NORTHFIELD, Vt. - In just their fifth season, the Johnson & Wales men's lacrosse program captured their first Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) Championship with a 9-5 victory over the Norwich University Cadets on Saturday afternoon at Sabine Field.
The number six seeded Wildcats got to the championship by defeating the second and third seed in the tournament and made it very clear early on that they intended to take down the number one seed to cap their underdog run. JWU came right out of the gate and scored three straight goals to silence the large crowd at Sabine Field, as Norwich struggled to find their rhythm on both ends of the field. Cody Moore (Canton, N.Y.) finally got the Cadets on the board late in the quarter with a goal off a Matt Shea (Arlington, Mass.) assist, and Michael Cashman (East Kingston, N.H.) punched one in with 39 seconds remaining in the quarter to make it 3-2 headed into the first break.
Josh Jenkins (Centennial, Colo.) got the Cadets even to start the second quarter with an unassisted goal to make it 3-3, but the Wildcats scored two goals in the final three minutes of the quarter to enter halftime with a 5-3 lead over the maroon and gold.
As it did all day, the potent Norwich offense struggled to get anything going against JWU in the second half. The Wildcats scored four straight goals across the final two quarters while keeping Norwich completely off the scoreboard. Norwich finally found some space in the last minute of play, scoring two goals as time expired, but it was much too little, much too late as the buzzer sounded and the Wildcats stormed the field in celebration.
The story of the game was the Wildcats' netminder Bradley Morris who stood on his head all day long, making save after save to stymie the Cadets. Morris finished with 16 saves on 21 shots faced, as he worked with the JWU defensive unit to keep the Cadets' offensive attack under wraps all game long. Brad Kretz and Max Stone led the Wildcats attack with two goals apiece on the day.
Senior Josh Jenkins was the only repeat scorer for the Cadets, as the senior finished his career with 124 career goals, the second-highest career total in program history. Jack Dwyer (Shelburne, Vt.) dominated on the faceoff dot with a 14-16 day, and Ian Kriger (Burlington, Mass.) provided solid play in net making 12 saves on the day.
The GNAC All-Tournament team was as follows;
Ryan Madden - Lasell College
Austin Tomasetti - Lasell College
Matt Donnell - Saint Joseph's College (Maine)
Tom Lisiecki - Saint Joseph's College (Maine)
Michael Cashman - Norwich University
Zach Adler - Norwich University
Ian Kennedy - Norwich University
Eric Russo - Johnson & Wales
Sam Sears - Johnson & Wales
Ben Farrell - Johnson & Wales
Owen Macca - Johnson & Wales
Bradley Morris* - Johnson & Wales
* 2018 GNAC Tournament MVP
The loss marks the end of the season for Norwich men's lacrosse, as the team finishes with a 13-6 overall record. Johnson & Wales will move onto the NCAA Regionals and will await the announcement of their first-round opponent in the coming days.