Manhattan holds off Mount 9-8, in MAAC tourney final

Lack of man-up success costly

Jautze gets 4 goals

May 05, 2002|By Mike Scandura | Mike Scandura,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. - Mount St. Mary's coach Tom Gravante used a basketball analogy when describing why his team lost, 9-8, yesterday to Manhattan in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Tournament final.

"Man-up opportunities are like foul shots in basketball." Gravante said.

"You"ve got to hit "em. I think it's a little bit easier in basketball than in lacrosse to hit a high-percentage shot. But man up gave us several windows of opportunity and we didn't cash in on them.

"You go 3-for-8, which is acceptable, and potentially you win that ballgame because it puts Manhattan in a different situation."

The Mountaineers (6-11) converted just one of eight man-up opportunities while the Jaspers (11-5), who clinched an NCAA tournament berth, were 2-for-4 with a man advantage.

Even though the Mountaineers were 1-for-3 on man-up situations in the fourth quarter, when freshman attack Billy Jautze notched the second of his four goals to pull his team within a goal at 7-6, Gravante was upset over some sloppy play.

"At the end of the game, we threw the ball away." he said. "You've got to at least pop a shot. We don't pop a shot ... we throw the ball away. That's not acceptable.

"There also were a few times where we weren't taking high-percentage shots and turning the ball over ... not even hitting the goalie [tourney Most Valuable Player James Amandola] or throwing it by the goalie. Man up is the key."

Jautze's four-goal explosion during Friday's 7-6 semifinal victory over Providence College was the key in that game. Jautze scored the tying goal with 17 seconds left in regulation before winning it in overtime, and he scored with 17 seconds left in regulation yesterday to slice Mount's deficit to 9-8. But Manhattan's Rich Sauer and Mount's Steve Kelly muscled around for several seconds on the ensuing faceoff before the Jaspers" Wes Sitar scooped up the ball.

That was the 33rd groundball Manhattan snared, compared with 30 for Mount, and it denied Gravante an opportunity to call a timeout and set up one last play.

Manhattan's Eugene Tanner, the MAAC Rookie of the Year, scored the first of his three goals at 7:56 of the first quarter. But Mount's Steve Kelly tied it at 3:26 after Kevin Merlini did a superb job of shaking his defender to hit Kelly with a pass.

The Jaspers" Mike Kelly sandwiched two goals (the first in a man-up situation) around a coast-to-coast race by Jautze for a 3-2 lead. But Merlini sent the teams off at halftime in a 3-3 tie when he scored with 12 seconds left while falling to his knees.

This pattern continued in the third quarter with Mount forging leads on goals by Mark Cox and Jautze. But Manhattan's Nick Silva zipped through traffic from just inside midfield to tie it at 5-5 heading into the final period.

Tanner gave Manhattan breathing room with a man-up goal and an unassisted tally. Then, after Jautze scored, Manhattan freshman Justin Otto scored two goals - the second with 1:45 left to make it 9-6.

Mount's Charles Hogg then scored at 1:21. And when Jautze went up top for a goal with 17 seconds left, it appeared another miracle finish might be in the offing. But it didn't happen.

"It hurts." Jautze said. "You have to feel real bad for the seniors, knowing it was their last game. But we"ll be back here next year."

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