- Connor Pohlman, Sports Reporter
Men’s lacrosse has season end in semifinals
By: Connor Pohlman, Sports Reporter
The top-seeded Manhattan Jaspers (5–4) took an early lead and never surrendered it as they defeated fourth-seeded Canisius (5–5) 10–5 in the semifinals of the 2021 MAAC Men's Lacrosse Championship Wednesday at Gaelic Park in Riverdale, N.Y.
Kyle Gucwa was the Jaspers’ star of the game, notching a hat trick and an assist for the Jaspers, who advanced to Saturday's championship game with the win. Manhattan will face No. 2 seed Monmouth, who recorded a 12–5 victory over No. 6 seed St. Bonaventure in Wednesday's other semifinal contest.
Liam Walshe pitched in two goals and an assist while Trevor Pelletier chipped in two tallies for the Jaspers. Brandan Krebs made 12 saves in goal for Manhattan.
Five players — junior Mike Penna and freshmen Keegan Kozack, Ryan Furlong, Hunter Parucki and Jackson Webster — accounted for the five goals for the Golden Griffins, who saw their season come to an end with the loss. Senior Matt Vavonese matched his season high with 14 saves between the pipes for Canisius.
Manhattan had a strong presence in the contest, never once trailing. Pelletier opened the scoring at the 11:33 mark of the first before Walshe capped the run with a pair of goals just 79 seconds apart to put the Jaspers in a 3–0 lead near the midway point of the opening quarter.
Kozack temporarily halted Manhattan's momentum, closing out the first quarter scoring with an unassisted effort to make it a 3–1 game heading into the second.
Gucwa got the Jaspers back on track early in the second quarter, scoring twice in a 17-second span to make it a 5–1 contest.
"We struggled early on to execute the small details of the game,” head coach Mark Miyashita said. “Just little errors that, unfortunately, we paid the price for with either the ball in the back of our net or turnovers at inopportune times.”
Parucki and Furlong answered back for the Griffs, as the freshmen struck two minutes apart from each other to pull the Griffs back within two, only to see Pelletier complete the first-half scoring with his second of the game to make it a 6–3 contest at the break.
Manhattan maintained control of the game in the third, scoring the only two goals of the frame with Gucwa completing his hat trick and Sean MacKinney following with his first of the evening less than a minute later to expand the Jaspers margin to 8–3.
Webster recorded a goal less than two minutes into the fourth to temporarily pull the Griffs within four, but Justin Malpica countered for Manhattan only 25 seconds later to push the Jaspers lead back to five, the score now 9–4.
The teams traded goals in the last four minutes of regulation, with Penna recording his 10th goal of the season on a feed from sophomore Jackson Naylor before the Jaspers’ Jake Nicolosi closed out the scoring with 1:40 remaining to send Manhattan to the league's championship game for the first time since 2009.
“However, looking at it, we played to the last minute. I'm proud of how far this group has come this year,” Miyashita ensured. “To look at this group and where they've come from since the start of the year and all that they've battled through, I'm very proud of them.”
Finishing the 2021 season at 5–5, this Canisius Golden Griffins team persevered and overcame many obstacles, more than some teams in the past. This team and its seniors are leaving the program in a better place than they found it and they left much to be excited about for next season and in the future.