Gettysburg vs. Ithaca
May 16, 2007
The Game Story:
GETTYSBURG, Pa. – No. 8 Ithaca got off to a fast start, scoring twice in the game’s first two minutes, but by the time the Bombers scored again nearly 30 minutes later, No. 2 Gettysburg had scored 10 straight goals en route to an 11-5 victory in NCAA Division III quarterfinal action at Shirk Field at Musselman Stadium on Wednesday afternoon. The Bullets punched their first ticket to the national semifinals since playing in the national title game in 2001 and 2002.

Gettysburg (16-2) senior midfielder Andrew Mavraganis (Lancaster, Pa./Hempfield) and junior midfielder Ben Sufrin (Mahopac, N.Y./Mahopac) each tallied hat tricks to pace the Gettysburg offense. For Mavraganis, the three goals represent a career high. Sufrin has scored at least three goals three times in the last four games.

In goal, senior Pat Vaughan (Cockeysville, Md./Loyola Blakefield) made 10 saves to go along with six ground balls and three caused turnovers. The ground balls and caused turnovers tied for the game highs. He now has 717 career saves, leaving him three shy of third place on the Centennial Conference career list.

Ithaca (16-4) junior midfielder Craig Lepiane led the Bombers with a pair of goals. Classmate Kevin Bush tacked on two assists. Senior goalie Dennis Butler capped his career with a strong performance, making 17 saves on 36 Gettysburg shots.

The Bullets statistically dominated the first quarter, outshooting Ithaca by five and picking up eight ground balls to three. The home team also turned the ball over just 13 times for the game, while taking advantage of 24 Bomber miscues.

Junior attackman Matt Nelligan got things started just 1:10 into the contest. He converted a falling wrap-around at the right post while being hounded by a Gettysburg defender. It was just 49 seconds later that Lepiane scored for the first time on a double-clutch goal giving his team a 2-0 lead with 13:01 remaining in the first quarter.

It took the Bullets less than two minutes to respond on Sufrin’s first goal. He fired a 15-yard shot inside the left post at the 11:06 mark. That kicked off the 10-0 Gettysburg run. The first six of those goals were scored in a span of 11:28, all six by a different scorer.

With 4:12 to play in the first, sophomore attackman Zach Pucci (Ridgewood, N.J./Ridgewood) collected the ball behind the cage as freshman attackman Joe Brody (Bethesda, Md./Walter Johnson) crept toward the crease in front. Pucci zipped a high pass just over Butler’s stick to a leaping Brody, who caught it and shot in one motion to give Gettysburg the lead for good at 3-2.

Junior attackman Trip Dyer (Ocean View, Del./Worcester Prep [Md.]) closed out the first-quarter scoring with 2:05 left. He collected a ground ball in a scrum deep in the left corner of the field. He faked a pass that bought just enough to escape along the end line and break toward the goal. He rolled around toward the right post, crossed over his defender and freed himself for the goal, giving his team a 5-2 lead.

In the second quarter, the team’s changed ends, but that did not change Gettysburg’s fortunes. Senior midfielder Ted Leonard (Wallingford, Pa./Strath Haven) scored just 22 seconds in for the eventual game winner. The Bullets continued to score, seemingly at will, until Mavraganis completed his hat trick with 47 seconds to go before halftime.

Coming out after the break, Ithaca ended the Bullets’ run with two goals in a 5:13 span to cut the lead to 10-4, which is how the third quarter ended. Sophomore attackman Tim Pfeffer and sophomore midfielder Mike Giunta each converted a pass from Bush.

The Bombers got an opportunity to get back into the game midway through the fourth quarter when Gettysburg was hit with an unreleasable three-minute penalty for an illegal cross. Lepiane ripped a shot that Vaughan got a piece of, but it trickled across the goal line to make it 10-5 with 6:14 to go. The Ithaca man-up unit was stymied from there, and Sufrin added an unassisted strike with 4:05 remaining to set the final score.

Gettysburg will make its third appearance in the NCAA semifinals this weekend when the Bullets travel to Salisbury, Md., to take on top-ranked Salisbury at Sea Gull Stadium. The opening faceoff is set for 1 p.m. This will mark the seventh time the two teams have met in the NCAA tournament, and it will be the ninth consecutive year that one of the two has represented the South Region in the NCAA championship game.