LEXINGTON, Va. – Despite getting another high-octane performance from the offense, the VMI lacrosse team could not keep Marist Red Foxes at bay. The Keydets fell by a margin of 15-11 in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference match up, but controlled much of the action throughout.
The Keydets offensive unit hit the double-digit mark for a fourth straight game, something the program has been unable to do since 2001. VMI’s offense had another versatile day, with five different players cashing in goals.
Not only was the offense versatile, but it was record-setting as well. After Russell East banged home the game’s first goal, senior face-off specialist Stephen Robarge capitalized on a Marist violation, charged down the field and stuck VMI’s second goal in a four second span, breaking an NCAA record for fastest consecutive goals by the same team. The previous mark was five seconds, set by multiple teams, including three times by powerhouse Syracuse University.
The Keydets were paced by East and Drew Leonard, both finishing with four points. East buried two goals and had two assists while Leonard snapped home three goals in succession and had one assist. Keith Long tallied a hat trick, moving within four of the 50 goal mark for his career. Bernie Mowbray chipped in two goals while Robarge tallied one. VMI got assists from Chris Kitchen as well.
Three Red Foxes tallied hat tricks with Drew Nesmith leading the day with four goals. Jack Doherty and Colin Joka posted three goals each. Connor Rice had a pair as Aedan Herman, Evan Guarini and Mike O’Hagan each had one. Rice finished the day with three helpers while Herman added a pair. Nesmith, Doherty and Brett Bernardo all had one helper each.
“It was a great battle, we continue to have these great battles,” said VMI head lacrosse coach Brian Anken. “I’m not really happy with the way we played in the second half. I think we got out played and outworked … but I take my hat off to a good Marist team. The made some pretty solid adjustments, I thought they executed really well, in the second half especially.
Robarge posted another solid day at the face-off X, gritting out 20 wins on 29 attempts, his third game this season with 20 or more wins. He collected 13 groundballs in the process. The Keydets (1-9, 0-3 MAAC) held a 34-27 advantage in groundballs as Red Fox Zach Badalucco collected six.
For a third-straight game, Matt Lindemann made at least 10 saves in goal, finishing this weekend’s tilt with 11, including four in the second quarter. Lindemann was charged with the loss while Marist’s Craig Goodermote got the win on his five-save effort.
VMI continued to be solid in the clearing game, gaining the offensive zone on 14 of its 15 attempts. Marist went 18-22 in clears, going 7-7 in the third quarter. VMI cleared perfectly through the first three quarters of the game.
Marist’s strong point on the day was its extra-man unit, which struck three times on four opportunities. Nesmith accounted for two of those chances while Herman had the third. The Keydets failed to score on their lone extra-man chance.
VMI jumped out to an early 3-0 lead, capitalizing on East’s and Robarge’s quick strikes. Mowbray’s first tally got the Keydets up 3-0 before Rice snapped home his first just six seconds later on a Nesmith pass. VMI hit two more goals while Marist notched a second at the end of the first quarter.
Marist got two goals early in the second stanza from Doherty and Nesmith’s first man-up goal, but VMI got back-to-back goals from Leonard to end the first half with VMI on top 7-4.
Leonard capped a natural hat trick to open the third quarter just 43 seconds into the fresh half. But Marist slowly began its rally, ripping off three straight goals from Herman, Rice and Joka. Mowbray broke up the run with his second goal, but the Red Foxes (4-3, 2-1 MAAC) answered right back with four more goals to end the third period with an 11-9 lead.
But within one minute of the final stanza beginning, VMI knotted the game at 11-11 on goals from East and Long. Marist ripped off the final four goals of the game to assert a 15-11 final.
VMI will look to grab its first MAAC win since 2009 next Saturday when it travels to Riverdale, N.Y. to face host Manhattan College. Game time is slated for 1 p.m. at Gaelic Park.