Sacred Heart vs. Umass
March 18, 2008
The Game Story:
FAIRFIELD, CT (March 17, 2007) - Sacred Heart built a 9-5 third quarter lead and used 13 saves, four in the fourth quarter, from senior captain Ricardo Vargas (Falls Church, VA) to hold off the UMass Minutemen, 9-7, Tuesday afternoon on Campus Field. Sacred Heart sophomore Timmy Katz (Freeport, NY) led the offense with two goals and two assists as the Pioneers beat the Minutemen for the first time in the series and improve to 4-1 on the season.

SHU (4-1) did all the scoring in the first quarter as Katz and junior Dan Casciano (Syracuse, NY) tacked on goals at 5:42 and 4:32. UMass (2-4) came out firing to start the second quarter and tied the game three and a half minutes in as Ryan Hantverk scored unassisted followed by a Peter McNichols from Bobby Hayes marker.

The Pioneers got a lift from junior Nicholas Russo (Lindenhurst, NY) who scored an unassisted man-down goal at 10:22 and then buried a sophomore Evan Morgan (Ashburn, VA) feed at 6:29 to send his team into the locker room up 4-2. The Minutemen out shot the Pioneers 25-14 in the first half but Sacred Heart held a 10-8 advantage in shots on goal.

UMass again used a quick spurt to tie the game at the start of the third quarter as McNichols found the back of the net for his second and third of the afternoon, both from Tim Balise. His first came off the second half opening face-off, scoring just 16 seconds into play. Balise found McNichols again at 13:07 to knot the game at 4-4. From there, the Pioneers ran off a 4-1 run to build their biggest lead of the day at 9-5.

Sophomore Peter Ridge (Ellicot City, MD) scored unassisted on a successful clearing run at 12:15 and Katz made a beautiful one-on-one move to score unassisted at 9:39. UMass broke up the two-goal streak with a Tim Balise score but SHU answered back with three-straight. Freshman Tim Russo (Lindenhurst, NY) buried a feed in traffic from Katz for a 7-5 lead with 3:39 left.

Morgan made it a three-goal lead a minute later unassisted and sophomore Stephen Gerhard (Centiennial, CO) scored his first of the season at 1:50 unassisted for a 9-5 lead. The Minutemen took advantage of a Pioneer penalty in the quarter's closing minute and cut it to 9-6 on a Hayes man-up goal with 21 seconds left.

The Minutemen struck quickly in the fourth as Hantverk buried an unassisted goal off the opening face-off 14 seconds in, proving to be the final goal in the game for either team. UMass got off 11 shots in the fourth in their attempt to tie but Vargas stood tall and turned away all four that came on goal, none bigger than his last with 1:40 to give the Pioneers the opportunity to run out the clock. UMass did get their much needed turnover with 46 second left but Pioneer defenseman Shawn McDonough (Carmel, NY) picked-off a pass in front of the cage and cleared the ball preserving the Pioneer win.

Sacred Heart and the University of Massachusetts have met every season since 2003 with the Minutemen winning the first five meetings coming in. This was just the second visit to Campus Field for UMass. The Minutemen got 11 saves from their goalie Doc Schneider while Joe Reale went 13-of-17 on the face-off `x' with nine ground balls.

The Pioneers were out shot 50-29 on the day but held were and even 20 to 20 in shots on goal. Katz turned in his fifth-straight multi-goal game and now leads the team with 15 goals, six assists and 21 points.

Sacred Heart will remain at home this weekend for their Colonial Athletic Association opener hosting Robert Morris on Saturday at 12 noon