COLLEGEVILLE, Pa. – The Ursinus College men's lacrosse team saw its incredible season come to an end in an epic NCAA Tournament second-round thriller in overtime, 16-15, to Springfield College at a raucous Patterson Field.
Eighth-ranked Ursinus (13-4), coming off its first Centennial Conference championship and hosting an NCAA Tournament game for the first time, rode the wave of momentum and charged out of the gates, scoring the first six goals in just ten minutes of play. But Springfield (11-9) stayed within reach, using a bounce back second quarter to get within three at the half and erasing a three-goal deficit with nine minutes remaining in the fourth.
After junior Ben Minardi scored a man-up goal with 1:17 to play to send the game into overtime, Springfield's Cameron Glover played hero as he deposited an unassisted goal to move the visitors into a third-round matchup at No. 6 Cabrini.
Ursinus led for a majority of the game until the Pride unleashed a four-goal unanswered stretch in the fourth quarter. Glover's running side wrist shot evened things at 14-14 with 3:43 to go, and Springfield went ahead for the first time when Zachary Schuette won a one-on-one battle after coming around the cage with 2:44 to play.
A tripping penalty gave the Bears a great opportunity to knot the score in the closing stages of regulation. Ursinus did just as Minardi sent a left-handed shot into the net to tie it. Minardi poured in a hat trick for the Bears, scoring all 10 of his goals for the season over the course of the Bears' last four games.
Senior goalie Nick Kirk sent the Ursinus faithful into a frenzy when he made two saves in the closing seconds of regulation. Kirk stonewalled a bouncing shot before miraculously diving across the goal mouth to snag a sitter right on the doorstep by Jack Vail, who picked up the rebound from the initial block. Kirk continued his strong play with 17 saves.
The Bears won the opening faceoff in overtime, but quickly three the ball away, and the Pride worked the shot clock nearly all the way down before Glover beat his defender and sent a high shot past Kirk into the top right corner to complete the upset.
It was a game of two halves as the Bears controlled early and the Pride gained moment as the game wore on.
Ursinus controlled possession with a litany of faceoff wins wins in the first quarter, spurring the hosts to build up an early cushion. Junior Bobby McClure kicked off the scoring when he went top shelf after a successful one-on-one move less than two minutes in. McClure, the single-season school record holder with 59 goals, finished with three goals and three assists.
McClure netted his second as he ripped a low bouncer from long range from sophomore Hakan Atillasoy's helper.
Atillasoy deposited the first of his five goals when he wrapped around the cage and beat the keeper to put the Bears up 3-0. Atillasoy totaled a game-high eight points and concluded the season with 55 goals, second-most in a season in program history.
A couple minutes later, junior Sam Mutz sent a long blast into the back of the net on a pass from McClure. Atillasoy then attacked the net and put a close-range shot in. After a Ursinus shot rang the post, Minardi scooped up the ground ball and ripped it by goalie Cole Finerty to cap the initial outburst.
Springfield's Patrick Watson ended the visitors' scoreless drought with just over two minutes to go in the opening quarter, but senior Brian Casey won the ensuing faceoff and dished to Atillasoy for his third goal of the half.
The Pride added a goal with over a minute to go in the first quarter as the Bears held a 7-2 edge.
After Springfield had gotten to within two, Atillasoy ended the Pride's burst with a point-blank goal with over two minutes left until intermission to put Ursinus on top by a 9-6 count.
Springfield gained life from the X when Joseph Cameron won three straight faceoffs leading to two goals. The first Pride goal of the second half came 45 seconds into the third quarter, and another quick one made it 9-8 at 13:42.
The Bears killed off a pair of simultaneous penalties before junior Evan Scott found Atillasoy on the doorstep for a much-needed goal. But Springfield didn't go away as it scored a few minutes later.
Cole Pecora tied it at 10-10 shortly after with a long-range effort. Pecora led the Pride as he picked up a hat trick and added two helpers.
A trio of goals gave the Bears a 13-10 lead heading into the fourth quarter. McClure gave Ursinus the lead back before senior Andrew Malicki scored his first career goal just nine seconds later, and freshman Tommy Reinhart polished off the spurt with one of his own at the 2:13 mark of the period.
After Springfield stopped the bleeding, freshman Tre Tillman potted his second of the season to maintain a three-goal margin, but Springfield reeled off a hot stretch of four goals from 8:57 to 2:44 to take a 15-14 lead. That set up the frantic closing stretch, which unfortunately ended in a heartbreaking defeat.
The Bears held advantages in shots (56 to 47) and face-offs (19 to 15), but Springfield committed fewer turnovers (12 to 8).
Ursinus was without its all-time leading scorer, senior Peter DeSimone, for the final three postseason games due to injury. DeSimone wrapped up his phenomenal career with 121 goals and 184 total points.
The 2019 Ursinus men's lacrosse team began with low expectations under first-year head coach Gary Mercadente. But the Bears defied the odds, recording one of the best campaigns in school history. They finished with eight victories over ranked opponents and earned their first NCAA Tournament bid since 2015.