Williams vs. Colby
March 13, 2010
The Game Story:
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. - Williams men’s lacrosse pulled out a 7-6 victory over Colby this afternoon to open its season. The Ephs claimed the victory behind stellar play in goal from Stephen Vrla, who had 11 saves in the game, and great work in the attack from Matt Cranshaw, who had 2 goals, 2 assists, and four ground balls. Co-captain Andrew D’Ambrosio helped lead the Eph defense with 3 ground balls.

Colby jumped out to a 2-0 lead 7:27 into the first period behind goals from Greg McKillop and Stew Brown. Tim Goggins was able to respond for Williams with 3:06 remaining in the quarter, as he picked up a rebound he just outside the crease off a shot from Matt Cranshaw and fired it past Colby netminder Tom Gianakos, cutting the Mules lead to 2-1.

No team scored the rest of the first, but 1:41 into the second Sam Hargrove was able to cut through the Mules’ defense and hit the top corner to tie up the game 2-2. Colby then scored two goals within fifty seconds to make the score 4-2, with the first coming from McKillop with 11:31 and the second coming from Whit McCarthy with 10:43 remaining.

Mike Ryan was able to take advantage of man-advantage for Williams with 5:06 to play in the half as he snapped a laser past Gianakos off from the left into the upper left hand corner off a pass from Richard Reuter, and the teams entered the half tied 4-3.

“We talked about winning ground balls at the half,” said Eph head coach George McCormack. “We felt as though that was lacking in the first and that was costing us especially outside the crease, where the picked up a few rebounds for goals. We said that whoever wins the third quarter is probably going to win the game… and that we were going to try to use our fitness and be physical with [Colby] and wear them down.”

McCormack’s words about the third proved prophetic. The Ephs took control of the game in the third, blanking the Mules while putting three past Gianakos. Corey Jacobs scored the first goal for the Ephs 2:49 into the period, and Cranshaw led the way for the rest of the period with two goals, with 9:41 and 5:25 left in the period, respectively, to give the Ephs a 6-4 lead headed into the fourth. Reuter assisted the first, while Cranshaw did the work for the second on his own, barreling through the center of the Colby defense before spinning to his left and flinging a lefty shot into the upper right of the net.

The fourth started with a bang for the Ephs: the team again took advantage of a man-up opportunity, as Cranshaw cut to the middle before dropping the ball off to Hargrove on the right, who dumped the ball past Gianakos just outside the crease to give the Ephs a 7-4 lead only 32 seconds into the period. Neither team was able to score for the next 11 minutes, and the Ephs looked like they would walk away with an easy victory; but then McCarthy scored his second goal of the game with 3:12 to play, and McKillop scored his third with 1:30 remaining to cut the Ephs lead to 7-6. It looked as though Colby could send the game to overtime, as the Mules won the face-off off of McKillop’s goal, but the Eph defense held up to pull out the victory.

Verla’s second half was particularly stellar, as the Eph goalie had 9 second-half saves. Gianakos finished with 12 saves for the Mules. The two teams finished the game with 33 shots each, and the Ephs outworked the Mules on the ground with 21 groundball victories. Colby stand-out face-off man Craig Bunker won 11 face-offs on the game, while Jacobs won 4 for the Ephs.

“I thought the defense when they exerted pressure did an excellent job,” said McCormack. “We didn’t give them that many looks. I our thought goalie play was really solid in third and fourth, and I thought Jacobs did nice things at the face-off circle, going against the best face-off guy in our conference [in Bunker]. Cranshaw, Vrla and D’Ambrosio all stood out in my eyes during the game.”

Williams will now spend a week preparing for an extended road trip: the team will play Bates on the road next Saturday at 1 p.m. before traveling to Virginia for four games over spring break.

“We went on the road last weekend and played Trinity and Amherst [in scrimmages],” said McCormack. “We felt that was a good test run in regards to playing on the road. The biggest thing is that we kind of like being on the road [over the break] because there is no class work, and we get to stay in hotels and do some bonding as a team. We have some great challenges ahead, though.”