MIT Rallies to Defeat Clark in 2OT, Clinches Pilgrim League Playoff Berth

Junior Sean Burke
Junior Sean Burke

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – With the final spot in the Pilgrim Lacrosse League Championship Tournament on the line for both teams, MIT rallied from a three-goal fourth quarter deficit to defeat Clark University, 8-7, in double overtime on Saturday afternoon. Junior Sean Burke (Centennial, Colo.) netted the game-winner with 33 seconds on the clock, resulting in his fifth goal of the day. Senior Chris Johnson (Amherst, Mass.), who tallied a game-high six points on five goals and an assist, accounted for the Cougars' first five goals of the day.

MIT (7-7, 3-3 Pilgrim) begins its postseason push on Wednesday, May 2 with an opponent to be decided following the conclusion of Pilgrim League action. Clark, meanwhile, finished its campaign with an overall record of 6-8 and a 2-4 mark in conference play.

Johnson recorded the only goal of the first quarter and added two quick strikes early in the second stanza to give Clark a 3-0 lead. A solo strike by sophomore Ben Hessels (Laytonsville, Md.) put MIT on the board at 9:24 while Burke cut the deficit in half almost three minutes later. Johnson gave the visitors some breathing room, but with 32 seconds remaining before the intermission, Hessels connected on a pass from senior Ernie Park (Plainsboro, N.J.) for a man-up goal to once again narrow the gap to one (4-3).

Johnson increased the Cougars' margin after four minutes elapsed in the third quarter and then set up sophomore Jeffrey Wasson (Buckhorn, Ontario) to regain the three-goal advantage. A defensive battle ensued until freshman Bill Kelleher (Pittsburgh, Pa.) redirected a feed from Park to make the score, 6-4, late in the frame.

An unassisted goal by Wasson two minutes into the fourth quarter proved to be the last for Clark as Burke recorded three straight goals to knot the game at seven. Park found him for man-up score at 9:41, which was followed by a solo effort seven minutes later. The equalizer came on a player advantage with 38 seconds remaining in regulation.

The Cougars won the ensuing faceoff which saw senior Phil Winslow (Providence, R.I.) unleash a shot that was stopped by junior Christopher Rullan (Wexford, Pa.) with 21 seconds to go. On the clearing attempt, junior Mike Gibson's (Natick, Mass.) bid for the game-winner was snagged by senior goalie Andrew DeVito (Glastonbury, Conn.) who launched a pass that was intercepted by sophomore Joel Santisteban (Lawrence, N.Y.) at midfield. He quickly tossed the ball to junior Gabe Blanchet (Hadley, Mass.) whose shot was turned away by DeVito right before the horn sounded.

Clark nearly ended the game on a Johnson strike after 1:05 expired in the first overtime but Rullan thwarted the effort. After turnovers by both sides, the Cougars were awarded a two-player advantage with 1:13 left. During the power play, Winslow put a shot on net which was saved by Rullan. Winslow corralled the rebound but he was denied once again with 47 seconds remaining.

Clark won the opening faceoff of the second extra session and quickly called a timeout. Following the break, Johnson and sophomore Ian Daly (Wantagh, N.Y.) sent strikes at the goal; however, they were stonewalled by Rullan. After turnovers by both sides, a miscue gave MIT the ball and resulted in Burke's game-winning goal.

Park finished with four assists as freshman Quantum Wei (Springfield, Va.) and Santisteban both posted three groundballs. Sophomore Tim Wilczynski (Old Lyme, Conn.) chipped in two caused turnovers while Rullan compiled 15 saves and three groundballs.

Senior Matt Fields (Oceanside, N.Y.) amassed nine groundballs and was 15-of-20 in faceoffs as Daly, sophomore Zach Duffy (Wakefield, Mass.), and senior Nick Tobin (Marblehead, Mass.) added four groundballs apiece. DeVito registered 20 saves for the Cougars.