Vmi vs. Jacksonville
April 6, 2013
The Game Story:
LEXINGTON, Va. -- The Virginia Military Institute men’s lacrosse team gave one of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference’s top teams all it handle Saturday afternoon, but a five third-quarter by Jacksonville University cooled off a rally-oriented Keydet squad at Drill Field #2.

Down by multiple goals several times in the first half of the game, which was just the second at home for VMI this season, the Keydets rallied to tie game on two occasions, including 5-5 at halftime. But the Dolphins, who improved to 4-0 in MAAC play and 6-3 overall, posted five goals in the third quarter, while VMI had just one, to break the game open.

“I was really happy to fight to get this thing tied back at 5-5 entering the half and they (Jacksonville) capitalized on a couple of our turnover mistakes and hit us for two good transition goals in the third and put us back in the hole we had to fight back out of,” said VMI head coach Brian Anken, now in his third season at the Institute.

The Keydets were paced on offense by senior Russell East, who tagged his fifth career hat trick. East was crucial to VMI’s comeback bid, striking on back-to-back goals in transition midway through the fourth quarter to make it a three goal game, 11-8.

Junior Bernie Mowbray put up a pair of goals while Mike DeBlasio, Gage Snowbarger and Brad Biondello scored once each. DeBlasio wrapped up a two-point day with an assist late in the first quarter. Anthony Mordaga was VMI’s leading assister with a pair while Will Baker kicked in a helper as well.

Jacksonville was led offensively by Ari Waffle and Cameron Mann, each of whom scored three goals. Kyle Rebman and Rob Wertz chipped in two each as Will Crenshaw, Dakota Rohlin and Brian Kensil each tallied one marker. James Trentini had a three-assist day to lead the game while David Goldman matched Mordaga’s pair. Mann, Rebman and Waffle all contributed one assist each.

It was another monster day for senior goalkeeper Matt Lindemann, who made 19 saves, the third-most saves he’s made in a game this season. With that total, Lindemann has made 296 career saves, ranking him ninth all-time in program history. Late in the game, Lindemann made a flurry of saves to help keep VMI within striking distance.

On the other end of the field, Jacksonville was anchored by 15 saves from its goalkeeper, Pete DeLuca, including seven in the fourth quarter.

VMI had one of its best defensive outings of the season, holding Jacksonville to 13 goals, two of which came in the final 1:10 of regulation. The Keydet backers were led by sophomore Tyler Prasnicki, who returned after missing last weekend’s game with an upper body injury. The Rockbridge County High School product forced five Dolphin turnovers, leading VMI to 14 caused turnovers as a team.

“There is no doubt in the difference he makes on defense immediately,” said Anken of his starting defenseman. “Five caused turnovers, multiple groundballs and the communication piece he brings to the rest of the defensemen it elevates their level of play just having him on the field.”

In the clearing aspect of the game, VMI had its finest outing of the year, gaining the offensive zone 27 times against 28 attempts. Jacksonville went 26 of 29 for the game. For the first time since Feb. 2, a span of six games, the Keydets out-groundballed an opponent, albeit by a narrow 36-35 margin. Four different VMI players had four groundballs, with starters DeBlasio and Lindemann joined by Drew Epps and Will Baker off the bench each grabbing four.

VMI was efficient on the extra-man during the second-ever varsity game at Drill Field #2. The Keydets went three-for-six with the man advantage, scoring all three in the first half on four chances. The first two extra-man goals helped VMI eliminate a 3-0 deficit as Snowbarger and Mowbray banged home goals. DeBlasio tallied VMI’s third during the second quarter.

Conversely, VMI was highly disciplined and had just one penalty the entire game as Taylor Jenkins was whistled for a slash. Jacksonville took advantage seven seconds into the penalty kill to take a 3-0 lead on Waffle’s first of the day.

“You coach at VMI and you just assume that the discipline will be there, but just like everything else, you have to practice it,” said Anken of his team, which has served the fewest penalty minutes in the MAAC in 2013.

During the second quarter, Jackson pulled out to a 5-3 lead with Rebman’s first at 13:12 of the period, but VMI rallied as Biondello netted the first goal of his career, followed by DeBlasio’s man-up strike. The teams went into halftime knotted at 5-5.

Jacksonville opened the third quarter with a trip of unanswered shots from three different sources as Wertz, Waggle and Crenshaw each tallied markers. East broke up the run with his first of the day at 4:51 in the third, and proved to be the only time in the game that a team would not score at least two consecutive goals. The East tally cut the game to an 8-6 Dolphin advantage, but Jacksonville scored another two goals in the third to gain a 10-6 advantage.

In the fourth, Mann scored his first of two in the quarter with 9:40 remaining to give Jacksonville its largest lead of the game, 11-6. Down but not out, VMI looked to one of its captains, East. The senior answered the call and tallied back-to-back goals at 6:14 and 5:09 in the fourth to make it a three goal game once more.

But the Dolphins got tallies from Waffle at 1:10 and Mann with 45 seconds left, both with assists from Trentini, to ice the game.

Saturday’s game was a preview of next season when both VMI and Jacksonville move their lacrosse teams to the Atlantic Sun. VMI will be an associate member of the A-Sun while Jacksonville is a full-time member of the league.

The Keydets return to Drill Field #2 to take on another future Atlantic Sun team, Mercer University. Game time is slated for noon and will serve as VMI’s designated Wounded Warrior Project day.

“The Wounded Warrior Project game always takes center stage over the game itself to an extent,” said Anken, who will be coaching his third Wounded Warrior Project game at VMI, during which his team has raised nearly $12,000 towards the Project. “It’s such a great cause that we love playing for and its something that we take a lot of pride in. Playing the Wounded Warrior game at Drill Field #2 will mean a lot for us as a program.”

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