March 2, 2013

Owls open season with comeback win over RPI 11-9

            KEENE, N.H. 3/2/13 – The Keene State College men's lacrosse team opened its season with a thrilling 11-9 come-from-behind victory over Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) at Owl Athletic Complex on Saturday afternoon.

            The Owls (1-0) trailed 7-1 late in the second quarter before mounting their comeback.  "We just needed to start doing the little things," said KSC Coach Mark Theriault.  "We're known for being a gritty team and we weren't playing that way."

            Senior Taylor Jette (Simsbury, Conn.) got the game-winning goal with 4:35 to play, finding the back of the net with a low, hard shot from 20 feet out that beat RPI senior goalie James Manchester (Niskayuna, N.Y.)  "I'm not supposed to take that shot, but I felt it and just put it bottom right," said Jette.

            Seniors Taylor Wickie (Fairfield, Conn.), Ian Hart (Richmond, N.H.) and Jette, sophomores Kevin Carey (Mahopac, N.Y.) and Ryan Hart (Richmond, N.H.) and freshman Tyler McKelvie (Acton, Mass.) each scored two goals.  Wicke, Jette and Ian Hart also had two assists.

Senior Wes Rudy (Doylestown, Pa.) had three goals and an assist to lead the Engineers (0-3).

            Keene State started its comeback late in the second quarter. Wicke and Ryan Hart scored two quick goals with less than 20 second to go to make it a 7-3 game at the half.  "We knew if we got the ball and ran our offensive sets we're hard to stop," said Ryan Hart, who scored with 1.2 second to play in the second quarter. "At halftime everyone was upbeat and we knew if we got the ball we'd be fine."

            Looking to spark his team, Theriault also changed goalies, putting freshman Alex Sharp (Acton, Mass.) between the pipes. "You always have to be ready sitting on the bench because you never know what's going to happen," said Sharp, who finished the game with four saves. "The nerves were running through my body, but it felt good."

            McKelvie, another freshman, also played a key role in the comeback, scoring consecutives goals 11 seconds a part to get KSC within two (8-6).

            After Jette scored to tie the game at eight-all, Rudy gave RPI its last lead (9-8) at the 8:55 mark of the fourth quarter. Keene State tied the game on a goal by Wicke less than a minute later.

            That set the stage for the game-winner by Jette that came on a transition play after the Owls failed clear.  Junior Tajh Russell (Agawam, Mass.) added an insurance goal with 3:42 to play.

            "A win like this will help us out in the long run," said Jette. "Hopefully we'll pull it together and have a great season."

            Statically, the game was pretty even.  RPI had a slim 35-34 advantage in shots while each team was 11-22 in the face-off circle. 

            Sophomore Jack Rogers (Acton, Mass.) made five saves in the first half before Sharp took over.  Manchester had nine saves for the Engineers.

            Keene State hosts Salve Regina University on Wednesday (4 p.m.).