Freshman Cody Bernstein had three goals and three assists, freshman Jake Craycraft scored the go-ahead and game-clinching goals and goalkeeper Sean Donohue made 16 saves, including two clutch stops in the third period, as the Dominican University of California men’s lacrosse team rallied from a two-goal second-half deficit to defeat defending Western Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association champion Colorado Mesa 11-8 on Saturday at Kennelly Field.
The victory allowed the Penguins (3-4/2-0) to move into first place and avenge a bitter 5-4 loss to the Mavericks (3-3/1-1) last April 7 in Grand Junction, Colo., a defeat that denied Dominican of winning the WILA title. It also raised the Penguins’ spirits 11 days after a challenging four-game road trip to North Carolina and Pennsylvania that featured matches against No. 1 Mercyhurst and No. 10 Pfeiffer.
“It was important to lift the morale of our team. I don’t think it had anything to do with us versus them,” said Head Coach Ned Webster. “Yes, we were approaching this game like it was a big game because it was, but the game was about us and our own execution.”
Sophomore Jake Fritz had two goals and an assist for Dominican while teammate Cam Evangelho also netted a pair of goals, the last one a man-up goal with 6:13 remaining in the third period that tied the game at 6-6. Dalton Copeland and freshman Grant Clifford also scored for the Penguins.
The comeback started after Colorado Mesa scored first in the second half against Donohue to take a 6-4 lead, yet Donohue prevented the Mavericks from extending their lead to three goals with back-to-back saves, the last with 8:55 remaining in the third period. Mesa scored only two more goals in the game from that point.
“As Coach Webster says again and again, it’s about forgetting about the last play and looking forward to the next one,” Donohue said. “It took our defense to play together in the second half to get it done. The defense played well together and the offense put it together.”
Dominican, after losing a 2-0 lead in the first period, finally regained the advantage when Fritz scored then, 1:15 later, Evangelho, who is tied with Fritz and Cody Bernstein for the team lead in goals with 12, netted the equalizer with the Penguins’ first man-up goal in the game after four opportunities. Cody Bernstein then scored with an assist from Craycraft, a play Webster designed during a time-out. It put Dominican in front 7-6.