Eastern vs. King's College
May 1, 2013
The Game Story:
ST. DAVIDS, Pa.- Eastern University Men's Lacrosse built a 5-0 halftime lead and held on to top King's College 12-3 to advance to Saturday's Freedom Conference Championship Game. In winning today, the top-seeded Eagles (14-2) set a new high-water mark for wins in a year and run their unbeaten streak to nine games.

The Eastern offense was good enough early, but the story of the first half was the play of Aaron Benz. The senior goalie made 12 of his career-high 20 saves in the first 30 minutes. Many of those saves were spectacular.

"Benz was amazing," head coach Kevin Wallace said after the game, " that first half could have just as easily ended at 5-3 or 5-4. Their kid [King's goalie Brendan McGrudden] played well too, but Aaron dominated the start of the game."

The Eagles scored twice in the first four minutes of the game to grab a 2-0 lead. The first goal came after a strong save from Benz at the near post. With a flag down on the field after the Eastern clear, Will Johnson wound through the King's defense along the goal-line-extended. The senior midfielder drove across the face of the goal and shot behind his head to beat McGrudden high for his first of two goals on the afternoon.

The Eagles then took advantage of the ensuing man-up chance with a brilliant low-to-high finish from Eric Waibel. The Eagles scored five times with an extra man. The Eastern man-down unit, on the other hand, was flawless. the Eagles were short-handed for four minutes int he game and did not give up a goal.

The two early goals looked good, but McGrudden and the King's defense turned away the Eagles for the remainder of the period and the result remained in question as Benz had to turn away several close-range efforts from the Monarchs.

King's won the faceoff to start the second period and after an extended possession went man-up on a cross-checking call. The Monarchs got the look they wanted on the doorstep, but Benz came up with a big save on a low shot from the edge of the crease and Andy Jameson ran the clear to kill off the rest of the penalty time.

As they did in the first half, the Eagles scored a pair of goals in close succession. Chris Farrar set up the first one. The 2013 Freedom Conference Player of the Year found Waibel cutting to the goal and fed him at four yards out. Waibel made the nice catch in traffic and went over top of McGrudden with the shot for a 3-0 lead. Thirty seconds later, Will Johnson drove into the front of the goal and found Grant Ferguson on the left wing. Ferguson fired a high shot at the near post for his first of four on the afternoon.

King's had several chances to cut into the Eastern lead, but Benz was ready in every situation. King's had its final man-up chance of the half with a 30-second opportunity with a minute to play. After the time on the penalty expired, Mark Cyron checked the ball free and Ky Allen won the ground ball to give the Eagles a chance in transition with time running down. Shawn Farmer ran the clear to the edge of the crease and was forced right by a trio of King's defenders. Farmer found Ferguson on the doorstep alone against McGrudden. Ferguson threw a series of fakes and buried his second of the day with 4.3 seconds on the clock.

The Eagles failed on their first man-up chance in the second half, and the Monarchs grabbed their first goal of the game shortly after a man-up chance ended. Lenny Fox drove down the right alley and found a low corner with 12:15 remaining in the third period.

The Eagles stretched the lead to 7-1 with two more man-up goals in the middle of the third period. Ferguson scored the first with a two-man advantage after Will Johnson drew a pair of defenders with a hard dodge down the right alley. Will Johnson made it 7-1 two minutes later on a shot from distance after a good ball reversal by Kyle Gillam.

The Monarchs had a chance with two Eastern players in the box to close the period, but the Eastern man-down unit fought off the first 34 seconds of two man-down before the period concluded, and then Brendan Stouber won a faceoff without the benefit of wings.. The senior long-stick midfielder scrambled the draw and knocked the ball off a King's player for Eastern possession to start the fourth.

Ferguson scored his team-best 49th goal of the year three minutes into the fourth period on another man-up goal. Ferguson took pass from Chris Farrar and threw a fake pass that moved the entire King's defense before ripping his fourth of the day into the near corner.

King's got a goal back on a strange play. Max Malloy shot a ball across the face of the goal that was going wide. Farmer had collapsed down toward his goal and reached into the crease to collect the ball. The ball caromed into the goal to close the Eastern lead to 8-2. Farmer found redemption just seconds later after AJ Ryan won the following faceoff. Ryan found Ivy at the edge of the crease and Ivy found Farmer charging toward goal. Farmer fired home his third goal of the year for a 9-2 lead with just under 11 minutes to play.

Moments later, Andy Jameson made it 10-2 with a nice finish on a drive downy he right alley. Farrar made it 11-2 after a hit to the head put the Eagles on another man-up chance.

The Eagles were perfect in the clearing game through the first 55 minutes of the game, but a blown clear out of a King's timeout led to an empty net chance for King's attackman Mike O'Brien. O'Brien batted home his 26th goal of the year.

Andrew Travers closed out the scoring with a goal just prior to the implementation of a stall call in the final two minutes.

McGrudden finished with 15 saves for the Monarchs. King's, with a 10-4 mark, will have a winning record at the end of the year for the first time in program history.

The Eagles will play the winner of tonight's game between DeSales and Misericordia on Saturday at 1:00 pm for a Freedom Conference Championship. The Freedom Conference does not have an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, but the Eagles hope to strengthen their Pool B resume with a Freedom Conference Championship and a fifteen-win season.