LEXINGTON, Va. — In a back-and-forth game that featured four ties and five lead changes, the Virginia Military Institute lacrosse team fell 11-8 in its home opener Saturday afternoon against former conference foe Mount St. Mary’s University at Drill Field #2.
VMI (0-3) had a well-balanced scoring effort, with seven different Keydets potting goals. It was the first time since March 12, 2013 VMI had at least seven different goal scorers.
The Keydets got a pair of goals from senior attackman Mike DeBlasio, while Brad Biondello, Brad Nardella, Ben Huger, Wesley Sanders and Tyler Prasnicki all struck once. Biondello, DeBlasio and Nardella also had assists in the game.
Mount St. Mary’s (1-0) was paced by a hat trick from Mike Moynihan as Clayton Wainer and Mike Pascali struck twice each. Spencer Smith, Bubba Johnson, Ryan Lamon and Evan Gormley all tallied one goal. Smith had two assists while Wainer and Brent Tsang had one helper apiece.
“Probably disappointing, but optimistic. Optimistic probably isn’t the right word as much as excited as we are after what we saw today,” said VMI head coach Brian Anken, who coached his fifth home opener at VMI. “We played two great teams like Army and Navy a week ago and we had a tough time with both those teams but we collected ourselves at practice and felt great going into the Mount game.”
Evan Windisch played all 60 minutes of the game for the Keydets, his first time doing so this season after splitting time with rookie Joe Riccadonna in the first two contests. Windisch finished with six saves but suffered the loss. Opposite Windisch, Matt Vierhaller made 11 saves to earn his first win of the season.
VMI’s defense played its best game of the season, limiting an opponent to its fewest goals in the early goings of 2015. Prasnicki was a force once again in the defensive third, forcing six Mountaineer turnovers and bringing his season total to 13.
It was VMI’s best effort of the season at the faceoff X as the Keydets won 13 of the game’s 21 draws. Colby Lalicker took nine faces, winning six times while teammate Nate Kraemer was seven of 12. Prasnicki led VMI with eight groundballs and three other Keydets grabbed four.
Both teams scored twice on the extra man, with the Keydets going two-of-three in the second period, aided by a three-minute non-releasable illegal crosse penalty against Mount St. Mary’s Robert Jones to start the second period. Nardella and Huger scored for VMI in the extra man chances.
VMI struck first behind Bull’s third of the season with Nardella on the back end. But the Mountaineers, who won their 14th-straight over VMI, reeled off three unanswered goals for a 3-1 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The Keydets answered back with three straight goals from three different sources to kick off the second quarter. Nardella and Huger scored on the extra man, followed by an even marker from Biondello to put VMI up 4-3. The Mount tacked on two more goals, but DeBlasio struck his first goal of the game with 4:25 to go in the half for a 5-5 score at the break.
Both teams combined for just three goals in the third as Mount St. Mary’s scored the first two, followed by Sanders’ first career goal, making it a one-score difference, 7-6, in favor of the Mountaineers.
The Mount scored twice midway through the fourth quarter in a stretch of two minutes. DeBlasio breathed life back into the Keydets chances with a marker at 5:28, cutting the Mount’s lead to 9-7, but two goals by the visitors in the final two minutes sealed VMI’s fate. Prasnicki notched his first goal since Feb. 16, 2013.
VMI returns to Drill Field #2 for a non-conference game on Feb. 21 against Saint Joseph’s University. Opening faceoff is set for 1 p.m. for the Saturday tilt.