SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – The Curry College men's lacrosse team fell 25-12 to the hands of the Western New England University (WNE) Golden Bears in the Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) Semi-Finals Tuesday night. The Colonels used all three of their goalies, but could not find an answer for WNE's persistent offense. After the win, the Golden Bears head to the finals with an overall record of 13-5 and will host the game by virtue of their 8-0 conference record in the regular season. Curry's year comes to a close with a final tally of 9-9 after a 4-4 year in CCC play.
The Colonels got the scoring started, taking their first and only lead of the day just over two minutes into the action. Stellar ball movement brought the ball from Cameron Nigro (Scarborough, Maine) to Harrison Fallon (Wrentham, Mass.) to Devin Newell (Medford, Mass.) to the net, giving Curry an early 1-0 advantage. The Golden Bears would not being looking up at their visitors for long, however, as a face-off win led to the equalizer, out of the stick of Hunter Cocks (Walden, N.Y.). Curry's senior face-off specialist Zach White (Milford, Conn.) was injured on the face-off and came off the field limping, but would later return to the game. WNE took their first lead of the day just 32 seconds later, as John Shahpazian (New Providence, N.J.) scored off a helper from Matt Greer (South Windsor, Conn.). With 11 minutes remaining in the first frame, Oskar Djusberg (Abington, Mass) was flagged for the first penalty, giving the Colonels a man-up opportunity. The hosts killed the penalty, however, then kept their scoring run rolling with four more unanswered goals to make it a 6-1 game. As the clock ticked down under five minutes, Kyle Ton (Norwich, Conn.) got Curry back on the board with his first goal of the day, but WNE's Mike Bannon (Edmond, Okla.) got the score back shortly after, sending the Golden Bears to the second half with a 7-2 edge, thanks largely in part to eight face-off wins on ten tries.
As the second quarter got underway, the hosts continued to stretch their lead, as Jared Ward (Littleton, Mass.) assisted scores from both Djusberg and Bannon to extend the lead to seven. Ton netted the first Colonel goal of the second stanza to make it 9-3, but three more Golden Bear goals over the next five minutes kept WNE several steps ahead. With three minutes remaining in the first half, Fallon gave Curry a boost, capitalizing on back-to-back WNE penalties to make it 12-5 with a pair of man-up goals. Djusberg got one back with the last Golden Bear goal before the break, but markers from Matthew Scahill (Gales Ferry, Conn.) and Andrew DeLeary (Wakefield, Mass.) breathed new life into the Colonels as they brought a 13-7 score into halftime.
Despite scoring four of the last five goals, Curry struggled to carry that momentum into the second half. Shahpazian converted a man-up opportunity just 24 seconds into the third quarter before consecutive scores by Ward, separated by just eight seconds, brought the lead back to nine at 16-7. DeLeary connected with Newell to break the run, despite being a man down, but Ward got back on the score sheet, dishing a helper to Greer to get the goal back. The teams swapped tallies again as Newell and Ward found their ways past their opposing goalies, but Ward collected another point with an assist to Bannon to give the Golden Bears their first 10 score lead of the day, while giving Ward his fifth point of the quarter. Nigro and Shahpazian put in the last two goals of the third quarter, but WNE moved to the final frame firmly in control at 20-10.
The final quarter got off to a quiet start, as the hosts worked the clock, but Urbano cut into the lead with a tally to make it 20-11. However, Shahpazian, Jared Newall (Stratford, Conn.), Cocks, and Noah Rust (Windham, N.H.) each answered with WNE goals to make the lead fairly insurmountable at 24-11 with eight and a half minutes remaining in the contest. Scahill and Conor Tracy (Walpole, Mass.) traded scores to bring the deficit back to 13 with six to play, before Ton gave the visitors something to cheer about with back-to-back behind-the-back goals, making the score 25-14. Curry threatened for more, but with the clock continuing to run, the Golden Bears secured the ball and held on to it, locking up their ninth conference victory of the year and home field advantage for the conference finals.
Ton topped all of Curry's goal scorers, netting four, while Fallon led the Colonels with five points (two goals, three assists) in the defeat. Goalie Bobby Canaan (Bernardsville, N.J.) falls to 4-4 on the year with the loss, while Sean McCusker (Northport, N.Y.) moves to 13-5 on the season, grabbing nine saves in his 50 minutes in the net. Bannon (four goals, one assist) and Shahpazian (five goals, two assists) each broke the five point mark for the Golden Bears in the win, but WNE's potent offense ran squarely through Ward, who registered five goals and five assists to put up his second 10-point game of the season.
After the loss, Curry's season comes to a close, sitting on a .500 record. The Golden Bears advance to host the CCC Men's Lacrosse Final on Friday, May 3 at 4:00 p.m. against the Endicott College Gulls. Endicott edged out Roger Williams by a score of 12-11 in triple overtime in their semi-final and will hope to carry some of that magic with them to Springfield. WNE topped the Gulls 10-7 in their regular season match-up on April 13, but were held to their lowest goal total and slimmest margin of victory in conference play.