May 7, 2014
SMITHFIELD, R.I. - Kyle Curry's shot at a game-tying goal was blocked with two seconds remaining as No. 19/16 Bryant held off Siena Lacrosse 9-8 in an NCAA play-in game at Bulldog Stadium. Bryant advances to the NCAA Tournament to face No. 2 seed Syracuse in the First Round Sunday at 7:30 p.m. at the Carrier Dome.
"I'm extremely proud," said head coach John Svec. "We've had a good year and I'm sad to see it come to an end."
Siena ends a successful 2014 season with an 11-6 final record. The Saints won their third MAAC Championship in six seasons and reached double digits in wins for the seventh time in the last year years.
Playing in their NCAA-leading 12th true road game, Siena controlled the game early scoring three straight goals to take a 3-1 lead midway through the first quarter. MAAC Faceoff Specialist of the Year Casey Dowd set the tone early, winning four of six first quarter draws against two-time Northeast Conference Player of the Year and Tewaaraton Award Semifinalist Kevin Massa.
"Listen, that kid's (Massa) really good, but we've got a really, really good faceoff guy (Dowd). I think it's about time somebody said `Casey Dowd is a hell of a lacrosse player.'"
But the Saints were hampered by misfortune as they hit five posts, four of which came in the first half. As a result, Siena was unable to build a commanding lead and harbored just a 4-3 advantage over Bryant (15-4) at the break.
The Bulldogs defense clamped down during the middle of the game, allowing Bryant to go on a four-goal run to reclaim a 6-4 lead with 4:42 remaining in the third quarter. Kyle Curry eventually ended the Saints' 26:56 drought with his second goal of the game and Siena trailed 6-5 heading into the final stanza.
Conor Prunty and Kevin Cousin scored 63 seconds apart early in the fourth as Siena rallied to re-tie the game 7-7 with 10:40 to play. MAAC Offensive Player Richie Hurley assisted on both scores and finished with four assists on the day. Hurley ends the year with 48 assists, breaking Siena great Tony Asterino's single-season program record of 47 set when he led the nation in scoring in 1981.
But Bryant would have the final say. Colin Dunster and Shane Morrell would score just 19 seconds apart as the Bulldogs reclaimed the lead for good at 9-7 with 5:11 remaining.
Jordan Barlow scored his second goal of the game to pull the Saints within a score with 2:47 left and Siena would have its chances in the final minute, but could not net the equalizer in dropping to 4-3 in one-goal games this spring.
"We definitely wanted (Curry's) shot," noted Prunty. "We drew something up, they jumped into a zone and it kind of threw us off. But we got to the back side and got a great look at it."
Prunty finished with three points and MAAC Tournament Most Outstanding Player Tommy Cordts was strong again in goal posting 11 saves for the Saints which fell to 2-16 all-time against USILA Top-20 opponents. Dowd more then held his own against Massa, the national leader in both faceoff percentage and groundballs, winning 50% of his draws and capturing seven groundballs.
NEC Rookie of the Year Tucker James and Morrell each tallied three points on two goals and an assist for Bryant. NEC Defensive Player of the Year Gunnar Waldt, who was hobbled early by a leg injury, persevered to make 14 saves for Bryant which will face the Orange in the NCAA Tournament for the second straight year.
"These four years have been absolutely fantastic," reflected Colin Clive who ends his career tied for fifth in program history with 115 goals. "These guys are my family. I love every single one of them. I couldn't be more proud."
Siena graduates 11 seniors including Clive who bookended their careers with MAAC Championships, but return three of the program's top-four scorers plus Dowd at the X and Cordts in goal as the Saints look to defend their title in 2015.