SCHENECTADY — Certainly, St. Lawrence entered Saturday’s men’s lacrosse game with Union hoping to keep its thumb down on the Dutchmen when — it perceived — they were down.
Perception was not reality. Coming off a loss to Middlebury and playing without preseason Player of the Year candidate Peter Burnes, fifth-ranked Union delivered a masterful team performance in defeating the seventh-ranked Saints 12-6 in both teams’ Liberty League opener at Frank Bailey Field.
Burnes, who leads Union with 24 points, on 11 goals and 13 assists, was injured in the first quarter of Tuesday’s 15-9 loss to Middlebury, and was on crutches. But as the Dutchmen proved in recent years, they’re far from a one-man show. And Saturday, back to front, they illustrated that.
That’s not to say certain players didn’t step up their games. Junior attackman Michael Shaw earned career highs in goals (five) and points (seven). Junior midfielder Zach Davis scored a career-high five goals. Faceoff specialist Matthew Paolatto, already one of the best in Division III, won 13 of 16 faceoffs.
Union’s defense, which has been extremely sharp every game except Middlebury, held the Saints to a season low in goals. St. Lawrence hadn’t scored fewer than 14 in a game before Saturday. Defensemen Jack Thompson, Seamus Foley and Clint Gourdeau, along with Union’s known force of its short-stick defensive midfielders limited St. Lawrence’s opportunities all day. Goalie Dan Donahue was solid in making 12 saves.
“I’m very proud of them,” Union coach Derek Witheford said. “They faced some adversity, and they battled through. And beating St. Lawrence, any time, in a league game like that is huge for what we want to do in the postseason, but [they’re] also just such a talented team that we have to play our best, and we played pretty close to it today.”
Freshman Emmett Lyne got his first career start on attack, filling in for Burnes, and he got the assist on the first goal from Davis at 9:48 of the first. It was his only point, but most importantly, he held his ground and got his shots.
“Emmett Lyne, shoutout to him,” Paolatto said. “He did a fantastic job; freshman, stepped up to the plate and performed.”
Union (1-0 conference, 6-1 overall) added goals from Jake Mabardy, Davis and Shaw in earning a 4-1 first-quarter lead.
St. Lawrence (0-1, 6-1) got a boost in the second quarter from goalie Michael Marinello, who made three of his 19 saves in a sequence that robbed the Dutchmen of good chances. The Saints closed the lead to 4-3, but Union went ahead 5-3 on Davis’ third goal with 1:25 left, and then entered halftime with momentum when its defense held St. Lawrence without a shot just before halftime.
Once again, a late Union goal by Shaw on a behind-the-back shot with 1:32 left in the third gave the Dutchmen an 8-5 lead and some important breathing room.
“Without Pete, we knew we had to be a really well-rounded offense and move the ball well. Just play as a team,” Shaw said.
Throughout the day, Paolatto and Luke McHugh, who went 2 for 5 on faceoffs, gave Union important possession. Paolatto grabbed a game-high six ground balls.
“Just to get the ball,” Paolatto said of his mindset. “The St. Lawrence faceoff guy is probably the toughest kid, physically, that I’ve ever gone against. I knew that going in. Win or lose, I just want to give it my all.”
Union also was fueled by the memory of St. Lawrence upsetting it 15-9 at home last season in the Liberty League Tournament semifinals.
“This is a game circled on our calendar since last year,” Shaw said. “They’re our rivals, you know? It doesn’t get more simple than that — we don’t like them, they don’t like us. We took care of business.”
St. Lawrence 1 2 2 1 — 6
Union 4 1 3 4 — 12
St. Lawrence scoring: Mahoney 1-2, Wells 1-1, White 1-0, Murphy 1-0, Hutchinson 1-0. Union scoring: Shaw 5-2, Davis 5-0, Mabardy 1-1, Titus 1-0, Kip 0-3, Lyne 0-1, Greene 0-1. Goalies: St. Lawrence, Marinello, 19 saves. Union, Donahue, 12 saves.
Contact Will Springstead at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @WLSpringstead.
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Categories: College Sports, Sports, Union College