LEXINGTON, Va. – After taking a lead with a minute and a half left, the VMI lacrosse team suffered a heartbreaking 12-11 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference loss against Siena College in Saturday afternoon’s league opener.
Within a span of 43 seconds, the Saints (3-3, 1-0 MAAC) tied the game and picked up the victory. Siena midfielder Chris Roth tallied both the game-tying and game-winning goals. The winner came with only 1.7 seconds left on the game clock.
For a second-straight game, the Keydets rallied from a four-goal deficit. Despite being down 6-2 in the second quarter, VMI came back, utilizing a run of four consecutive goals at the end of the third and start of the fourth to take an 11-10 lead.
The Keydets (1-7, 0-1 MAAC) once again instituted a versatile offensive attack and for a second consecutive game had eight different goal scorers. Freshman Mike DeBlasio tucked away his first hat trick with a career-high three goal. Russell East, the hero of Tuesday’s overtime thriller against Wagner, posted two goals on Saturday. Keith Long, Bernie Mowbray, Drew Leonard, Draius Mills, Colin Bosse and Chris Kitchen all scored once.
Over half of VMI’s goals were assisted, with Long as the only multiple assister for the Keydets, finishing with a pair. Mowbray, senior Andrew Nieminski and sophomore Mickey Hofmeister all recorded one assist.
The big story of Saturday’s game was the efforts of junior goalkeeper Matt Lindemann, who came into the game in third quarter in relief of J Rice. Lindemann, who stands at 6-5, made 20 saves in his first action since the 2011 season finale, also against Siena. He allowed eight goals in the loss. Rice made a pair of stops in his 15 minutes of action.
Siena’s high-powered offense, which put up 22 goals on Tuesday against Hartford, was led by Danny Martinsen’s three goals. Colin Clive tallied a hat trick as well while Roth and Chris D’Alberti each tallied a pair. Roth accounted for Siena’s only two goals of the fourth quarter. His first snapped a nearly 20-minute drought, engineered by the VMI defense.
Bryan Neufield, who had 24 career hat tricks entering Saturday’s game, was held to just one goal in the contest and one assist. Collin Parkhurst accounted for Siena’s other goal. Roth was the only Saint with multiple assists, while, in addition to Neufield, Siena got helpers from Martinsen, Parkhurst, Conor Prunty, Ken Wright and Nate Barry.
Siena held a big 57-32 advantage in shooting, putting 34 of its shots on goal. Neufield and Martinsen combined for 23 total shots, but Neufield was stymied, taking even shots on goal but only finding net once.
The Keydets came up big in the groundball column, grabbing 36 while Siena managed just 20. Face-off specialist Stephen Robarge had a game-high eight. At the X, Robarge narrowly edged out Siena specialist Casey Dowd. Robarge won 14 of the game’s 27 draws.
VMI tallied two strikes on the extra-man attack, one each from Kitchen and Leonard. On the man-down, VMI held Siena scoreless on its only uppers opportunity of the day.
After Siena struck first, the Keydets answered back with a pair of strikes, including Kitchen’s extra man chance.
But the Saints rallied back, putting up five unanswered goals and grabbing a 6-2 advantage. Down but not out, VMI struck three times in a row with three different scorers in East, Mills and DeBlasio. Mills and DeBlasio were assisted by NIeminski and Long, respectively.
DeBlasio found the back of the goal once more before the half as VMI went into the break down one, 7-6.
Much like the first half, Siena came out strong on offense, tallying two more goals to open the third. Long broke up the run with 7:34 left in the quarter, pulling VMI back within two, 9-7.
Clive tallied the Saints’ 10th goal with 4:41 remaining in the third quarter, which would be Siena’s final goal until less than a minute remained in regulation.
VMI took advantage of the Saints’ scoring drought, running off four straight goals to grab its first lead since going up 2-1 in the fourth. Leonard cashed in his man-up goal while DeBlasio, Mowbray and Bosse all had one goal in the run to put the Keydets up 11-10.
Robarge won the ensuing face-off and quickly got down to the offensive end where the Keydets would be forced to stay in the restraining box with the lead under two minutes. Seizing an open-goal opportunity, Robarge went to ice the game with an acrobatic dive across the crease, but the shot was deemed no goal and gave the Saints the ball back.
Roth capitalized on the chances and gave Siena its first MAAC victory of the season.
VMI will look to grab its first MAAC win in two seasons on Saturday when it travels to Jacksonville, Fla. There the Keydets will take on the Jacksonville University Dolphins at 1 p.m.