Merrimack vs. Bentley
May 1, 2009
The Game Story:
NORTH ANDOVER, MA – Bryan MacPhie scored three times leading the fourth-ranked Merrimack men’s lacrosse team back to its first conference championship since 2006 with a 9-6 win over #8 Bentley Friday afternoon at Warrior Field.

The Warriors (14-1) will battle top-ranked and unbeaten Le Moyne College Sunday (time TBA) in Syracuse, NY for the Northeast-10 Championship. The Dolphins routed Saint Anselm 16-2 in the other semifinal Saturday.

Merrimack last won a conference title in 2000, defeating Le Moyne 12-7. Since that game, the Dolphins won seven straight NE-10 Championships, before Bryant upended them last season 5-4.

Merrimack got contributions from everyone in its lineup, including Shane Mahar and Nick Maggio, who scored their first goals of the season.

Michael Balbuena gave the Warriors the early 1-0 lead with his 29th goal just 1:39 into the game. Jo Pisano made it 2-0 4:07 later with his 23rd of the year, unassisted. After the Falcons cut the led in half, faceoff specialist Maggio controlled in the ensuing draw and sprinted right down the field, beating Falcon goaltender Kris Dambach for his first collegiate goal at 10:30 of the first.

The Warriors controlled the first quarter, leading 3-1 while outshooting Bentley 16-6. Maggio won all five first-quarter draws.

Two second-quarter goals from MacPhie and another from Taylor Robarts gave the hosts the 6-3 lead at halftime. Merrimack again controlled the field, holding a 30-11 shot advantage at halftime.

Mahar and Greg Rogowski scored 4:36 apart in the third to give the Warriors a comfortable 8-3 lead, but the Falcons didn’t quit, scoring three unanswered goals to cut the lead to two at 8-6 with 11:38 remaining in regulation.

But MacPhie responded, answering back 1:25 later with his third of the game, 27th of the season, to push the lead back to three goals.

That was all the Warriors needed, as the Falcons took a pair of penalties down the stretch, while the Merrimack defense forced four fourth-quarter turnovers to seal the win, the Warriors’ sixth straight victory.

Maggio dominated the “X”, winning 16 of 19 face-offs, while Cory Spinale stopped 16 shots in goal, including seven in the third quarter. Rogowski finished with a goal and an assist to go with eight shots.

Brad Tunis and Kevin Gould each scored twice for the Falcons, who finish the season with a 9-4 record. Dambach stopped 12 shots in net and totaled nine groundballs.

The only blemish thus far on Merrimack’s season was 6-5 loss to top-ranked Le Moyne at Warrior Field on April 11.