Chestertown, MD – The Gettysburg College Bullets upset the Washington Shoremen today in the Centennial Conference Tournament Championship, 7-6, in order to gain the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. The Bullets needed a three goal effort from senior captain Kevin Smith and 17 much needed saves by freshman Pat Vaughan. In the losing effort goalie Richard Yost contributed 14 saves, with junior Jon Spivey adding 2 goals and an assist. Gettysburg’s defense was successful in limiting WAC’s leading scorer, Stephen Berger, to only 1 goal and 1 assist despite 11 shots, his 2nd lowest on the year.
Washington started the game at lighting speed as they peppered the Gettysburg net with 16 1st quarter shots. While Vaughan was there to contribute 5 saves, the majority of the WAC shots went wide of the net. After Washington possessed the ball for the first 3 minutes without any luck, Kevin Smith started the scoring for the Bullets at the 11:06 mark. Jon Spivey got WAC on the board at 8:31 as he grabbed a longstick Gregory Vetter pass intended for longstick John Kenney on the fast break. Less than a minute later, Spivey enjoyed the fruits of his riding efforts as the WAC ride allowed a looseball with Vaughan out of the net, leaving Spivey with an open net after he picked up the groundball.
Chase Stewart evened the score as he took a Nick Purkat feed on the Gettysburg extra-man opportunity with 1:36 left in the 1st period. With only 58 seconds remaining, senior Jake Van Nostrand came up with the groundball after an errant pass on the Washington offensive side. Coming up with the groundball, Van Nostrand found Evan Gallant who faked as if he wasn’t going to shoot and then ripped it past Yost for the 3-2 Gettysburg lead heading into the 2nd quarter.
Gallant would strike again to start the 2nd, as he found a shortstick defensive middie covering him, as he tucked underneath without drawing the slide and stretched the lead to 2. Kevin Smith added his 2nd of the game at 10:53 as he drove through two WAC defenders and put the ball past Yost. The four goal Gettysburg run can be credited to the scorers, but more importantly the efforts of junior shortstick defensive midfielder Brian Ford (5 gbs) deserve mentioning. It seemed as if every time Gettysburg forced a turnover or Washington dropped a ball, Ford was there to gather it and start the offense.
Not to be outdone, the Shoremen would go on a three goal run that stretched 6:50 of the 2nd quarter. Brent Renner added the 1st as his defender tried to take the ball away rather than stop his momentum, allowing him to get a great look at the Bullet goal. The 2nd was due to a great effort by Jon Spivey as he came up with a groundball that crossed midfield due to an errant Gettysburg offensive pass. Spivey was stripped, then rode the defenseman who picked it up, stripped him, came up with the groundball and fired to a waiting Kevin Nolan to cut the lead to 1. Berger would tie the game at 5, as he drove top-side and with an athletic jump shot put the ball past Vaughan.
Kevin Smith would put an unassisted righty bounce shot that was just slow enough to trickle past Yost with only 8.3 seconds left in the half for the Gettysburg 6-5 halftime lead.
It would take nearly 11 minutes into the 3rd quarter before either team could penetrate the defenses. The Shoremen evened the score once again at 4:13 as Stephen Berger fed Michael Dyal cross-crease with Dyal finishing the pretty goal courtesy of a quickstick. Gettysburg would add an extra man goal of their own at the 2:36 mark from Matt Twombly finishing the two man Bullet advantage.
The Twombly goal with 2:36 left in the 3rd would conclude the scoring for the day as Yost made three saves in the last 1:30 of the 3rd to keep WAC close and Vaughan added five 4th quarter saves to stop WAC’s desperation attempts. Neither team separated themselves in terms of groundballs (Washington had the advantage 32-31), while Gettysburg had a fair amount of trouble clearing the ball going 19 for 27, especially late in the game as WAC was desperate to get the ball back.
The Shoremen were called for three more penalties than the Bullets, and were unfortunate enough to hit at least 4 pipes on the day. Couple those with 9 more shots than Gettysburg on the day and Vaughan’s role is magnified. Not to be downplayed was the role of the Gettysburg defense. They constantly forced WAC to either take low-percentage shots or to try and penetrate their defense where they were waiting with 1 and often 2 defenders for the slide.
It’s unfortunate that the referees seemed to call a few ticky-tack calls towards the end of the game rather than letting the teams play, and in my opinion that punished Washington. It was very evident that the WAC bench was upset, and rightfully so, but the bottom line is that the opportunities they did have they didn’t take advantage of. They turned the ball over on the Gettysburg offensive side with 1:18 left as well as with :29 left, only to be given a gift in a Gettysburg defenseman overthrowing a cross-field pass giving the Shoremen the ball back with 27 seconds remaining. With their best player, Stephen Berger, on the ball it seemed that the sideline was alive once again. Unfortunately, Berger lost his footing and lost the ball.
For Gettysburg, they have the Centennial's automatic bid to the NCAA tournament and will host Cabrini next Saturday in a first round game. Washington, with a 16-2 record, was rewarded with an at-large bid to the tournament and named host to a first round game against Whittier despitenot capturing the Centennial's automatic qualifier. The Committee made a possible second round matchup very enticing...if both Gettysburg and Washington win their respective first games, they will again face each other in the quarterfinals.
|Jon Spivey||(2, 1)|
|Stephen Berger||(1, 1)|
|Michael Dyal||(1, 0)|
|Kevin Nolan||(1, 0)|
|Brent Renner||(1, 0)|
|Gregory Vetter||(0, 1)|
|Richard Yost||14 (0.667)|