NEWTON, Mass. – Mount Ida College had the ball with a minute left down 13-12, but were unable to break through to find the tying goal and saw their dream of a Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) men's lacrosse championship come up one goal shy at hosts and number one seed Lasell College.
For the first time in program history, the Lasers (13-3) are NCAA Tournament bound, while Mount Ida finishes their season with a 14-5 record and their second championship game appearance in the last three years.
The Mustangs were paced by a six-point attack from John Berry (Chichester, N.H.), who notched four goals and two assists in the effort. Peter Hardy (Tyngsboro, Mass.) and Kyle Ton (Norwich, Conn.) rounded out the Mustangs' multi-goal performances, scoring three and two, respectively.
Michael Susi (Gorham, Maine) continued his solid post-season success, scoring four goals, while classmate and tournament MVP Ryan Madden (Hingham, Mass.) followed with a hat trick. David Sheehan (Tewksbury, Mass.) was a force on defense with four caused turnovers, while Darien Clay (Newton, Mass.) and Connor Johnson (Hampstead, N.H.) combined for 12 ground balls for the home team. Susi, Madden, Sheehan, and Josh Gallant (Hampstead, N.H.) were named to the All-Tournament squad as field players, joined by senior goalkeeper Jorge Salazar (Waltham, Mass.).
It looked as though Mount Ida was poised to take control of the game, seizing a 5-2 lead in the first quarter, with two goals by Berry in the frame.
The Lasers deadlocked the contest at 7-apiece at the break, thanks in part to a 5-2 run via Madden (2), Gallant, Susi, and Alex McCormack-Kuhman (Wells, Maine).
The game would stay tied up until the final 15 minutes of play, as both teams headed into the fourth quarter with nine goals. Susi and a man-up goal from senior Anthony Saitta (Derry, N.H.) gave Lasell a 12-9 advantage for its largest lead of the game thus far, but Berry and Wyatt Sullivan (Arlington, Mass.) chipped away at the deficit to put the Mustangs down by just one, 12-11, with 7:18 to go in regulation.
With 4:27 to go, Clay capitalized on sloppy ball handling from the Mustangs, and set Gallant and Austin Tomasetti (Elmsford, N.Y.) up for Lasell's final goal of the afternoon, leading 13-11. Penalty trouble plagued the Lasers two minutes later, as Ton finished a feed from Chad Coehlo (Salem, Mass.) on the man-up opportunity to again pull the visitors within one.
Zito won the ensuring faceoff for Mount Ida, but Daniel Gorman (Wilbraham, Mass.) stripped the ball from Coehlo in the Mustangs' initial attempt to tie the game once more, before Ida took a timeout with just under a minute left to play. Mount Ida then got the ball back, converted on the clear attempt, and fired off two shots on frame, but Salazar came in clutch for the Lasers, saving both final shots on net, as the 2017 GNAC championship keeper.
Gorman played a vital role in the faceoff X, going 4-for-7 overall, joined by Chase Swift (Branford, Conn.), who won nine in the effort. Zito took all 29 faceoffs for the Mustangs, and came out with 16.
Salazar earned his 13th win in the cage for Lasell, stopping 12 of 24 shots faced for a 50% save percentage. Hayward suffered the loss in net for the Mustangs, and drops to 13-5 overall with 10 saves.
The 2017 NCAA Division III men's lacrosse selection show is set to air live Sunday, May 7 at 9:00 p.m. on NCAA.com.