BUZZARDS Bay, Mass. – Plymouth State used a powerful second quarter attack to take a 6-2 lead into halftime and held off a relentless fourth quarter Massachusetts Maritime Academy attack to hold on for a thrilling 10-9 win in men's lacrosse. The Panthers' defense sealed the win by ensuring only one of the six shots in the final 72 seconds made it on target on a cold and blustery Patriots' Day afternoon.
The visitor won the ensuing face-off, however, and after each time turned the ball over, Plymouth's Griffin Jacobson picked up a groundball and sent the ball to Sam McCoy, who eventually found the right angle and fired home for a 1-1 goal.
The next four minutes saw a series of turnovers upon which Jacobson capitalized, taking the ball off a clear and beating Buccaneer keeper Michael Dolan to make it 2-1 with 2:03 remaining.
However, after a Panther threw the ball out of bounds with the seconds winding down, Trey Guerrini cleared the ball in and found Ben Avakian with six seconds remaining to even the score at two.
It took five minutes for Plymouth's attack to get going in the second but once they did, the net-finders came in quick succession. First was Erik Nome, who took a feed from Sean Peet with Maritime a man down to make it 3-2. A minute later, still with the man advantage, it was Connor Delea for PSU.
Three-and-one-half minutes ticked off the clock before Evan Gennell forced Livermore into a turnover and Charlie Harrington picked up the groundball. The visitors cleared in the ball and Thomas Kelly passed to Chris Waterbury in front of goal, and Plymouth found the net once more.
The final score of the half came just under two minutes later as Jacobson picked up the groundball after Dolan saved a shot by Kelly. After passing to Delea, Jacobson fired home successfully and PSU had the 6-2 advantage.
Plymouth had a man sent off for two successive one-minute penalties, but wo shots near the end of the half for MMA did not find the net and the teams huddled for intermission.
Whatever it was that Head Coach Rick Bagby told his men at half-time worked as Ted Powers cleared the ball and fired to Franklin Ragge, who took advantage of the man advantage to find the net and bring Maritime back to 6-3 after only 43 seconds in the third.
After a series of Blue-and-Gold attempts, Casey Elkins picked up the groundball from a save and drove all the way downfield for a goal at 10:52. Just over a minute later, a Buc turnover led to a groundball for Lucas McCue and the Panthers cleared the ball to Delea, who scrambled until finding time for a shot and sent the ball past new keeper Michael Pierson.
A few minutes later, the Academy's men seized an opportunity after denying Plymouth the clear and Guerrini scored a goal at 7:26. The ensuing face-off was won by one-on-one specialist Michael Sharry, who in uncharacteristic fashion, kept the ball himself and drove straight into the Panthers' D, swinging his stick and releasing the ball perfectly for his second goal of the season.
With momentum finally swinging in the Buccaneers' favour, Kyle Stockman beat Sharry at the ensuing face-off, wrapping up the groundball and sending the ball to Jacobson. The attacker wove around a defender and passed to Kelly to put Plymouth up 9-5.
It appeared that the quarter would end with PSU in the lead as the next six minute saw them control the ball well. However, after an errant pass from the Panthers, MMA cleared the ball in and Ragge had a 50-second firing rampage, finally netting with 54 seconds left.
Maritime kept the pressure on Plymouth State to open the fourth as Sharry once more picked up the grounder. After clearing in, Guerrini fired off a shot and suddenly, the Bucs were within two.
After four minutes of attacks by both teams, PSU picked up a turnover and Casey Elkins assisted Jacobson, who picked up the hat trick with 10:25 left. The goal made it 10-7, but Maritime did not lose any intensity.
Two minutes later, Maritime was back in Plymouth's D and after Guerrini hit the post, Ragge fired wide before the former found the latter for a successful marker and MMA was down by only two.
Despite strong winds and cold temperatures, the two squads battled fiercely over the next five minutes, exchanging a series of turnovers before Maritime finally got close to the net. Guerrini once more bounced a laser off the post and PSU was blown up for slashing. Ragge's subsequent shot went wide, but Avakian brought the ball in and sent it back to Ragge and, this time, the attacker put the ball in the back of the net.
The shocker came with 2:17 left and, after winning the face-off, Plymouth called a timeout. Bagby's instructions must have been to turn up the pressure, because Maritime immediately forced a turnover and quickly cleared the ball into Plymouth's end with 1:26 on the clock.
Those final seconds saw a barrage of shots from Alexandre Lucas, with his third an absolute laser that missed just to the left of goal at 00:29. Ragge then discharged a rocket that Zel Kerkel parried, but Guerrini launched a shot that went high as Bagby called a timeout with 22 seconds left.
Ragge gathered up a groundball with six seconds on the clock and dished to Marshall McCarthy, who unleashed a lethal strike at ground-level that missed by inches as the buzzer rang.
Maritime took an astounding 14 shots in the fourth quarter, picking up 12 groundballs to match. Those numbers increased to a whopping 25 and 23 in the second half, while the full match totals had MMA out-shooting Plymouth 35-23 and scooping up two more groundballs at 35 for the game.
The difference came in two key areas as Plymouth won 13-of-22 face-offs, normally a Maritime strength. And secondly, both teams committed a significant number of miscues, with the turnover margin at 31 for the hosts and 29 for the visitors.
Jacobson led the Panthers with three goals and seven shots, six on target. Seven different players scored, with Delea's two goals and an assist also notable. Kyle Stockman showed off a lively, athletic approach as Plymouth's face-off specialist, gathering in six groundballs as well. Plymouth improved to 6-6 on the season.
The Blue-and-Gold were led by Ragge's four goals as he shot 11 times, putting seven on target. The goal total marked a career best for the sophomore. Powers ran his scoring streak to 13 games with an assist, while Guerrini had the best game of his young career with two goals and a pair of helpers. Sharry had five groundballs as did Keaghan Bartley.
After the superb effort, Bagby's men will have a day to recover from the heart-breaking loss as the Bucs (5-5, 0-3) travel to Clark University for a NEWMAC contest on Wednesday at 7 p.m. Keep track of all Buccaneer sports at www.mmabucs.com, plus get the inside scoop on Facebook and Twitter @mmabuccaneers. Check out our new Instagram as well, @massmaritimebuccaneers!