Eastern vs. Ursinus
March 31, 2012
The Game Story:
DAVIDS, Pa.- The visiting Ursinus College Bears had the ball for the first eight minutes of the game, but Eastern University Men's Lacrosse scored four times in the last six minutes of the first half and held on for a 10-9 win. Junior goalkeeper Aaron Benz made 18 saves in goal for the Eagles (6-2), who have won four in a row.

Ursinus won the first face-off, and after a very deliberate possession that included a pair of Benz saves, the visitors took a 1-0 lead on a Jake Weber goal with 10 minutes left in the first. The Bears secured the second possession of the game as well and after two minutes of pressure, Benz made another save to start the Eastern offense in motion.

The Eagles worked quickly, and after couple quick dodges down the alley, Will Johnson found Matt Wagner with a skip pass and Wagner finished low-to-low for his first of four goals on the afternoon.

Eastern won the ensuing face-off, but Matt Columbini stopped Chris Farrar's shot and started a transition opportunity for the guests. Steve Smirl finished with a low shot on the edge of the crease.

After an Ursinus turnover, Matt Soldano found a cutting Wagner on the crease to tie the game.

Ron Johnson then changed the match with a stunning individual effort. The junior midfield standout stripped an Ursinus attacker in front of his own bench, and ran sixty yards toward the front of the goal. After a quick dodge, he bounced in a shot that finished just under the crossbar.

With 18 seconds remaining in the period, Soldano made it 4-2 on another pass from Will Johnson. Benz made five saves in the first period.

Will Johnson scored from a tough angle early in the second, but the Bears answered back shortly thereafter on a powerful finish from midfield standout Jeff Ocampo. The Eagles pushed the lead back to three on a man-up goal from Grant Ferguson at the end of a 30 second penalty.

The two teams each scored again before half, and the Eagles went in to the break up 7-4. AJ Ryan won 5-of-6 face-offs in the second period to help the Eagles gain momentum.

Ursinus scored 50 seconds into the second half, and they had a man-up situation immediately following the goal. The Eastern man-down crew forced a turnover and was able to execute a clear to help the home team build more momentum.

"We did a nice job on man-down," Eastern Head Coach Kevin Wallace, who played collegiate lacrosse at Ursinus, said, "Benz was really good, but the guys in front of him did a really nice job."

The Eagles scored their second man-up goal of the afternoon on a Kyle Gillam shot that beat Jimmy Valentine, who had replaced Columbini, high. Ryan won the next face-off and the Eagles grabbed their only four-goal lead ofthe afternoon on a brilliant transition finish from Wagner on a pass from Ferguson.

Ursinus grabbed a goal back with two minutes left on their only man-up goal in six chances. Both Benz and Valentine made six saves, many of them spectacular, in the wide-open third period.

The visitiors cut the gap to 9-7 with 9:30 remaining in the game on Weber's second of the afternoon, but Will Johnson answered back less than 100 seconds later.

The three-goal edge, however, was short-lived as Ursinus pulled within two on the ensuing face-off. Steve Smyrl scored his second of three on the day on a crisp pass from Mike Alfieri.

The rest of the game consisted of the Eastern defense forcing turnovers and Benz making saves while the offense tried to keep the ball for as long as possible. The man-down unit did not allow a shot over a one-minute non-releaseble penalty with five minutes to play, and when Ursinus was able to get a shot at even strength, Benz was there for another save. He made seven fourth quarter saves to pick up his second win in as many games for the year.

Ursinus (5-5) made things interesting with a goal with 28 seconds to play, but Benz was up to the task one final time with a save of a contested shot by Smyrl right as time expired.

The win is the first of the year over an opponent from the Centennial Conference. The Eagles return to the road for a pair of good midweek games that straddle the Easter break. The Eagles are at Goucher this Wednesday and will take on Gettysburg the following Wednesday.