NORTHFIELD, Vt. – Freshman Connor Bourque (Goffstown, N.H.) of the Norwich University men's lacrosse team scored the game-winning goal only 1:59 into overtime, lifting the Cadets to a 9-8 victory over Emmanuel (Mass.) College in the First Round of the Great Northeast Athletic Conference playoffs.
Norwich improves to 10-8 on the season with the victory while Emmanuel, winners of the last three GNAC titles, sees its season come to a close with a 7-10 overall record. The fourth-seeded Cadets advance to the GNAC semifinals, taking on the top-ranked Lasers from Lasell College at 3:30 p.m. in Newton, Mass.
Sophomore Aidan Moulton (Danvers, Mass.) led the Cadets with three goals, firing eight shots in the victory. Sophomore Cody Moore (Canton, N.Y.) potted a goal and handed out two assists while junior Ian Kennedy (Gloucester, Mass.) scored twice and racked up two assists. Senior James Connors (Marshfield, Mass.) was a defensive standout for Norwich, causing three turnovers.
Only nine seconds into overtime, Cadets goaltender Ian Kriger (Burlington, Mass.) made his biggest save of the evening, stoning Emmanuel's Donnie Litzelman only nine seconds into overtime. The Cadets then set up shop in their offensive zone, waiting for the perfect strike. Bourque raced in from the right side, putting home an unassisted goal to seal the victory for Norwich.
Kennedy and junior Nolan Aurelia (Stratford, Conn.) scored back-to-back goals shortly into the contest, creating a 2-0 advantage for Norwich. Emmanuel's Ben Orr and Sam Ward posted goals to draw the first quarter score even at 2-2 – Ward's strike came with the man advantage and was one of four extra-man goals that both teams would combine for in the contest.
Junior Matt Shea (Arlington, Mass.) and Moulton each scored second quarter goals, propelling Norwich to a 4-2 lead at halftime. The Cadets, led by junior Jack Dwyer (Shelburne, Vt.) at the face-off "X", won six of the game's eight draws to that point and fired 27 shots in the opening 30 minutes, limiting Emmanuel to only 15 shots of their own.
Ward scored his second man-up goal of the game, shrinking the Cadets lead, before Moore answered with an unassisted goal at 9:40 to recreate the two-goal lead for Norwich. Donnie Litzelman slowed the Cadets momentum, scoring only 42 seconds later to reduce the Emmanuel deficit to 5-4.
Moulton cashed in with a man-up goal of his own with 7:17 left in the third quarter, but Emmanuel quickly tied the game at six with two goals in a span of six seconds. Tony Cibelli would give the Saints their first lead of the game, scoring only 1:47 into the fourth quarter to create a 7-6 advantage for the visitors.
After extended periods of deliberate play by both sides, Kennedy and Moulton tallied back-to-back markers to capture an 8-7 lead with 5:10 to go in regulation time. A clutch goal by Nicholas Bontempo, however, drew the game even at eight with 2:11 left on the scoreboard.
After winning the face-off, Dwyer carried the ball down field and was completely unopposed. Emmanuel's Austin Rosenberg made an unbelievable save for the Wildcats, creating transition the other way. The Saints ripped a shot off the post with only 17 seconds left in regulation time and the Cadets were able to stave off the heavy offensive attack as time expired.
Kriger finished with 13 saves for Norwich, yielding only eight goals in the win. Rosenberg was saddled with the loss, allowing nine goals on 15 shots. It was the first GNAC postseason loss for Emmanuel since Norwich dispatched the Saints on Apr. 25, 2013 by a 13-8 score in the GNAC Semifinals.
Norwich held the narrow advantage in shots taken (40-to-37) while securing 46 of the game's 80 ground balls. The Cadets also won 13-of-21 face-offs and both teams were 20-for-28 on clearance attempts – Norwich was able to pick up the victory despite committing a season-high 30 turnovers.