Crowning Achievement: No. 10 Gophers Handle Rangers
First School to Win Two Landmark Titles in Men's Lacrosse
TOWSON, Md. — Goucher, playing before a crowd of 458 in Gopher Stadium this afternoon, defeated Drew, 10-7, to capture the 2012 Landmark Conference title and secure an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Championship.
The second-seeded Rangers, who made it to the finals by knocking off defending champion Scranton, 15-9, in the semifinals, fell behind 2-0 before the game was even four minutes old. Senior attackman Rory Averett (Ivyland, Pa./Council Rock North) put the Gophers (17-1) up 1-0 by sticking an unassisted goal 1:12 into the contest, and Goucher's second possession ended with senior midfielder Matt Lynch (Ivyland, Pa./LaSalle College) picking up the 100th assist of his career on a goal by junior midfielder Zachary Fratella (Wilmington, Del./Brandywine) at 11:14.
Lynch is only the third player in the history of the school's men's lacrosse program to reach 100 assists during his career.
The Gophers, who were the tournament's No. 1 seed and 13-6 winners over Catholic in the semifinals, opened up a 5-0 advantage by scoring the first three goals in the second quarter, starting with an unassisted extra-man goal by Lynch, followed by Averett's second goal of the contest and then another unassisted goal by Lynch.
The Rangers, however, quickly got right back in the game by scoring three goals of their own in succession, closing to within 5-3 on an unassisted goal by Scott Humphreys with 2:31 remaining before halftime.
An even-strength goal by Fratella with 1:12 left in the period restored Goucher's lead to three (6-3) at halftime.
Two goals — the first by Averett and the second by Boncaro — in the first four minutes of the third quarter had the Gophers, who were at No. 10 in this week's USILA Division III national rankings, back on top by five once again at 8-3. Boncaro's goal, which was set up by Lynch, was his 54th of the season, which broke the former school record of 53 goals Averett established in 2011. The assist was Lynch's 37th of the season, which ties the former school record established back in 1997 by Tim Asher.
An unassisted goal by Steve Gentile with :07 remaining in the third period knocked Goucher's advantage down to 8-5 after 45 minutes, and it was reduced even further when Gentile tallied a man-up goal for Drew 2:22 into the fourth quarter. The Rangers (13-4) could get no closer, however, as sophomore midfielder Pierce Ingram (Austin, Texas/Westwood) produced an unassisted goal with a shot from the right alley for the Gophers at 10:37 and Fratella closed out the scoring when he outraced a defender from the right side of the net to notch his third goal of the contest with 3:34 left to play.
Connor Mishaw (Wilmington, Del./Brandywine), who didn't have to make a single save until after the Gophers had already opened up a 4-0 lead in the second quarter, stopped five shots in each of the final three periods for a grand total of 15 saves. The junior goalkeeper's goals-against average stands at 5.29.
Today's game was a rematch of the finals from the inaugural Landmark Conference postseason tournament back in 2008, a game in which the Rangers came out on top of the Gophers, 8-5. Over the next three years, the Landmark crowned three different champions: the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in 2009, Goucher in 2010 and Scranton in 2011. Goucher is the first school to win two Landmark titles in the sport of men's lacrosse.
The Gophers' first-round opponent in the NCAA Division III playoffs, as well as the site of the game, will not be known until the entire 28-team bracket is revealed Sunday night.