The young roster of the John Carroll University men’s lacrosse team had worked to a near perfect record through their first five games. Returning home Saturday, March 15 they once again did not disappoint.
Freshman Stephen Leous recorded his fourth hat trick of the season as JCU held on for an 11-9 victory over the Saint Vincent College Bearcats at Don Shula Stadium.
In their inaugural season, the Blue Streaks have made their home field a difficult place for opponents to play, winning all four of their contests thus far in the 2014 season.
JCU (5-1) caught an early break as a Saint Vincent (0-6) slashing penalty gave them a man-up advantage. Freshman Keegan Flinter struck seconds later at 10:40, burying a shot off a pass from senior Brian Jaszka.
Leous then gave the Blue Streaks a 2-0 advantage with 9:03 remaining in the quarter.
Bearcats senior Sean Kretovics beat freshman goalie Brian Bedell to cut the lead to 2-1 with 5:24 left.
Before the end of the quarter, freshman Michael Roth, Flinter and freshman Declan O’Grady would send shots past the Bearcats goalie to make the score 5-1 after one quarter.
Leous struck early in the second, firing a goal with 13:20 left. Saint Vincent battled back with a goal by junior Bryce Pasquariello, but Leous recorded his third goal while being thrown to the field with 7:45 on the clock.
“We only have six midfielders, so it’s a tight group and we have to keep pushing,” said Leous. “The hard work pays off when you work as a team.”
On the season, Leous has recorded a team-leading 19 goals. After the game, head coach Brian Small was impressed by the effort of his young scorers.
“Sometimes these young guys don’t understand the moment they’re in, which can be a good thing,” Small said. “We learned today that we can keep our composure when teams come back on us.”
Late in the second quarter, freshman Dominic Starvaggi gave JCU an 8-2 halftime lead. Despite the strong first half from JCU, the Bearcats fired home three goals against freshman reserve goalie Kyle Lake in just four minutes.
In the second half, Jaszka and freshman Gary Anile took back some of the momentum from the Bearcats, scoring goals late in the third, but Kretovics and Pasquariello scored to keep Saint Vincent in the game. The Blue Streaks held a 10-7 advantage at the end of the third quarter.
Kretovics scored once more in the fourth quarter, but the Blue Streaks defense clamped down for much of the period. Leous buried his fourth goal, a dagger with 3:21 remaining, to give JCU an 11-8 lead.
JCU outshot the Bearcats 41-31 in the contest, but used their defense to keep Saint Vincent from coming back.
Editor’s Note: JCU hosted Thiel College at 4 p.m. on Wednesday. For stats and a recap of the game, check out jcusports.com.