Vmi vs. Canisius
March 18, 2006
The Game Story:
LEXINGTON, Va. -- It was a typical MAAC conference game with plenty of offense from both teams on Saturday at Patchin Field. The Keydets (1-4/0-1 MAAC) outshot Canisius 44-25 in the game, but Canisius (2-4/1-0 MAAC) connected on a few more as they took an 11-9 decision to open conference play. Trailing by five heading into the fourth period, the Keydets made a feverish push in the final session, but the rally came up a few goals short as the VMI drops its first home conference opener.

"We gave one away today," said head coach Doug Bartlett after the game. "We came out strong today, and executed what we wanted to do for the most part, but just didn't take advantage of the opportunities we had."

The Keydets came out in the opening minutes of the game with a philosophy in mind, one of which was to increase their shot total. In the previous four games, the Keydets were outshot by a total of 156-81. The team responded to their coaching, and went on to outshoot the Griffs 10-4 in the opening period and jump out to an early 3-1 lead.

"These kids are doing exactly what we ask them," added Bartlett, whose team finished with a season-best 44 shots. "We have asked them to fix things every game, and they've done it every time. We did, however, miss some good scoring chances in the period, I thought we had a chance to be up by four or five early."

The early VMI lead came courtesy of an unassisted goal by sophomore Kevin Hill (Rockville Centre, N.Y./South Side), as well as scores by Tony Cavalero (Annandale, Va./Annandale) and Robert Trimble (Oak Hill, Va./Oakton). David Trimble (Oak Hill, Va./Oakton) fed Cavalero on the first goal and Steve Long (Drexel Hill, Pa./Cardinal O'Hara) set up Robert Trimble on his score with his team-high seventh assist.

The Griffs would respond, however, by tallying five of the final seven goals in the opening half. Canisius freshman attackman Doug Freidman netted the most devastating goal for the Griffs, as he converted a man-down score with just over four minutes remaining.

"That was the biggest indicator of what they do best," said Bartlett. "Canisius is a very good transition team, and they showed it with that goal."

Will Collier (Centreville, Va./Woodberry Forest) was able to put a halt to Canisius' run by finishing a Kevin Hill feed for a man-up goal just 22 seconds later. The goal put the Keydets within one at 6-5 heading into intermission.

Canisius picked back up in the third period as they connected for three straight goals to extend their lead to 9-5. The two teams traded scores in the next few minutes, but Canisus' Kevin Ross beat VMI goalie Dan Frank (Bel Air, Md./C. Milton Wright) for his second goal of the day, and gave the Griffs an 11-6 lead with 13 minutes to play.

But as they have done all season, the Keydets responded with three straight goals. Long capitalized on a feed from Collier at the 12-minute mark to pull the Keydets within four. Later in the period, Robert Trimble would find brother David in front of the net for long score, and Robert would soon after convert his own score as he was being pulled to the ground. The goal was Trimble's tenth of the season.

"Our guys showed once again that being down a few goals doesn't faze them," said Bartlett. "They fought back well at the end. I keep saying it, but there is no quit in these guys."

The rally came up short, though, as Canisius was able to control the ball for this final two minutes and change to hold on for their second win of the season, and first in conference play.

Frank finished the day in the cage for VMI with seven saves, including a few key grabs in the fourth. Canisius goalie Tom Kucharczak came up with several timely stops, and finished with 13 saves for his second win of the year.

VMI held the advantage in most categories for the game except the scoreboard. As mentioned, the Keydets outshot the Griffs by a 44-25 margin, and converted 13-14 clears. VMI also won the ground ball war, scooping up 39 to the Griffs' 26.

The Keydets must shake this one off and get ready for next weekend, as they host MAAC pre-season favorite Marist College on Saturday, March 25 at 12:00 p.m. at Patchin Field. And while the Keydets lost a tough one today, they know they can be very competitive in the MAAC this year.

"We feel like we can match-up well with every team we play this year," commented Bartlett. "This conference is very competitive, and we just need to keep improving to be one of the final four teams at the end of the year."