April 29, 2013

MIT Edges Mass. Maritime, Clinches Playoff Spot

BUZZARDS BAY, Mass. – For the second year in a row, the MIT men's lacrosse team secured a spot in the Pilgrim Lacrosse League Championship Tournament in dramatic fashion on the last day of conference play as it defeated Massachusetts Maritime Academy, 7-6. Sophomore John Kramer (Glastonbury, Conn.) provided the game-winning goal with 1:49 remaining in regulation on Monday night while senior Sean Burke (Centennial, Colo.) put the Engineers in the playoffs last season by scoring with 33 seconds left in a double-overtime decision against Clark University.

The Cardinal and Gray, who improved to 5-9 on the year and 3-3 in Pilgrim play, will now travel to top-seeded Springfield College for semifinal action on Wednesday, May 1.

In addition to his game-winning strike, Kramer posted five groundballs and two caused turnovers. Freshman Graham Francis (Palos Verdes Estates, Calif.) notched two goals while classmate Paul Orrson (Baltimore, Md.) registered a goal and an assist. Burke and sophomore Bill Kelleher (Pittsburgh, Pa.) both scored a goal as freshman Jonah Hessels (Poolesville, Md.) earned two assists. Sophomore Jake Slonaker (West Windsor, N.J.) totaled one assist and three groundballs while junior Tim Wilczynski (Old Lyme, Conn.) produced two caused turnovers. Freshmen Nick Uhlenhuth (Louisville, Ky.) and Jake Shearman (Hertfordshire, United Kingdom) both picked up three groundballs as senior Christopher Rullan (Wexford, Pa.) compiled seven saves, eight groundballs, and two caused turnovers. Junior Britt Cyr (Cincinnati, Ohio) rounded out the squad with five groundballs and winning eight of his 12 faceoff attempts.

The early stages of the game were a back-and-forth affair until Francis converted a feed from Hessels in transition with 8:10 on the clock. A turnover by Massachusetts Maritime set up MIT's next goal which was scored by Burke almost five minutes later. After earning the assist on Burke's tally, Orrson redirected a pass from Verdi to put the visitors' up 3-0. Cyr won the ensuing faceoff that led to Francis's solo strike with 39 seconds left in the quarter.

The Buccaneers controlled the action in the second stanza as they outshot the Engineers, 13-3, and tallied three goals in a span of 2:23. The final nine minutes of the quarter were a defensive battle as MIT entered halftime with a 4-3 edge.

Massachusetts Maritime recorded the equalizer midway through the third quarter but the Engineers pulled in front courtesy of Verdi's man-up marker with 2:02 to go. The Buccaneers countered by knotting the game at five with 29 seconds on the clock.

The exchange of goals carried over into the final frame as Kelleher connected on a feed from Slonaker after 1:17 elapsed while the hosts quickly evened the score at six. MIT responded by rattling off eights shots but seven were turned away by the Massachusetts Maritime goalie. The Buccaneers, meanwhile, made three charges at net as their final bid was stopped by Rullan and led to Kramer's goal.

The game was played in memory of fallen MIT Police Officer Sean Collier, who lost his life in the line of duty on April 18. The Massachusetts Maritime Student-Athlete Advisory Committee raised $650 in donations to The Jimmy Fund that will be made in Officer Collier's name on behalf of both schools.