Verdi Leads Men's Lacrosse in Come-From-Behind Win over Clark

Sophomore Luke Verdi
Sophomore Luke Verdi

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Sophomore Luke Verdi (Middletown, Md.) fueled a three-goal rally with an assist and two goals, including the game-winner with one minute left, as the MIT men's lacrosse team came from behind to defeat Clark University, 11-10, on Saturday afternoon. In the back-and-forth NEWMAC opener that featured five ties and three lead changes, Verdi finished with a game-high five points on three goals and two assists for the Engineers (4-4, 1-0 NEWMAC). The Cougars (4-3, 0-1 NEWMAC) were led by freshman John Goracy's (Lumberton, N.J.) hat-trick as he also picked up six groundballs.

Clark got on the board first when sophomore Rob Holden (East Longmeadow, Mass.) connected on a feed from junior Peter Christiansen (Seattle, Wash.) after 54 seconds expired. Verdi then set up sophomore Jonah Hessels (Laytonsville, Md.) for the equalizer at the 10:50 mark before Hessels found the back of net in the next 1:05 to give MIT a slight edge. The Cougars quickly responded with a strike from sophomore Ryan Moore (West Hartford, Conn.) to even the score at two a minute later. A defensive battle ensued for the remainder of the quarter until a solo effort by freshman Harris Stolzenberg (Weston, Fla.) gave MIT a 3-2 lead with 25 seconds on the clock.

Both teams traded goals in the second stanza, moving the score to 5-4 at the intermission. Junior Chris Cook (Tully, N.Y.) registered the first marker for the Engineers following five minutes of action and later found Stolzenberg for a man-up tally with 6:13 remaining. Clark, meanwhile, saw junior Keegan Callahan (Tewksbury, Mass.) go to goal shortly after MIT's first tally while a blast from Goracy 1:25 before halftime kept the visitors within striking distance.

In the third quarter, strikes by freshman Michael Traub (Aliso Viejo, Calif.) and Verdi gave the Engineers their largest advantage of the day (7-4) at the 9:38 mark. Junior Ryan Marsh (Oyster Bay, N.Y.) won the ensuing faceoff for the Cougars, collected the groundball, and found freshman Nick Johnson (Amherst, Mass.) for the score in a seven-second span. MIT continued to attack, generating six shots, with two on net, but a turnover eventually led to Johnson setting up Goracy with 3:47 on the clock. Goracy capped off the three-goal spurt and tied the game at seven just over a minute later on a man-up strike that earned Holden the assist.

The Stolzenberg-Cook connection provided a man-up marker that ended the Engineers' scoring drought at 13:51 of the final frame. Clark responded with another three-goal run that put it ahead, 10-8, midway through the period. The tandem of Holden and Christiansen collaborated on the first strike before Christiansen found freshman Darius Jagminas (East Greenwich, R.I.) for an extra-man tally. A caused turnover by Christiansen led to a two-minute possession for the Cougars that featured three shots, two on net, that saw Moore score with 7:20 on the clock.

Clark won the ensuing faceoff and controlled the action during the next two minutes but could not extend its lead as MIT sophomore goalie Eric Bartell (San Diego, Calif.) came up with two of his six fourth-quarter saves. Hessels corralled the groundball after Bartell's last stop that later resulted in an unassisted strike by Verdi with 4:26 remaining. The Engineers won the next faceoff due to a violation and took advantage of the extra-man opportunity as Verdi found Traub, tying the game at 10 at the 3:50 mark.

Marsh emerged with the ball following the faceoff as sophomore Jon Spencer (Hollis, N.H.) tried to put Clark ahead but his shot was off the mark. On the restart, MIT senior Joel Santisteban (Lawrence, N.Y.) caused a turnover that was picked up by classmate Tim Wilczynski (Old Lyme, Conn.). The Cougars kept the pressure on after the successful clear; however, Verdi recorded the game-winning goal with exactly one minute on the scoreboard. The Engineers won the faceoff and managed to keep the ball away from the defense as Hessels ran out the final 20 seconds for the victory.

Cook posted one goal, two assists, three groundballs, and a caused turnover for the Cardinal and Gray while Stolzenberg totaled a hat-trick and three groundballs. Hessels and Traub both had two goals while Hessels tacked on three groundballs. Freshman Cody Jacobucci (Woodstown, N.J.) went 7-of-14 in faceoffs while Bartell collected 13 saves.

Holden notched two goals, an assist, and two caused turnovers as Moore scored twice. Marsh was 14-of-25 in faceoffs and gathered eight groundballs while senior Zach Duffy (Wakefield, Mass.) registered five groundballs. Sophomore Patrick Burke (New Canaan, Conn.) bolstered the defense with three groundballs as senior goalie Kevin Ranta (Beverly, Mass.) tallied eight saves and three groundballs.

Both squads face non-conference opponents in their next outings. MIT will visit UMass Dartmouth on Tuesday, April 1 while Clark will host Plymouth State University the following day.