde. In those first 10 minutes and change, Bellarmine committed four turnovers (three caused) and got just two shots off.

Bellarmine was led by Christian DellaRocco (3G/!A) and Tayo Oladunmoye (3G) on offense. JC Higginbotham made 13 saves in cage.

Utah will advance to play No. 2 seed Air Force in the ASUN championship game on Sunday at 1:00pm ET.

Air Force Downs Robert Morris

No. 2 seed Air Force (11-5, 7-2 ASUN) took down the No. 6 seed Robert Morris Colonials (8-8, 4-5 ASUN) 12-4 to advance to the ASUN title game on Sunday.

The Falcons had just beaten the Colonials 13-5 last week in the final regular season game for both squads. Robert Morris, however, beat Air Force 9-7 in the ASUN semifinals last spring.

Brandon Dodd had four points off two goals and two assists to lead the Falcons. Luke Vrsansky and Ethan Grandolfo each had hat tricks on the day.

Jason Rose made 19 saves to anchor an Air Force defense that allowed just one goal in each of the four quarters. Rose made eight of those saves in the third quarter alone.

Robert Morris saw Steven Dellemonache do 10-for-17 (58%) at the dot. He also grabbed eight ground balls as the Colonials won that battle 25-19. Nate Randall made 15 saves in cage. While the pair headlined the day with their performances, the Colonials were unable to capitalize. Robert Morris went 4-for-34 shooting and 16-for-20 in the clearing game.

It was a failed clear that lead to a Brandon Dodd score off a Luke Vrsansky feed to make it a 3-1 game with 13 seconds left in the opening frame. That Dodd score was the second of an eventual three goal tun that pulled the Falcons ahead 4-1 following a Vesansky goal early in the second quarter.

Air Force pulled away during the middle of the contest with a four-goal run that spanned from late in the second through early in the third and put the Falcons up 8-2. The run was bookended with Matt Rubinio scores while Brandon Dodd and Gavin Peene each found the back of the net during the nearly seven minute stretch. Ethan Grandolfo found the back of the net three consecutive times from the 9:41 mark in the third through the 4:11 mark of the fourth to give himself a natural hat trick and help put this contest away as the Falcons came out of that stretch up 11-3.

Air Force moves to play No. 1 seed Utah in the ASUN championship game on Sunday at 1:00pm ET.


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