Wagner vs. Mercer
March 9, 2013
The Game Story:
Staten Island, NY – Senior midfielder Colin O'Rourke (Worcester, MA/ St. John’s Shrewsbury) scored a career-high five-goals, while assisting on another, and Wagner led 11-10 before Mercer converted two goals in the final 4:10 of the game to pull out a 12-11 win in an exciting, physical contest at Hameline Field.

In a wildly-entertaining game that featured eight ties and eight lead changes, the teams took a 83 shots combined, collected a combined 66 ground balls while also combining to commit 14 turnovers, seven for each side.

With the defeat, the much-improved Seahawks have now dropped three games by five goals or less in seeing their fall to 0-5 while Mercer improves to 3-2 on the season. The two teams had faced one common opponent coming into the game, with Mercer handing Saint Joseph’s a 10-9 defeat on March 6 while the Seahawks lost to the Hawks by a count of 10-5 on March 5. Both of these games were played in Philadelphia.

With today’s game pushed back an hour to a 2:00 pm start, to provide grounds crew personnel additional time to ready the playing surface, following yesterday’s snowfall, the teams battled to an early 2-2 tie before O’Rourke put on a dazzling scoring spree. The 6-1, 185-pounder , who had already the game’s first goal 3:38 into the first quarter, unleashed three unassisted goals, in a 3:18 span bridging the first and second quarters, to spark the Seahawks to a 5-2 lead.

The first of O’Rourke’s three-goal explosion came on a blast with 1:17 left in the opening quarter to make it 3-2. At the 13:53 mark of the second quarter, he notched another goal before capping his one-man rally with yet another unassisted tally at 10:59 to make it a 5-2 game. Just 18:01 into the contest, O’Rourke already had four goals of his own on the board.

The Bears answered with a three-goal run of their own to tie the game at 5-5 with 7:31 to go in the half. An extra-man goal by freshman attackman Griffen Leclaire (White Rock, BC/ Hill Academy) was answered by a Zack Ward goal which made it a 6-6 game. Then, with 1:18 left in the half, senior midfielder Nick DePhillips (Glen Ridge, NJ/ Glen Ridge/ Ohio St.) sank an unassisted goal to lift Wagner to a 7-6 halftime lead.

The second half was a nip-and-tuck affair as the team’s were only separated by more than one goal on one occasion, highlighted by a frantic third quarter that saw both teams come away with four goals. With the game tied 7-7, O’Rourke tallied his fifth goal of the game with 13:25 left to play in the third quarter, another unassisted tally. Then, 1:03 later, O’Rourke came up with a big assist, feeding senior attackman Brian Faughnan (New Canaan, CT/ New Canaan), who blasted home a shot from the right wing to put Wagner in front 9-7 at the 12:42 mark of the third.

Mercer again answered, this time on consecutive goals by Harry Baker and Chris Baxter, the latter, which came on a Baker assist that knotted the game at 9-9 with 5:34 to go in the third. Wagner, playing with a sense of purpose and determination, regained the lead at 10-9 the 4:18 juncture of the third as Leclaire found an open DePhillips, who buried the shot, sending the Wagner fans into a frenzy.

Mercer’s John Avent created the seventh tie of the game 1:02 later off an Eoin Collins assist to forge the game’s sixth tie, this one at 10-10 with 3:18 to go in the third quarter. Leclaire then capped the wild and wooly third quarter at the 2:31 mark to give Wagner an 11-10 lead heading into quarter number four.

Unlike the goal-happy third quarter, the game’s final quarter was more defensive-minded as Wagner held that 11-10 lead for more than 14 minutes before the combination of Baker to Baxter struck again, teaming up at the 4:10 mark to create the seventh and final tie of the game at 11-11. Then, with 3:07 to go, Collins proved what would be the game-winner, sinking the go-ahead goal and the Bears’ defense held on for the 12-11 win.

DePhillips added two goals on the game for Wagner while Baxa paced Mercer with four goals. Mike Nugent made 12 saves in goal for the Bears while junior Nicholas Gibaldi (Rocky Point, NY/ Rocky Point) came up with 14 saves for the Seahawks.

Mercer held a sleight 44-39 edge in shots but held sizeable advantages in faceoffs, winning 20-of-27, and ground balls where they led 42-22. Wagner was a fine 4-of-7 on extra-man opportunities while the Seahawk man-down defense was magnificent, as the Bears were 0-of-7 on EMOs.

With Wagner now on spring break, the Seahawks are next in action on Tuesday, March 12 when they play host to VMI with faceoff set for 1:00 pm.