Nashua, NH, Raider Field – The Rivier University Raiders 5 – 2 (1 – 1 GNAC) beat the visiting Anna Maria College Amcats 2 – 6 (0 – 3 GNAC) 10 – 9 in a thrilling Great Northeast Athletic Conference match-up. The Raiders used a five goal 4th quarter, capped by a strike from freshman Kevin Dembkoski (Fr, Salem, NH) with 1:53 left, to pull out the conference win. Rivier was paced by Kyle Graham (Fr, Londonderry, NH) 2 assists, 9 shots – 6 on goal, and 8 ground balls, Cody Lynch (So, Salem, NH) 6 ground balls, Rob Auer (Fr, Salem, NH) 3 goals, 3 assists, 4 ground balls, and David Bray (Fr, West Suffield, CT) 2 goals, 8 shots – 3 on goal, 4 ground balls. Clark Plummer (Fr, Londonderry, NH) turned in another strong performance in goal, with 17 saves including two in the final minute to make the one goal lead stand up.
Clark Plummer was called into action right of the bat with the Amcats working the ball and creating a shot for Chris Summers (Sr, Long Valley, NJ) that the Rivier goalkeeper saved inside of the first minute. Rob Auer got the home team on the board, starting from the side of the goal and moving left to right he bounced a shot inside the post and past Joshua Giarratano (Fr, Warwick, RI) in the Amcats goal for a 1 – 0 lead. The Amcats answered just over a minute later, at the 2:50 mark. David Marsh (Sr, Boston, MA) placed a nice pass to Scott Henry (Fr, Coventry, RI) in a soft spot in the slot between four Raider defenders and Henry wasted no time in releasing a quick shot that beat C. Plummer. The Raiders responded right off the face-off, winning the ball and connecting a couple of quick passes to get Kyle Graham in position to receive a wide open pass at the top of the crease. The Amcats goalkeeper read the play well, and stepped out to lay a check on Graham as he received the pass, handcuffing him as he tried to shoot and was knocked to the ground and his shot went wide. The Raiders kept the pressure on, regaining the ball and creating a good look 38 seconds later at the 11:22 mark on a nice passing play with Graham working the ball to Brandon Hanifin (Fr, Tewksbury, MA). Hanifin let a good, low shot go, but Giarratano made the save. The Amcats took a one goal lead at the 5:54 mark on a nice goal from Henry. The Amcats attacker made a power drive from the left side of the goal and finished with a dive into and between three Rivier defenders in the crease as he whipped his shot on goal and past C. Plummer in the Raider cage, and a 2 – 1 lead. It was the first of a handful of impressive goals from both teams on the day.
The Raiders stayed with their game plan and at the 8:34 mark Graham fired a buzzing shot from the slot that Giarratano made a great reaction save on, finding the ball with his left wrist and the shaft off his stick just in front of his body to knock it away 30 feet into the air. Rod Henriques (Sr, Saugus, MA) got sent off for 3 minutes at the 10:47 mark, giving the Raiders a long man-up sequence. Rivier created a good chance just 16 seconds in, with Hanifin working the ball across the top of the slot to Graham on the left who quickly flicked it down the slot to Auer. Auer let a low shot fly, but Giarratano got across the crease with good footwork and was square to Auer's bid and wrapped the shot up in his body. The Amcats did a nice job of killing off the man-up situation, holding the Raiders back, with Auer's shot their best look. The Amcats pressed to increase their lead in the final minute of the first. Their first attempt was a quick shot from Mark Sawyer (Sr, Gardner, MA) in the slot, but C. Plummer made a nice kick save to turn it away. With 32 seconds left, Trevor Plummer (Fr, Londonderry, NH) put a good check on Henry that halted the Amcats attacker from getting off a shot in the slot.
The Raiders created two good scoring opportunities to start the 2nd quarter. 45 seconds in, Auer forced a good reaction save from Giarratano in the Amcats goal where he tracked the shot and fended it away with his right bicep. 15 seconds later it was Hanifin firing for the Raiders, but again Giarratano made the save. The Amcats added to their lead with a man-up strike from Marsh at the 2:32 mark to give the visitors a 3 – 1 lead. The Amcats kept the pressure up. 33 seconds later Jason Baker (Sr, Billerica, MA) forced a save from C. Plummer low to his left. And again, at the 3:19 mark, Lucas Stralka (Fr, E. Greenwich, CT) slung a shot from high in the slot that C. Plummer saved up around his left shoulder. The Raiders were called for a slashing violation and the Amcats struck just 7 seconds into the man-up advantage for a 4 – 1 lead. Henriques worked the ball to Stralka half way up the left side of the slot and he fired a quick shot that beat the Raider goalkeeper. Hanifin answered for the Raiders just 27 seconds later. Auer worked low to the left of the goal and got the ball into Hanifin at the top of the crease were his quick strike found the net and pulled the Raiders back to 4 – 2 at the 3:55 mark. Hanifin and Auer connected again in a man-up situation to get the home side within one a minute and eight seconds later. This time Auer fed Hanifin on the side of the goal and the Raider attacker struck, 4 – 3.
At the 6:40 mark, the Hanifin, Auer duo worked another chance, this time with Auer firing on a feed from Hanifin, but Giarratano made an athletic, agile sliding body challenge to turn away the low bid. The Amcats scored their 5th at the 8:33 mark, with Baker making an explosive, fast run down the slot and whipping a shot from his left shoulder that beat C. Plummer, 5 – 3. The Raiders pressed again at the 8:45 mark with Hanifin forcing a good body save from Giarratano and Kevin Dembkoski was quick to jump on the rebound in the crease but as he coiled to shoot Frank Russo (Fr, Scituate, MA) stuck him with a good check that rattled his shooting attempt and sent the ball rolling away. 26 seconds later, Hanifin continued to buzz in the attacking zone, and he had a good look from the right side of the slot, but the Amcats goalkeeper made a good, low save. At the 10:02 mark, Henriques let a shot go and C. Plummer made a nice save. C. Plummer was called on to make two more big saves in the next 38 seconds to keep the Raiders within two. On the first, Marsh had a good look from the slot that the Raider goalkeeper handled. 10 seconds later, Stralka fired a testing bid that Plummer made the save on. The Amcats pushed to add to their lead before the half. With 1:07 to play in the half, Henry fed Henriques behind the Raider net and he made a nice curling run out into the crease. Before he could release his shot he was checked by Dembkoski and T. Plummer and his shooting attempt was broken up with the ball rolling free for C. Plummer to pick-up. The Raider defenders closed out the 1st half with another good stand as Dembkoski and Cody Lynch put checks on the Amcats Baker that forced his shot wide with 40 seconds left.
The Raiders worked back within one, 5 – 4, 2:23 into the 3rd quarter. Auer fed Bray on the left side of the slot and Bray struck for the tally. Graham created a man-up situation for the Raiders at the 2:36 mark on a pushing violation while he carried the ball against Jacob Parker (Jr, Baldwinville, MA). As the time ticked away on the extra man situation, Graham fired a shot from high in the slot, but again Giarratano answered in goal for the Amcats. At the 3:26 mark, Anna Maria worked a nice passing sequence to take a 6 – 4 lead on a man-up goal. Henry worked the top of the slot and passed to Summers high in the left and he fed Henriques in the lower left. Henriques powered a high shot over the Raiders' goalkeeper's shoulder. Graham had another good look at the 4:54 mark, but Patrick Lewis (Sr, Norwich, CT) did well to block the bid. Graham continued to pace the Raider attack, faking a shot and passing to Ryan Woolaver (So, Tewksbury, MA) who fired one home to pull the Raiders back within one at 6 – 5 at the 10:18 mark. The Amcats stretched their lead back to two with a nice three man transition passing combination. Kevin Hart (So, Franklin, MA) worked the ball out of their defensive end, finding Henry in the high slot and he quickly connected with Henriques down low on the left were the Amcats attacker notched his strike, 7 – 5.
Henriques had another bid 6 seconds later off the ensuing face-off, but C. Plummer made the save. The Raiders pushed to respond at the 7:00 minute mark, with Auer paying a price at the top of the crease where he was knocked to the ground as he worked to get off a shot, but he stuck with the play in a tangle with an Amcats defender and won the ball on his knees and shot over his back as he fell to his stomach. The shot was turned away and Dembkoski rounded up the rebound and shot from the left side of the goal, but again Giarratano made the save. Anna Maria struck again at the 9:30 mark with a man-up goal. Summers fed Henry in the high slot and he turned a sharp pass to Stralka on the right side of the goal. Stralka caught it high and snapped the shot away just as it hit his stick, 8 – 5 visitors. The Raiders created two looks down the stretch with Hanifin firing wide from high in the slot at the 12:20 mark, and Auer letting one fly from high in the slot and paying the price on a hit from Russo at the 13:10 mark.
Down three goals to open the 4th quarter, the Raiders went right to work. Auer, fresh off the lick he took in the slot to get away a shot at the end of the 3rd, went right back to the dirty areas, whipping into the edge of the crease and diving to get an angle to shoot and connect with the back off the net just 16 seconds into the final frame, 8 – 6. It was an impressive diving effort to get the shot off. 23 seconds later it was Bray releasing a quick shot from the middle of the slot on a feed from Danny Hooper (Jr, Wakefield, RI) and the Raiders were within one, 8 – 7. Rivier kept the pressure on, with Giarratano turning back a bid from Graham at the 2:28 mark. The home team kept coming, and 22 seconds later, just two minutes fifty seconds into the 4th quarter, they scored their third goal and tied the score at 8 apiece. Graham worked from right to the left behind the goal and threw to Woolaver on the left side of the slot were he tallied to knot the contest. The Raiders pushed again at the 5:12 mark, with Bray ripping a shot from a low release high in the crease that slammed the post. Dembkoski followed with another shot that the Amcats goalkeeper matched. Just over a minute later, Auer struck again. Working against two Amcats defenders, the Raider attacker made two quick reversing cuts to get open in the mid slot and fire for his third strike of the game and the raiders first lead since the 1st quarter, 9 – 8. Baker tried to spark the visitors at the 7:00 minute mark, making a nice solo run, but his shot was blocked as Graham and Andy Wells (So, Wilmington, MA) converged on Baker as he closed in on the crease and blocked his shot. A minute late, Graham was on the offensive side of the field, placing a shot on the Amcats goal, but Giarratano made the save to keep the visitors back by only one. At the 9:12 mark, Stralka struck again for the Amcats, working between tight checking from Andrew Lucy (So, Windham, NH) and Lynch, but the attacker was able to get his shot off and tie the game up at 9 – 9. 40 seconds later, Baker pressed again, driving down the right side of the slot on a quick run and firing a high shot on goal. C. Plummer responded with a left shoulder save and thwarted the dangerous attack to keep the score tied.
With 3:03 to play Anna Maria called a timeout to set-up. The Raider defense came out strong and forced a turnover 37 seconds later and Wells cleared the ball to T. Plummer with 2:13 to play and the Raiders called time. The stage was set for Dembkoski's heroics 50 seconds later. Taking control out of the timeout, the Raiders settled into a rhythm and moved the ball in the attacking zone, keeping possession. They worked the ball to Dembkoski behind the goal. Rolling to his right behind the goal and getting separation from his defender, a lane opened for him to attack the front of the goal and a lone Amcats defender. Dembkoski pounced on the opportunity, driving from behind the net to Giarratano's right, and lunging to avoid the closing Amcats defender, the Raider attacker released a high shot just under the crossbar that caught part of the pipe, took a bounce, ricocheted off the goalkeeper and spun on the turf and over the goal line. The Raiders were on top 10 – 9. It was another impressive goal on the day, with Dembkoski making an athletic, lunging dive to avoid the defender and release his shot. The visitors were not done. With 47 seconds to play, Henry rolled out from behind the net determined to crash to the top of the crease. Wells and T. Plummer smashed into the Amcats attacker as he tried to spin free and hampered his shooting effort. 7 seconds later, Henry fired on goal for the visitors, but C. Plummer made the save. The visitors, pushing to tie the score called a timeout with 28 seconds to go and in a man-up situation. Keeping possession out of the timeout, the Amcats created a chance with 18 seconds to play. Again it was Henry for the visitors, with some good work in the slot to get a shot off, but again C. Plummer preserved the one goal lead with a save. The Amcats got the rebound and Summers looked to regroup, but T. Plummer matched him up well with good defense and helped the Raiders seal the win.
With the win, the Raiders pull to 5 – 2 on the season. The Raiders return to action on Tuesday night, March 26th, when they travel to face GNAC opponent Emerson at 5:00 pm. The Amcats will look to regroup against GNAC opponent Emmanuel in a home contest on Tuesday, March 26th, at 6:30 pm.