Rivier vs. Johnson State
March 25, 2012
The Game Story:
(Nashua, NH) The Rivier College Men's Lacrosse team, coming off a 4 – 0 start to their season while racking up 55 goals in the process, ground through the gears on offense today and managed only 4 strikes. The visiting Johnson State College Badgers took a 7 – 4 win at Raider field. Both teams were playing the second game in a back to back weekend, with Johnson State coming off a loss to Castleton State and Rivier coming off a win over Emerson College.

The Badgers opened the scoring and held a 1 – 0 lead in the 1st quarter. They threatened to add a second with a quality bid at the 7:30 mark, but Rivier goalie Chris Benoit (junior, Blackstone, MA) turned aside the shot. Rivier created a good look, with Shawn Donovan (sophomore, Tewksbury, MA) getting a good shot away with a nice shift in front of goal, but the Badgers goalie Zach Jerome turned aside the opportunity. Less than a minute later, at the 4:46 mark, Mike Arricale (freshmen, Billerica, MA) tied the game at 1 – 1 with a good shot from high in the slot, and an assist from Donovan. Rivier, struggling to move the ball, was caught on their heels to close out the 1st quarter and Johnson State made them pay. The Badgers tucked two more strikes away in the last 1:30 of the quarter with goals from Alex Petti and Nash Garceau, and took a 3 – 1 lead into the break.

Over the first 5 minutes of the 2nd quarter a constant quarrel between the Raiders longstick defender Kevin Conley (junior, Nashua, NH) and the Badgers dangerous attack man Petti emerged. With both players checking in at 6 foot plus and close to 200 pounds a piece it was a heavy, physical battle that emerged and carried on throughout the game, with big a physical hit and exchange of greetings between the two at the 10:00 minute mark . 30 seconds later, at 9:30, Benoit turned in his second big save of the game to keep the 3 – 1 score line. The Badgers Justin Connolly used his speed to navigate the Raider defense and fired a testing shot on Benoit, but again he was up to the task. J. Connolly kept up the pressure for the visitors, and with 7:02 to go in the 2nd he made a hard diagonal drive from left to right, 25 yards from goal, and tossed a sharp, pretty pass against the grain to Matt Dekens who was wide open on the back door and fired home into an empty net. 4 – 1 Johnson State. Jay DeLanoy called a timeout and worked with the Raiders after the goal, at the half way point of the quarter. The Raiders transition game and ability to clear their area was off today, and it resulted in a lack of possession. With a group of players out injured – Mike Colby (freshmen, Londonderry, NH), Andrew Lucy (freshmen, Windham, NH), and Carl Ghannad (senior, Salem, NH) – their line-up was jostled today.

The Raiders were able to settle down as the 2nd quarter played out. Benoit had to come up big on a good shot from Dekens at the 4:15 mark. In the offensive area, Rivier came under high pressure from the Johnson State defense. The Raiders worked to find solutions and with 2:14 left, after some quality ball movement in the attack zone, they drew a penalty and 1 minute man-up advantage. Rivier could not convert on the advantage and were unable to cut into Johnson State's 4 -1 lead.

In the 3rd quarter, Benoit again turned in a strong save to keep the Raiders within striking distance, turning away a bid from J. Connolly at the 13:54 mark. Donovan cut the Raiders deficit in half with one of the best goals of the day. Ryan Woolaver (freshmen, Tewksbury, MA) got the ball to him just to the left of the slot. Donovan fought his way into the slot, bouncing off of two hard checks and released a quick shot that beat Jerome, and pulled Rivier within 2, 4 – 2. Within a minute, Rivier had a man-up situation with a double penalty to Johnson State, but the Raiders could not convert and cut into the lead. At 7:14 and 6:38, Benoit turned in two more back to back saves. The first, a low hard shot from Garceau that he snared, and the second, a rip from Dekens that he took in the body were tough saves and kept the Raiders within two. Conley helped his goaltender out, taking a heavy shot to the body 10 seconds later to block a Johnson State scoring chance. As the quarter wound down, the Badgers did a good job of breaking up the Raiders' clearing attempts and keeping possession of the ball.

The Raiders kept grinding though. With just over a minute to go in the 3rd, Arricale fought to win a clearing pass at half field, darted forward on a quick run, and found Jeff Kelly (sophomore, Westborough, MA) with a long hard pass near goal. Kelly handled the pass and fired a hard shot at the net, but the Badgers goalie took it in the chest. The Badgers countered quickly, and got a man-up situation. Seconds into it, at the 55.4 second mark of the 3rd, they converted with a low hard shot from Tyler Ask. It was a two goal swing, with the big save from Badgers goalie Jerome keeping Rivier at Bay at 4 – 2, rather than 4 – 3, and Ask's strike less than 15 seconds later putting Johnson State ahead 5 – 2.

At the 8:51 mark of the 4th, Johnson State started to pull away with another strike from Petti, to lead 6 - 2. Benoit kept the Raiders around with another big save at the 5:45 mark, getting low to stop a bid from Dekens and keep it a 4 goal game. Petti would score again at the 4:49 mark, firing a shot in after a tough physical run with Riviers' Conley draped all over him. The Badgers pulled ahead 7 – 2. Benoit turned in a sparkling pair of saves with just over 4 minutes to play, fighting through traffic to bat away a hard shot from Dylan Rutledge and then scrambling across the goal to rob Chandler Halbur as he tried to tap the rebound into what he thought was an open goal. Rivier kept scrapping and as the game closed out, they scored two goals over the last 3 minutes 30 seconds. Woolaver scored a man-up goal on a nice pass from Donovan that switched the point of attack. With 1:06 to go, Woolaver fed Danny Hooper (sophomore, Wakefield, RI) and he converted the second to make it 7 – 4. But, the clock only had 66 ticks left, and that was not enough time for the Raiders to fight back. The game ended fittingly with Benoit called on to make one last save with just over 20 seconds to go. Benoit saw plenty of rubber on the day, and he put up a big performance in goal to keep Rivier in the game.