Saint Lawrence vs. Rpi
May 7, 2006
The Game Story:
May 7: It took nineteen years, but the St. Lawrence University Saints are headed back to the NCAA Men's Lacrosse Tournament. The No. 1 seed in the Liberty League Tournament held off a resilient Rensselaer team in the championship game by the score of 12-9, earning the conference's automatic bid into the 2006 NCAA Championship.

The Saints (13-3, 6-0) found themselves down early to the Red Hawks, who upended Hamilton in overtime on Friday to have the opportunity to play in the Liberty League title game. RPI came out and forced St. Lawrence to play at their tempo, which helped the visitors get out to an early 2-0 lead. Josh Secora scored 3:57 into the game to put RPI ahead, and teammate Adam LoGiudice put the No. 2 seed up 2-0 to end the opening quarter and put the Saints on their heels.

Although the Saints had some quality chances on the offensive end, Rensselaer netminder John Thibdeau was rock solid and kept the Saints off the score board in the early going. His play allowed RPI to continue to put pressure on the Saints, and it led to two more goals from PJ McComb and Alex MacDiarmid to extend the visitor's lead to 4-0.

The Saints would finally tally their opening goal with 5:57 to play in the first half when junior Nick Mastine scored a man up goal to close the gap to 4-1. Sophomore attack Ben Prime was not far behind, as he tried to get the Saints some momentum, scoring only 1:15 after Mastine to make the score 4-2. However, the Red Hawks would reassert themselves and McComb scored with 2:09 on the clock to complete the first half scoring and give RPI a 5-2 cushion heading into halftime.

With their backs against the wall, the Saints responded in the third quarter, scoring four goals while holding RPI to one goal to even the score at 6-6 headed into the final quarter. Freshman Peter Carroll scored just over a minute into the half, followed by Mastine's second of the afternoon to bring St. Lawrence to within a goal at 5-4. After RPI netted their sixth goal of the game (MacDiarmid), the Saints got goals from rookies Tyler Moore and Carroll in the final five minutes to even the score and set the stage for a fantastic finish at North Country Field.

With the score finally tied for the first time since the game started, St. Lawrence turned to their leaders to make plays down the stretch. Tri-captain Andy Centauro was the first to respond. The Sudbury, MA native, who entered the fourth quarter with two assists in the game, scored back-to-back goals to open the fourth quarter and give the Saints an 8-6 lead. Centauro would then find Moore, who notched his second man-up goal of the afternoon at the ten minute mark to put St. Lawrence ahead 9-6.

It appeared the Saints had locked up the Liberty League title three minutes later, as Prime scored with 8:00 remaining, followed by sophomore Ben Buskey tallying his first goal of the season with only 7:43 to play to put the Saints up 11-6. Rensselaer refused to go away though, and in a dramatic momentum swing, scored three goals in a 1:41 span to quickly close the gap to 11-9 with 5:49 to play in regulation.

Freshman PJ Santora won a key face-off for the Saints, who then maintained control in the offensive end as precious time ran off the clock. Having to press, the Red Hawks aggressively went after the ball, but took two untimely penalties in the final 1:24 of regulation that would end their hopes of a come back. Centauro would put the finishing touches of a six-point effort with his third goal of the day with 26 seconds remaining to seal the victory.

With the clock ticking down to zero, the Saints erupted on to the field as head coach Mike Mahoney was doused with gatorade on the sideline. The Liberty League Championship plaque was awarded to the

St. Lawrence seniors and captains, who will represent the university in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1987. The NCAA Men's Lacrosse seedings will be released on CSTV this evening, with the tournament beginning on Wednesday.