The postseason. It’s 50 percent heroics and 50 percent heartbreak. On Thursday night, Manhattan’s Kyle Gucwa scored the game-winning goal in overtime to break several hundred Marist men’s lacrosse fans’ hearts in a thrilling 13-12 Jaspers victory.
Both teams had chances to win the game late in the fourth quarter but a James Lyons shot drew a Manhattan save and Gucwa missed as the horn sounded to send it into overtime. Dylan Bedell, who was in control at the faceoff “x” couldn’t corral the draw to begin overtime which eventually led to Gucwa’s game-winning shot with just 15 seconds off the clock in the sudden-death period.
Manhattan’s Liam Walshe had the game of his life, totaling eight goals on a night when his team’s season was on the line. Gucwa added two goals for the victorious Jaspers.
Marist (7-8) had ridden a wave of momentum into Friday’s clash but stalled after a quick start in the first half. James Lyons paced the Red Foxes with six goal contributions including four scores. Kellen Pulera notched a hat-trick in the defeat.
In a back and forth first quarter the Jaspers struck first as Walshe put his team on the board two minutes into the game. Marist answered with a goal of their own to even the score from Lyons. Walshe answered back with back-to-back goals of his own. Marist responded as they got three straight goals of their own from Pulera, Lyons, and Senior JoJo Pirreca to take the lead late in the first.
To start the second quarter, Walshe scored the equalizer for his team until Hunter Embury, freshman Sam Ferrel, and Lyons had the Jaspers defense in shambles scoring three straight goals, giving Marist all the momentum.
After going scoreless for more than half a quarter Walshe, yet again would find the back of the net, cutting the Red Fox lead down to two. The two-goal lead would not last very long as Pulera would find the back of the net for the second time tonight, extending the lead to three goals. Walshe would not let his team go down without a fight, scoring his sixth goal in the first half and his linemate Gucwa scored with ten seconds left in the first half to make it a one-goal deficit and snatch the momentum for the visitors.
After an exciting goal-filled second quarter, the third would not disappoint as Lyons scored his fourth of the game to open up the scoring in the second half. Manhattan would not go down without a fight as Junior Attackmen Jack Shanley was able to find the back of the net, cutting the Marist lead down to one goal.
That one-goal lead wouldn’t last very long as Sophomore Attackmen Joshua Balcarcel answered right back for Marist. Walshe loves to respond and he did just that as he netted his seventh goal of the night cutting the lead to one. This game went back and forth and it lived up to that as Pirreca netted his second goal of the night giving Marist the 11-9 lead. Walshe, like clockwork, responded for the Jaspers and he always had an answer as he netted his eighth goal of the night cutting the Marist lead to one to end the fourth.’
Obviously, the last quarter of play was going to be a fun one and it did not disappoint. Manhattan opened up the scoring with goals from Justin Malpaca and Tadhg O’Riordan giving Manhattan their first lead since the first quarter, 12-11. Marist got the goal they needed from Balcarcel to tie the game up at 12 with under 6 minutes left to play. The Red Fox faithful all stood up at once looking for one last defensive stop from their team and they got just that as the clock went to zero tied at 12.
Marist had its chances but it didn’t go the home team’s way.
Manhattan advances to take on Saint Bonaventure in the MAAC Championship Saturday at Tenney Stadium. The final will start at 10 a.m.
Edited by Jonathan Kinane
Photo from Marist Athletics