NORTHFIELD, Vt. – There may not have been a better litmus test to open the season than playing the team that ended the Norwich University men's lacrosse team's previous season in the NCAA Tournament. On Wednesday afternoon, the Cadets suffered a similar fate as the team was edged out once again by New England College, 12-11.
This was the earliest in program history that Norwich has been able to host a home game on Sabine Field, but the early start still was insufficient to end a run of 23-straight wins by the Pilgrims.
Norwich (0-1) looked great out of the gates opening up an early two-goal lead on the strength of goals from sophomore attackman Parker Campbell (Rockaway, N.J.) and senior midfielder Russell Gilligan (Fountain Hills, Ariz.). Campbell raced out from behind the net gaining the angle on his defender before ripping a shot past the NEC netminder while falling away from goal. Gilligan made it 2-0 after collecting a pass from senior John Jennings (Riva, Md.) and ripping a shot from between the hash marks from 25-yards out that found the bottom left corner of the net.
The early momentum shifted when New England College (2-0) got on the board with a man-up goal from Patrick Storie at the 5:15 mark of the first quarter. Connor Smith and Storie combined to tally seven-straight goals to take the game into halftime with the Pilgrims leading 7-2.
Storie face dodged his defender down low and then rolled across the crease beating Cadets' junior goalie Nick Kandra (Crofton, Md.) stick side to get on the board. Smith pulled out some razzle-dazzle on the game's second goal with a no-look shot after a spin moved behind the net freed him of his defender to knot the game at 2-2.
Jacob Blanchette set up Smith's third goal and Storie's second goal to put the Pilgrims ahead 5-2 before Storie scored on a pair of solo efforts to end the first-half scoring.
Campbell started Norwich off on the right foot to begin the second half ripping a shot past NEC's Tucker Anglmyer on the man-advantage cutting the lead to 7-3. Senior attackman Jack Anzalone (Ridgewood, N.J.) notched his first of the year after making a nice lefty catch off a cross-field pass from Campbell before burying a shot just inside the near post. The Cadets cut the lead to 7-5 following a clear attempt broken up by senior LSM Peter Orlandella (Wayland, Mass.). Orlandella found senior midfielder Dakota Whitson (Temecula, Calif.) streaking down the middle on the Cadets' clear attempt. Whitson then dished it off to junior Dan Altomare (Myersville, Md.) who lasered a shot into the lower right corner.
A pair of goals from Jordan Osuch and Guershon Villiere re-established NEC's four-goal advantage as the Pilgrims led 9-5 at the 6:19 mark of the third quarter.
Gilligan scored his second of the day on a man-up situation to get back one goal and then Anzalone found senior middie Kyle Maxim (Dracut, Mass.) all alone in front of the net to bring the Cadets within 9-7 at the end of the third quarter.
The final stanza began with Norwich scoring a pair of unanswered goals to knot the game at 9-9. Junior midfielder Clyde Tamburro (Elizabethtown, Pa.) found Campbell in the slot for his third of the game before Jennings scored the third man-up goal for the Cadets off of a feed from Gilligan to tie the game at 9-9.
NEC's Smith scored on a nice individual effort falling away from the goal while being harassed from behind by a Cadet defender to put the Pilgrims back in front, 10-9 with 10:47 to play.
Storie restored the visitors' two-goal cushion depositing a cross-goal feed from Zach Cotoni to extend the lead to 11-9.
Norwich's junior attackman Payden Masaracchia (Enola, Pa.) notched his first goal of the season off of a pass from Campbell to put the Cadets within one at 11-10 with 6:33 remaining.
The Pilgrims' Storie was the hero for the guests as he scored the game-winning goal with 2:50 remaining on a superb solo effort. He was initially stoned on what seemed like a glorious opportunity as NU's Kandra slid across the goalmouth to make an impressive save, but the Cadets were unable to corral the loose ball and Storie quickly found it and popped in his sixth and final tally of the game.
Norwich answered with an unassisted goal from Jennings with 26 clicks left of the clock, but the Cadets could not come up with a win on the ensuing faceoff and the Pilgrims ran out the clock for the win.
Storie led the Pilgrims with six goals with Smith contributing four. Cotoni distributed a pair of assists while Quint Bartush registered a game-high six ground balls for the visitors.
Campbell led the way for the Cadets with three goals and two assists while Gilligan scored a hat trick and Jennings potted a pair of goals. Ward scooped up a team-high four ground balls and Orlandella caused three turnovers on the defensive end.
Norwich will look to get on the winning side of the ledger on Saturday when the team hosts Curry at 1 p.m.