Keene State vs. Us Merchant Marine
May 9, 2007
The Game Story:
KEENE, N.H. 5/9/07 - Sophomore attack Tony Santa Fe (Derry, N.H.) netted four goals and junior goalie Matt Johnson (Derry, N.H.) set an Owl record with 23 saves to lead the Keene State College men's lacrosse team to a 14-11 victory over U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in a first-round NCAA Division III tournament game played at Owl Athletic Complex on Wednesday afternoon.

Getting the program's first NCAA win and advancing to the second-round for the first time, #17 Keene State (16-0) will travel to Springfield on Saturday to face #3 Western New England College (16-0) on Saturday (TBA) for a battle of nationally ranked unbeaten teams. KSC also becomes the first Little East team to reach the second-round.

Ryan Hazelton (Chester, N.H.) scored three goals and Sean Panora (South Windsor, Conn.), Casey Brodersen (Derry, N.H.) and Mike Fontaine (Wolfeboro, N.H.) finished with two goals each. Peter Lauranzano (Beverly, Mass.) and Panora also chipped in with two assists a piece.

Johnson had an incredible game for the Owls, especially in the first quarter as the Owls jumped out to a 5-1 lead. Taking a 2-0 lead on goals by Fontaine and Hazelton, Johnson made a point-blank save off the Mariners Brian Flannery. After an unassisted goal by Brodersen put the Owls up 3-0, Johnson stopped another close-range shot off the stick of Brett Daniels.

"My head was in the game and I just wanted to stop the ball from going into the net," said Johnson.

"We needed some time to get going and Matt gave us a chance," said Hazelton. "It was the best game of his life."

If it wasn't for Matt, we probably would've have lost,"said KSC Coach Mark Theriault. "He was unbelievable."

Santa Fe scored the first of his four goals and Taylor Morasutti (Cheshire, Conn.) found the back of the net to complete the first half scoring.

Both teams traded goals in the second quarter as KSC held a 7-3 halftime advantage.

The Owls increased their lead to 9-3 early in the third quarter on goals by Hazelton and Santa Fe. Merchant Marine (13-4) made thing interesting by scoring four quick goals in a span of two and a half minutes to cut KSC's lead to 9-7. Santa Fe scored on a delayed penalty to put KSC up 10-7 after three quarters.

"In lacrosse you expect teams to make a run," said Hazelton. We got a little tired and lost a few face off, but pulled back like a championship team and put the ball in the net."

With Johnson in the penalty box, USMMA closed the gap to 10-8, early in the fourth quarter, but KSC answered with the next three goals and held on for the win.

"It was a roller coaster game, "added Mark Theriault. "We had a breakdown, but we were able to refocus and get back to what was working for us."

Sean Dougherty had three goals and John Pagano finished the game with 12 saves for the Mariners, who were making their first NCAA appearance.

"To get our first NCAA win and play Western New England is going to be great" Theriault added. "Everyone is fired up for the game."