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GARDEN CITY, N.Y. – In what could only be described as a mirror image of the 2014 Northeast-10 Conference Championship Final, the sixth-ranked Merrimack College men’s lacrosse team avenged last year’s loss in the league title game, appropriately enough in overtime, as sophomore Tucker Schwarz‘ (Tallahassee, Fla.) game-winner with 1:50 left in the sudden-death session propelled the Warriors past second-ranked Adelphi, 13-12, on Saturday at Motamed Field.

Links: Box Score

The Basics
Score: #6 Merrimack 13,
#2 Adelphi 12 (F/OT)
Records: #6 Merrimack (5-0, 4-0 NE-10)
| #2 Adelphi (5-1, 3-1 NE-10)
Motamed Field | Garden City, N.Y.

What They Said
Head coach Mike Morgan: “That was as tough and as hard-fought game as we’ve played in in a very long time. And the fact that it was nearly identical to last year’s league championship game speaks to the level of intensity that we were playing against. Overall, it’s a great team win. It’s never, ever easy playing at a place like Adelphi; to walk in there and come out with a win the way we did speaks to the character and resolve of our guys. Now it’s on us to get back, get healthy and be ready for another tough test on Tuesday at Franklin Pierce.”

How It Happened
Squaring off for the first time since last May’s NE-10 Championship that ultimately saw Adelphi wind up on top in overtime, Saturday’s clash of unbeaten foes was nearly a perfect mirror image of the previous showdown in terms of who scored when. Thankfully for Merrimack, this time, it was the Warriors who scored the game’s last goal.

Merrimack hopped out to a two-goal lead after outscoring the hosts by a 3-1 margin in the first quarter; junior Tim Towler (Topsfield, Mass.) tallied the game’s first two goals before sophomore Max Allen (West Caldwell, N.J.) rounded out the period with his team-leading 21st marker of the year.

Back-to-back goals from senior Kyle Guilbert (Walpole, Mass.) and Towler extended Merrimack’s lead to three (5-2) with five minutes to go in the half, but three uninterrupted strikes from the hosts allowed Adelphi to draw even at 5-all to highlight a combined four-goal stretch in 1:28 of game time.

Towler, however, had the last laugh after scoring with 19 seconds left in the second off a feed from senior Jamie Shand (Massapequa, N.Y.), giving the Warriors a 6-5 lead heading into halftime.

After both sides traded goals in the first six minutes of the third quarter, Adelphi tickled the twine three times in a lightning-quick offensive barrage to close out the frame; all three Panther goals came in the final 1:48 of the period, as Adelphi took its first – and largest – lead of the afternoon (9-7) with 45 minutes in the books.

But that three-goal streak for the Panthers was immediately answered by a trio of markers from the visitors to start the fourth; Allen (1x) and Shand (2x) all scored with a span of 1:05 to push Merrimack back ahead, 10-9, before an Adelphi man-down goal – the first of the year surrendered by the Warriors – drew everyone even at 10-10 with just over 10 minutes to go.

Towler immediately atoned for that man-down goal by scoring on that same extra-man opportunity with 9:58 on the clock, and then four minutes later it was Allen finding the back of the net to put Merrimack ahead by two (12-10) with 5:52 remaining.

Adelphi refused to go quietly, as reigning NE-10 Player of the Year Salvatore Tuttle scored his second of the game to get the Panthers to within one before Jamie McAndrew tied it again with 2:15 to go.

The Panthers won the ensuing faceoff, but sophomore goalkeeper Dom Madonna (Liverpool, N.Y.) came up with one of his season-high 17 saves of the game at the best possible time. Then, a late penalty against the Panthers gave Merrimack a chance to win it at the end of regulation; the Warriors’ man-up offense tried to generate a late look but was held off the board to send the game to overtime yet again.

This time, however, there would be no heartbreak; Adelphi would win the only faceoff of overtime, but Madonna stopped the only shot the Panthers would generate in overtime. Halfway through the period, Merrimack came down into the Adelphi end looking to end it, and off a restart, Schwarz carried the ball into the center of the offensive zone from behind the net, spun and found nothing but net, giving the Warriors their first-ever win against Adelphi on Long Island.

Inside The Numbers

  • Towler’s six goals led the Merrimack offense and were a new career-high for the junior, whose previous single-game best was a five-goal output last April 29 against Saint Anselm in the NE-10 Quarterfinals
  • Merrimack’s other multi-goal scorers were Shand (2), Schwarz (2) and Allen (2), while Guilbert accounted for the lone remaining Merrimack marker
  • Schwarz finished with five points (2g, 3a), while junior Ryan Poirier (Portsmouth, R.I.) added a pair of assists as well
  • Sophomore John Bassett (Clifton Park, N.Y.) and junior Scott Corcoran (Haverhill, Mass.) also added an assist each
  • Madonna’s 17 saves tied his previous career-high; the only other time he set that mark was in an 11-10 overtime win at Pace on April 12, 2014
  • Sophomore Brennen Morin (Wilbraham, Mass.) garnered two of the team’s seven caused turnovers and was one of six Warriors to add a disruption against Adelphi Saturday
  • Merrimack outshot Adelphi, 54-42, was successful on 19-of-22 clears, and finished 3-for-7 on the man advantage while Adelphi went 2-for-3

Up Next
Merrimack will remain on the road and will head to Rindge, New Hampshire, on Tuesday for a league bout against an upstart Franklin Pierce squad that is receiving votes in this week’s USILA National Rankings. Game time is set for 3:30 p.m.

Mike McMahon is in his 13th year covering Merrimack College for The Eagle Tribune and is the founder and managing editor of The Mack Report. Mike also serves on staff as a senior writer at College Hockey News. Follow him on Twitter @MikeMcMahonCHN

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