WEST HARTFORD, Conn. – The University of Saint Joseph (USJ) men's lacrosse team didn't back down from the defending Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) champion, Norwich University (NOR), fighting admirably for three periods, before falling late, 14-7, on the USJ Lacrosse Field on Senior Day Saturday afternoon.
The Blue Jays kicked things off with a short Senior Day ceremony prior to the opening faceoff. The men's lacrosse class of 2021 included senior captain and attackman Owen LaPorte (Farmington, Conn.), senior captain and goalie Joseph Varagnolo (Centereach, N.Y.), and senior midfielder Brendan Cuddy Jaouen (Wenham, Mass.). LaPorte did what LaPorte does, scoring a team-best two goals for USJ, good for a team-leading 21 on the season (top-five in the GNAC). Sophomore attackman Noah Mocksfield (Colchester, Conn.) also scored two. A trio of Blue Jays scored a goal each, including "The Feeder", freshman attackman Ryan Paltauf (Southbury, Conn.), who also added two assists, junior attackman Matt Guerin (East Longmeadow, Mass.), and 'The X-Man', freshman midfielder Samuel Barbetti (Guilford, Conn.). No one was stopping Norwich's senior attackman Payden Masaracchia (Enola, Pa.) though, who netted a whopping nine goals on the game for the Cadets, scoring nearly as many as he had entering the game on the season (10). A pair of Cadets added two more apiece.
The Blue Jays struggled out the gate, as the Cadets scored five straight in the first to lead 5-0 after the opening period. USJ bounced back though as they have most of the season, scoring five of the next seven between the second and third periods. USJ, who was shutout by Norwich on its home turf last year (13-0), was admirable in their fight, cutting the lead to just two, 7-5, following a LaPorte goal with 10 minutes left in the third period. It was a tall task to dethrone the champs though, and Norwich's experience paid off in this one, slowly but surely pulling away on a series of sensational individual moves from Masaracchia, who put it all on display before the final horn. The Cadets walked out with a seven-goal win, but nothing came easy in this one.
Score: Norwich 14, Saint Joseph 7
Records: NU (4-1, 3-0 GNAC), USJ (3-3, 2-2 GNAC)
Location: USJ Lacrosse Field | West Hartford, Conn.
COACH QUOTE [Andrew Fink on today's performance and his first-ever senior class at USJ]
"Norwich is the benchmark. We were right there [down 7-5], but that is what makes Norwich so good, they were able to score three goals in a matter of seconds. We just really wanted to go out there and play as hard as we could. We will fix some of those mistakes when we see them again [in two weeks]. Senior Day was amazing, to be able to talk about their journey…you have to believe that the growth of the school is coming, and they did, even when the growth was at zero. They still believed in USJ, and had a chance to go out and compete."
- Masaracchia scored nine goals for the game. He had 10 on the season entering Saturday.
- Both teams were a combined 2-for-9 in man-up situations.
- The Blue Jays are now 0-3 when they do not score first, and 3-0 when they do.
NUMBER TO KNOW
26 – USJ tied a season-low with 26 shots. Both games resulted in losses.
USJ – Sophomore Trey McCann (Simsbury, Conn.) was a warrior in the cage Saturday, sending shots back left and right. The only problem? A barrage of shots (49) from Norwich from every angle. McCann did all he could (14 saves), but did allow 13 goals in 50 minutes of action in a losing effort (3-3). Varagnolo started and finished for USJ and allowed one goal in 10 minutes between the pipes. He finished with two saves.
NU – Senior Nick Kandra (Crofton, Md.) picked up the win (4-0), allowing just two goals and making four saves in 30 minutes. A pair of other Cadets split time in the second half and came in and maintained Kandra's pace in goal, allowing only five more goals overall.
BATTLE AT THE 'X'
It was a star-studded stalemate at midfield Saturday, as both faceoff-men waged war over the course of 60 minutes. Norwich's freshman Thomas Muraski (Keller, Texas) edged USJ and 'The X-Man', Barbetti by the slimmest of margins, 13-11, on the day.
The USJ men's lacrosse team is headed to New Haven for a matchup with intrastate and fellow GNAC rival, Albertus Magnus College on Saturday, April 10. The opening faceoff is slated for 2:00 p.m.
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