(Nashua, N.H.) The Rivier men's lacrosse squad finds itself in a sudden position of power following a convincing 16-7 victory over Johnson & Wales Saturday afternoon at Raider Field.
The win marks for the first time in program history that the Raiders have been tied for first place in the conference this late into the season.
Trailing by a pair and after allowing four straight goals to the visiting Wildcats after one quarter, the host Raiders fired up their engines in the second with a six-goal surge and didn't look back to capture their third straight and fifth in their last seven after a 0-4 start.
Moreover, thanks to Norwich's 7-5 victory over previously unblemished Mount Ida, the Raiders and Cadets now stand atop the league standings at 5-1 setting up a monster Wednesday night showdown for sole possession of the conference's top rung. Faceoff is at 7:00 p.m.
Dylan McSparren (Warwick, R.I.) led the Raiders (6-6, 5-1 GNAC) with seven points garnering four goals and three assists while Sean Brady (Tewksbury, Mass.) came off the bench to provide a huge spark with five goals and an assist.
Joe Kelland (Watertown, Mass.) chipped in with a goal and three assists for the winners, while Liam Ryan (Dorchester, Mass.) posted a pair of scores and Eric Guinasso (Pelham, N.H.) had a goal and two assists. Matt Cloutman (Peabody, Mass.) made 12 stops in goal including six in the fourth.
Eric Russo led the Wildcats (4-10, 3-3 GNAC) with two goals. Ben Farrell added a goal and three assists. Bradley Morris posted six stops in net.
Despite the Wildcats finishing with a 39-32 total shots advantage and the squads relative even showing in ground balls (32-29 Raiders), the keys to the win came in the faceoff circle. JWU grabbed six of the first seven bouts in the opening frame, allowing the visitors to control possession, responding from an early 2-0 hole with goals from four different players.
But the duo of AJ Gearin (Lunenburg, Mass.) and Chris Pennie (Wilmington, Mass.) settled from there. Rivier pulled in four of seven face offs in the second quarter and then controlled on five of six in the third. Rivier would outscore JWU 4-1 in the third and 4-2 in the fourth.
Brady (two goals), Ryan, Kelland, Rob Fullerton (Wilmington, Mass.) and McSparren all found the back of the net in the second while McSparren added two in the third to go with strikes from Gearin and Brady. Rivier led 8-4 at the half and 12-5 after three.
Ryan, Gearin and Pennie would finish with four groundballs each for the hosts. Tony DeMarche led JWU with six.