Gophers to make first trip to an NCAA tourney

Goucher beats Catholic for Landmark Conference title

May 08, 2010|By Rich Scherr, Special to The Baltimore Sun

It took about five minutes for the Goucher College men's lacrosse team to rid itself of big-stage jitters in Saturday's Landmark Conference final.

Once the Gophers settled into their game, however, visiting Catholic never had a chance. Playing before the largest home crowd in school history, they held the Cardinals scoreless for a mid-game stretch of more than 27 minutes, scoring seven straight goals in an 11-4 win.

Goucher (14-3) earned an automatic bid to the 23-team NCAA Division III tournament and expects to learn its seeding and first-round opponent late today. The team will be making its first trip to the tournament in its 19-year history after three previous losses in conference finals.

"I think it's a huge step for the school, for the program and for Baltimore," said coach Kyle Hannan, who earned his 100th career win at the school.

"This is the first time there's ever been a Goucher team that has really believed and had a little bit of a swagger."

Attackman Rory Averett scored a game-high five goals and fellow sophomore Kyle Boncaro added four for the Gophers, who have won a school-record nine straight games and improved to 15-0 all time against Catholic (12-4).

Goucher trailed 2-1 midway through the first quarter before taking control, forcing turnovers, winning ground balls and converting at the offensive end.

Boncaro's unassisted effort 5:36 into the game started a string of seven straight goals for the Gophers, including three for Averett, to help extend the lead to 8-2 by early in the third.

"Once we got the nerves out of us, we started playing and we just stuck it to them," Averett said. "We started rolling, and it just snowballed."

Senior goalie Chris Stricklin finished with 17 saves to preserve the win. Catholic 2 0 1 1 4Goucher 3 4 2 2 11 Goals: C—Fuccillo 2, Bitonti, Scotto; G—Averett 5, Boncaro 4, Curry, Fratella. Assists: C—Groh 2; G—Lynch 3, Curry, Fratella, LaBricciosa. Saves: C—McKenna 9; G—Stricklin 17.

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