BOSTON, Mass. – Led by a career-high 27 saves by senior goalie Henry Bristol (South Hadley, Mass.) lacrosse not only recorded their first two-game conference win streak, but they also secure a spot in this year's Little East Conference tournament for the first time since 2008 following a huge 6-5 win over the University of Southern Maine Tuesday afternoon in a rain soaked affair at the Clark Athletic Center Field.
With Tuesday's win the Beacons improve their overall record to 6-10, and reach the .500 mark in conference play as they now sit with a 3-3 record. For the Huskies they dropped to 5-10 on the year, 1-3 in the Little East.
The six wins and three in conference play are both career highs for head coach Tyler Low, who will be leading his squad to the postseason for the first time in his three seasons at UMB. Bristol, who leads the Little East Conference in saves per game with over 11 per contest, had perhaps his single greatest performance of his college career in Tuesday's victory.
Despite a consistent rain and strong winds, the South Hadley native was able to completely neutralize the Huskies attack after a somewhat shaky start in the first quarter. After totaling nine saves in the first 30 minutes of play, Bristol would combined for 18 stops over the final two quarters, including a career best 12 saves in the third quarter.
On the other side of the field, the Beacons attack found the back of the cage when they needed to with Donny Delpha (Walpole, Mass.) and Dom Fichera (Scituate, Mass.) each tallying a pair. Delpha also walked away with one assist to move to within three points of hitting the 100 career point marker. Ryan McGoff (Charlestown, Mass.) and Thomas Petitti (Quincy, Mass.) also walked away with a goal.
The Huskies, who outshot UMB 44-32 were held scoreless for nearly 35 minutes of Tuesday's contest got off to a great start scoring three goals in the first. However, that early momentum was stopped dead as Bristol became an impenetrable wall, which allowed his teammates to score four straight goals over the second and third quarters. UMB would carry the 5-3 lead going into the fourth.
Fichera would then clinch UMB's win less than two minutes into the final frame off of a Delpha assist. The Beacons did try to add to their lead, but the Huskies defense limited their chances throughout the closing minutes. On top of the strong defensive play, the Huskies also got a lift offensively as they cut the game to two with just over seven minutes to play on a Kaleb Smith goal, his seventh of the year. Now with a new found spark, the Huskies picked-up the pressure and began to pepper Bristol and his defense. Luckily both remained solid as Southern Maine would not score their final goal of the game until the final minute of play when Kyle Baker fired home his team-leading 39th goal of the season.
The Huskies would then win the final face-off of the afternoon, but were once again stopped by the Beacons backline. UMB would collect the ball and bring it up the field where they killed out the clock to earn their first program win over the Huskies since 2011.
On the afternoon, the Beacons won six of the 14 face-offs taken, with five of those belonging to Xavier Donaldson (Centerville, Mass.). Bristol along with Joe Miller (Hull, Mass.) each collected a game-high seven groundballs, while for Southern Maine Kyle Baker matched the game-high as well. Zach Blauvelt continued his role as the go-to face-off man for USM as he finished with all eight wins on the "X". Dylan Kenney was the leading goal scorer with two, while Baker finished with one goal and two assists for a team-best three points.
Between the pipes Ryan Hatch and Ryan Jurgelevich each took turns with the loss going to Jurgelevich. The duo combined for 11 saves respectively.
Lacrosse returns to action on Saturday when they travel to Eastern Connecticut State University for a 1 p.m. Little East Conference match in the regular season finale for both teams. The 2013 Little East Conference playoffs are scheduled to begin on Tuesday, April 30.