Vmi vs. Robert Morris
March 10, 2006
The Game Story:
LEXINGTON, Va. -- The VMI lacrosse team came out strong early by scoring the first three goals of the game, and held off a Robert Morris run in the third period to come away with the 9-6 victory on Friday at Patchin Field. Will Collier (Centreville, Va./Woodberry Forest) erupted for three goals while fellow attackman Robert Trimble (Oak Hill, Va./Oakton) added a goal and three assists as the Keydets pick up their first win of the season.

"It's certainly a great relief to get the first one (win of the season), said head coach Doug Bartlett. "The kids worked very hard this week, and were more focused then I've seen them all year. It's great for them to get the reward for their efforts."

The Keydets jumped out early on the Colonials when senior middie Tony Cavalero (Annandale, Va./Annandale) beat his defender and fired a shot that slipped past Robert Morris goalie Jason Dockum. The goal was Cavalero's first on the season.

The Keydets didn't let up though, and converted on a pair of unassisted goals by Steve Long (Drexel Hill, Pa./Cardinal O'Hara) and Matt Turner (Franklin, Tenn./Centennial) just 21 seconds apart to gain an early 3-0 lead. Colonial's sophomore middie Andrew Wyatt managed to end the Keydets run, however, as he converted a feed from Lee Davis for the man-up goal.

After a Robert Morris score that would bring them within a goal of the Keydets, VMI rattled off three straight goals to round out the scoring in the first half. Senior's Joe Picariello (Sandwich, Mass./Sandwich), Collier, and Robert Trimble found the back of the net giving the Keydets a 6-2 lead at intermission.

The run for the Keydets in the second came by virtue of correcting mistakes that had hurt them early this year, mainly ground balls and clearing opportunities. In the second frame, the Keydets went 6-6 on clearing opportunities and scooped up 11 ground balls to the Colonials' four.

"I was telling them all week, ground balls will win you games," added Bartlett, who had his team yelling out "ground balls" even before they left the locker room. "We won both those battles today and came out on top because of it."

Robert Morris came storming back in the third period, taking advantage of four straight VMI penalties by netting three goals. Suddenly, with just over eight minutes remaining in the third period, the Colonials were now within two goals at 6-4.

This is when the Keydet defense picked up its game. The solid back line of Patrick Zanelotti (Chantilly, Va./Paul VI), Lee Cook (Centreville, Md./St. Mary's) and Curtis Jaques (Flemington, N.J./Hunterdon Central) began to really pressure the ball, and improved its close defense. The unit would allow just one more goal in the remaining 23 minutes of the game.

"I was very proud of the way our defense played, particularly in the second half," said Bartlett. "They made it dificult for them to get good shots, and they finished strong."

VMI would add a pair of goals from Collier and sophomore Matt Harrison (Great Mills, MD/St. Mary's Ryken) to seal the victory, and gain a little momentum heading into conference play next week.

"This was huge to get some momentum going heading into conference play next week," said Bartlett. "We just need to continue playing well and be prepared for each game."

Also stepping up with his best outing of the year was goalie Dan Frank (Bel Air, Md./C. Milton Wright), who allowed a season-low six goals and grabbed seven saves in the process for his first win of the season.

As mentioned, the Keydets will open conference play next weekend as they host Canisius College (1-2) on Saturday, March 18 at Patchin Field. Game time is set for 12:00 p.m.