RIVERDALE, N.Y. -- The long wait for VMI head lacrosse coach Brian Anken is finally over as the Keydets collected their first Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference victory of the second-year head coach’s career. VMI’s 9-7 win over host Manhattan College snapped a skid of 17 consecutive conference games.
With the victory, VMI (2-9, 1-3 MAAC) logged its first MAAC victory since April 25, 2009 as the Keydets defeated Canisius 12-11. The win also snapped an eight-game skid against the Jaspers, marking VMI’s second conference win against Manhattan.
“It was a lot of hard work in the making and I’m certainly proud of today’s effort,” said Anken of the team’s first road win of the season. “The only thing that really trumps today’s win was the work ethic this week at practice. It’s such a respect we have for the team here at Manhattan. I think coach McIntee is one of the classiest guys in this league.”
The Keydets offense was hitting on all cylinders, scoring in every quarter of the game. Russell East led VMI with three goals while Keith Long tallied one goal but had a trio of helpers. Mickey Hofmeister had a pair of tallies while Drew Leonard matched him. Freshman Mike DeBlasio, a native of nearby Patchogue, N.Y., chipped in a goal.
Proof that VMI’s offense was clicking came just thirty seconds into the third quarter. After making one of his 15 saves, junior netminder Matt Lindemann hummed the ball down field to Hofmeister for his first goal of the day. Lindemann was credited with both the assist and the game’s win.
Seven out of VMI’s nine goals were assisted on the day. In addition to Lindemann and Long, Hofmeister, Chris Kitchen and Bernie Mowbray all logged assists.
Manhattan, which suffered its first loss at Gaelic Park this season, was led on offense by a trio of players with two goals each. Brett Madarasz and Kevin Cox had a pair of goals with one assist each, while Jarvis Tyler had two goals. Andrew Hurst accounted for one Jasper goal. Brian McGrath and and Brendan Rogers had one assist each.
VMI lost the groundball battle 34-30 but the Keydets’ Stephen Robarge went 11 of 19 at the X, collecting 11 groundballs to lead the day. One of the key factors in VMI’s victory came on the extra-man, where the Keydets scored on two of their three chances. Leonard and East had VMI’s man-up goals.
The action was back and forth in the first quarter. The Jaspers struck first on Cox’s unassisted marker with seven minutes to go. But the Keydets came back and tied things up with three minutes remaining in the first stanza. Leonard tip-toed around the cross, receiving a pass from Long for the assist.
Second quarter action was all VMI as the Keydets claimed a 3-0 advantage in the stanza. Leonard kicked things off in the period with his second of the day with Hofmeister on the back end. Long added his first goal of the day with just under nine minutes left in the second. The quarter’s final marker belonged to East, who sent home a laser shot over Akapnitis’ head. Long was credited with his second dish of the day.
After Hofmeister’s goal to open the third quarter, Manhattan (5-6, 1-2 MAAC) scored four of the game’s next five goals, including three in a row to pull within one of the Kedydets’ lead, 6-5. Back-to-back lazers from East all but iced the game for VMI, with his second coming with 36 seconds left in the third stanza to put VMI up 8-6.
The Jaspers challenged in the fourth quarter, striking twice, but their efforts were broken up by DeBlasio’s goal on the assist from Mowbray to seal the 9-6 victory.
VMI returns home next Saturday to host Mercer University. Game time is set for 2 p.m. at the SprinTurf Field, located directly behind Foster Stadium. The Keydets will partake in the Wounded Warrior Project as a part of that game.