With his lone assist and fourth point in No. 13 Goucher’s 13-8 victory over visiting Scranton at Gopher Stadium in Towson Saturday afternoon, Matt Lynch became the fourth player in program history to amass 200 points in a career.
That the senior joined attackmen and current teammates Kyle Boncaro and Rory Averett in that elite club is noteworthy considering Lynch doesn’t get nearly the attention that Boncaro and Averett do because of their unique ability to score goals. But if Lynch is offended by the snub, he didn’t voice that sentiment after Saturday’s contest.
“I know they score a lot more than me,” he said. “Sometimes it’s nice getting underappreciated because it’s nice when they don’t pole me and I get a short stick.”
Lynch isn’t underappreciated by Boncaro, who said Lynch makes the attackmen’s lives easier with his play on offense, defense and faceoffs.
“People underestimate No. 7 between the lines and in the midfield,” said Boncaro, whose four goals Saturday helped him tie the school record for most points in a single season (69) set by Phil Anthony in 2002. “He’s not only a huge offensive threat, but he does damage on defense. He’s able to pick up groundballs, provides a ton of leadership, makes sure that everyone is focused.”
Lynch certainly had the attention of Royals coach Jim Rogalski, who had few answers on how to limit Lynch after he registered five goals and two assists against Scranton’s defense.
“He was definitely somebody that we keyed on,” Rogalski said. “He makes plays. But he’s a throwback guy. He plays defense, he runs transition, he’s just an all-around lacrosse player that everybody wishes they had. There are times when he doesn’t get on the scorebook, but from a coach watching the film, you see the little things he does. He’s on the wing on faceoffs, he causes turnovers, he runs the ball in transition. He’s a well-rounded player, so you don’t forget about a guy like Matt Lynch.”
Remarkably, Lynch is the first midfielder in school history to accrue 200 points in a career.
“It’s pretty special to me because when I got here, there was Brian Hoge and he was kind of my mentor,” he said. “I looked up to him a lot. Dave Duff was a year before [he joined Goucher], and I met a lot. It’s special because it’s something they haven’t done, but I respect them a lot, and it’s nice to know that I was the first midfielder to do it. But I think there are going to be some others following my footsteps.”
*One key factor to the Gophers jumping to leads of 7-1 and 9-3 in the second quarter was their ability to apply pressure on Scranton’s defenders and midfielders when trying to transition the ball from defense to offense. The Royals failed to clear on 4-of-7 attempts in the first quarter and 2-of-4 tries in the second period. That allowed Goucher longer possessions and more opportunities, which resulted in the offense outshooting Scranton, 28-14, in the first half. “That’s one thing that we really had in our game plan,” coach Kyle Hannan said. “Early on, have a lot of pressure to get a lot of possessions and get an early lead at home against a big rival. We really got it. And then they started understanding what we were doing, and they started getting dangerous down around the goal because it was a 10-man ride. So then they started clearing a little bit more when we started pulling off.” Said Rogalski: “They do a nice job of pressuring on the clear, and I felt that caused some turnovers in the first half. I think in the second half, we kind of adjusted from that pressure, and we felt like we could score goals if we had the offensive possessions like we did in the third quarter.”
*The Royals’ 12-8 upset of the Gophers in last year’s Landmark Conference Tournament final was punctuated by attackman Daniel Slade’s five goals and one assist. Now a senior, Slade led Scranton with four goals Saturday, but a defense led by senior Heath Thumel kept Slade scoreless in the fourth quarter. “He’s a crafty guy,” said Thumel, an Ellicott City native and Wilde Lake graduate who had the primary task of shadowing Slade. “I just had to keep it simple. I knew he was a left-handed player. So I had to stick to that left hand, make him go right, and I didn’t think he was going to get enough right-handed goals to beat me.”
*In addition to tracking Slade, the Goucher defense went back to the basics when the Royals embarked on their 5-0 run to trim a deficit to one early in the fourth quarter. “We started getting out of how we play Goucher defense,” Thumel said. “We started getting individual. Started going for takeaways. They’re a skilled team, and that’s not going to work against them. The best way to beat that is just team defense.”