MIT Defeats UNE in Triple-Overtime Thriller

Junior Gabe Blanchet
Junior Gabe Blanchet

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – The first meeting between the MIT and University of New England men's lacrosse teams was a memorable one as the host Engineers rallied for a 10-9 triple overtime victory on Saturday afternoon. Freshman Bill Kelleher (Pittsburgh, Pa.) tallied a game-high four goals for MIT while junior Tyler Thomas (Mount Pleasant, N.Y.) netted a hat-trick for the Nor'easters.

Senior Ernie Park (Plainsboro, N.J.) found Kelleher for his first goal of the game while sophomore Joel Santisteban (Lawrence, N.Y.) quickly increased the Engineers' lead. UNE responded with a man-up goal from senior Mike Pennacchio (Peabody, Mass.) and two strikes by Thomas resulting in a 3-2 lead late in the quarter.

The Kelleher-Park connection returned after 1:23 elapsed in the second stanza to even the score at three. The Nor'easters replied with three goals courtesy of solo efforts by senior George Jenkins (Natick, Mass.) and Pennachio along with a man-up marker from Thomas. Kelleher ended the Engineers' scoring drought with 19 seconds on the clock. Following the ensuing faceoff won by MIT, sophomore Ben Hessels (Laytonsville, Md.), Kelleher found the back of the net eight seconds later to cut the deficit to 6-5 at halftime.

The Cardinal and Gray carried the momentum into the third quarter as it registered three unanswered goals to reclaim the lead. Hessels connected on pass from junior Gabe Blanchet (Hadley, Mass.) for an extra-man tally while sophomore Tim Wilczynski (Old Lyme, Conn.) tacked on an unassisted effort with 10:17 on the clock. A defensive battle ensued until junior Sean Burke (Centennial, Colo.) broke through with a man-up goal that was assisted by freshman Jake Slonaker (West Windsor, N.J.) at the 1:42 mark. UNE cut its deficit in half 42 seconds later on sophomore Nick Gross's (Kennebunk, Maine) solo effort and then recorded an extra-man goal by freshman Eddie Burke (Windsor, Conn.) to even the game at eight with three ticks left in the frame.

Senior Dylan Thomas (Mount Pleasant, N.Y.) earned his second straight assist as junior Ben Herman (Brunswick, Maine) put the Nor'easters in front, 9-8, five minutes into the fourth quarter. Sophomore Mateo Pena Doll (Elk Calif.) registered the equalizer with 8:05 on the clock. MIT was awarded two extra-man opportunities around the six-minute mark and with 55 seconds left to play but could not convert. During the same stretch, junior goalie Christopher Rullan (Wexford, Pa.) turned away three shots by UNE to preserve the deadlock.

In the first extra session, junior goalie Jay Letendre (Southington, Conn.) stopped a pair of shots to keep the Nor'easters alive but the visitors were unable to generate a shot on net in the period. Early in the second overtime, UNE received an extra-man opportunity which saw an Eddie Burke shot get deflected by Rullan. Two more shots from the Nor'easters would follow; however, the efforts by Tyler Thomas and Pennachio were wide.

Entering the third overtime with 20 seconds remaining in a power play, the UNE defense successfully kept the Engineers off the board but was unable to gain possession. Blanchet's attempt at net was just off the mark but 22 seconds after the restart he found Slonaker for the game-winner with 2:17 left in the frame.

Hessels compiled 10 groundballs and went 12-for-18 in faceoffs while Rullan collected 16 saves and six groundballs for MIT. Senior Bryan Beller (Dix Hills, N.Y.) posted four groundballs and two caused turnovers as junior Mike Gibson (Natick, Mass.) notched three groundballs and two faceoff wins in five attempts.

Junior Nick McMahon (Westfield, Mass.) led the Nor'easters with six groundballs while O'Gorman picked up five groundballs. Junior Brent Bourgeois (New Haven, Vt.) totaled four groundballs and two caused turnovers as Letendre finished with nine saves.

Next up for MIT (1-1) will be a home game against local foe Wentworth Institute of Technology on Tuesday, March 20. UNE (4-2) continues its road trip on Monday, March 19 at nationally-ranked No. 14 Endicott College in a Commonwealth Coast Conference match-up.