The Wesleyan lacrosse team started its 2014 campaign with a thrilling overtime road win against Hamilton this past Saturday, as Quentin DellaFera ’15 struck with four seconds remaining to give Wes the 12-11 victory. Although the Cardinals led 7-3 at the half, the Continentals chipped away at the Cardinals’ lead, scoring four unanswered goals in the fourth quarter and taking a 10-9 lead with less than eight minutes to play.
“Hamilton possessed the ball a lot, and played a very smart game,” said Captain Sam Stanton ’14. “When we got up on them early, they didn’t give up and slowly chipped away at our lead and eventually took the lead with a few minutes left in the game.”
Despite blowing the lead, the Cards were determined to fight back. They pulled even with four minutes remaining in regulation when Nate Ryan ’15 netted his first goal of the season. With just under two minutes to play, the Continentals scored to take the lead, but, once again, Ryan responded with 58 seconds on the clock. At the end of regulation the game was tied, and for the first time since 1996 the Cardinals headed to OT in their season opener.
With 35 seconds left in the first overtime period, the Cardinals went down two men; Mike Giambanco ’14 and Captain Aidan Daniell ’14 were sent to the penalty box for pushing, which left the door wide open for the Continentals. Despite being down two men, the Cardinals’ defense remained poised, and Captain Elliot Albert ’14 forced the Continentals’ 20th turnover of the game by knocking down a pass. Collecting his first ground ball of the game, Bennett Sluis ’14 quickly moved the ball to Lyle Mitchell ’16, who fed DellaFera for his third goal of the competition and the game-winner with four seconds left.
“This was an important win for us because it allows us to look at the film and correct the mistakes we made, while also having a 1-0 record,” Stanton said. “In the NESCAC, there are going to be plenty of one goal games, and it was great to see our guys bear down and pull out the OT win.”
In addition to DellaFera’s three goals, Matt Prezioso ’15 had a hat trick of his own, while Mitchell and Ryan both scored two and added two assists, and Graham Macnab ’14 also had two goals and one assist. Mark Simmons ’14 recorded eight saves in net for the Cardinals and started off the season with a save percentage of .421.
Although the Cardinals were outshot 41-39 and only won 10 out of 26 faceoffs, they were able to create opportunities on offense when it mattered most.
“I thought the team created a lot of opportunities on offense, and we had very good ball movement throughout most of the game,” Stanton said. “We played a lot of defense against Hamilton, and that comes from not controlling the middle of the field and getting the ball to our offense.”
With the first win under their belts and, they hope, early season jitters put to rest, the Cardinals look to improve to 2-0 this Wednesday when they travel to Troy, N.Y. to face Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.