April 5, 2014

Firebirds Men’s Lacrosse Stuns Mercy on the Road, 8-7

DOBBS FERRY, NY – Freshman attack Chase Fraser scored a game-high five goals and junior goalkeeper Tom Yancheski made 15 saves to lead the first-year men's lacrosse program at University of the District of Columbia to a thrilling, 8-7 victory over East Coast Conference foe Mercy on Saturday afternoon.

First, UDC (3-5, 2-3 ECC) erased an early 4-1 deficit in the first period with four unanswered goals to take a 5-4 lead at halftime. Then, with the score tied 5-5 in the third period, Fraser erupted for three consecutive goals to put the Firebirds up 8-5 heading into the fourth period. The Mavericks (7-4, 0-4 ECC) took a whopping 17 shots in the final period, but Yancheski stopped five of seven shots on net, never allowing the game-tying goal.

Mercy won 14-of-18 face-offs and had the edge in shots (39-34) and ground balls (43-33). The two teams combined for 52 turnovers, with the Mavericks committing 27 and the Firebirds 25. Mercy had nine extra-man opportunities - three more than UDC – but each team converted only two.

Sophomore defender Luke Gillespie (Business Management – Maple Ridge, BC/Pfeiffer University) scored the game's first goal nearly four minutes into the action following a Yancheski save and a successful clear by the Firebirds, as UDC took an early 1-0 lead. Mercy responded, however, with four straight goals, including two by Nick Wilcox. But with 25 seconds remaining in the opening period, Fraser shifted the momentum back in the Firebirds' favor with an unassisted goal to make the score, 4-2.

After a little over six minutes of scoreless action in the second period, Fraser netted another unassisted goal. A few minutes later, freshman midfielder Quinton Pavan (Childhood Education – Port Coquitlam, BC/Blue Ridge HS) added his 4th goal of the season  on an unassisted goal at the 5:18 mark to force a 4-4 tie. With only 19 seconds remaining in the period, Gillespie scored his 2nd goal of the game (9th of the season) as the Firebirds out-scored the Mavericks 3-0 in the second quarter and took a 5-4 lead at halftime.

Daniel Speicher forced the third and final tie of the afternoon with the first goal of the third period, an unassisted job at the 13:07 mark. But then Fraser took the game over with three consecutive goals at 12:39, 7:23 and 6:38. UDC took only six shots in the third period, but out-scored Mercy 3-1 in the third period and took an 8-5 lead heading into the final period of play.

Mercy, seeking its first league win of the season, tried feverishly to even the score with a relentless offensive attack. After UDC won the opening face-off of the fourth period, the Firebirds turned the ball over, leading to a successful clear and a goal off a shot from the top of the circle by Kevin Glueckert.

Later around the 11-minute mark, UDC was penalized for an illegal check, leading to a man-up goal  by Chris Lopez on a shot from the far right wing, and suddenly the Mavericks were within a goal (8-7) with just under 11 minutes still left to play in regulation.

Mercy fired five more shots on goal in the next six minutes, but Yancheski was up to the task on all five to preserve the one-goal lead. The Firebirds' defense stiffened at the Mavericks failed to put a shot on goal in the final five minutes of regulation, and UDC held on for the one-goal victory.

Fraser, who finished with five points on five goals, took a game-high 13 shots and collected a team-high seven ground balls. Gillespie had two points on two goals, was 3-of-14 on face-offs and scooped up five ground balls. Kamaal Stanley led the defensive unit with a team-high three caused turnovers.

Yancheski improved to 3-5 with today's victory as he stopped 15 of 22 shots on goal. This marks his 3rd game with 15 or more saves this season and he ranks 2nd in the ECC in that category.

The Firebirds now have eight days off before they host ECC foe Dowling on Sunday, April 13th at 1:30 p.m. The Golden Lions are currently No. 4 in the USILA Division II Coaches' Poll.