by Matt Morrison | MCLA.us
IRVINE, Calif. -- In what coach Tyler Yelken called the biggest win Kennesaw State has ever had, the No. 5 Owls outlasted No.12 Siena Heights. 7-6 to advance to the Division II quarterfinals of the 2016 MCLA National Championships powered by Under Armour.
“It’s the first time we’ve had a big program win like this,” Yelken said, still wearing his game face. “The guys are excited. We knew coming in it was going to be a battle.”
The victory was decided in the last two minutes of the fourth quarter as KSU held a one goal lead through most of the second half. Late penalties allowed both teams man-up opportunities in the final four minutes when the outcome was decided.
Siena Heights missed four shots on goal when they had the man advantage. The Owls used theirs to run down the clock before senior attackman Cody Clark scored just before the penalty timed out to make it 7-5 in favor of KSU.
The goal was essential as the never-quit Saints stormed back on attack and scored on a Shane Lewandowski strike with 22 seconds to play. Kennesaw controlled the faceoff and was able to run out the clock.
“They (Siena Heights) came out, they battled, played hard and we’re really excited our guys stepped up to the plate,” Yelken said in complimenting his opponent.
Saints coach Ed Maloney gritted his teeth in oh-so-close frustration after he said both teams matched effort, strength and strategy throughout the hard-fought contest.
“Typically, in a game like this, a couple of other things decide it,” Maloney said, “a couple of man-up opportunities we didn’t convert on and you take a penalty or two at the wrong time, you give a team like that an opportunity and you end up with the one-goal difference.”
“We’ve been in these games all year long,” Maloney added. “We came in expecting that experience would carry us over through this game.”
Clark led KSU with three goals including the decisive score in the final minute, although he wasn’t sure how big the goal was at the time. He thought it might’ve been even more crucial.
“To tell you the truth, the scoreboard said 6 on their side and 5 on my side so I thought it was the tying goal. I didn’t even know,” Clark said afterward. “I thought we were behind by one at that point.”
If the offense was timely, the KSU defense was stoic with goaltender Connor Hanson protecting a one-goal lead throughout most of the game, then deflecting credit to the teammates in front of him.
“The defense gave me the shots that I know how to save,” Hanson said. “We practice and practice all the time. They gave the looks I know I can make and it was all good from there.”
Kennesaw St. advances to face No.4 North Dakota State in the D-II quarterfinals Tuesday. The two teams met in the regular season on a neutral field in Nashville with NDSU handing KSU their first loss of the season, 15-10.
“That’s something we learned from,” Yelken said looking ahead to the rematch. “That was a game point this season when we changed who we were and became who we are. We’re really looking forward to that match-up.”
Late Goal Lifts Reinardt, Sinks Grove City
Reinhardt freshman middie Chad Huffman scored his only goal of the game with 13 seconds left in regulation, giving the No. 7 Eagles a dramatic, 9-8 victory over No. 10 Grove City a first round clash. The win sends Reinhardt (11-4) into the quarterfinals where they will face No. 2 and defending national champion Dayton.
The game was as close it could be, tied up after each of the three quarters. Starting the final quarter, the Eagles made an attempt for separation, scoring the first two goals to take an 8-6 lead with 11 minutes remaining.
Grove City (7-5) battled back with a pair of goals with the second completing the hat trick for senior middie Joshua Calhoun, setting the stage for Huffman.
Sophomore attackman Dennis Bell led the way for Reinhardt with three goals and an assist while junior attackman Jeff Mathis chipped in with two goals and two assists. Junior goalie Austin Ambrose had nine saves for the victory.
Lakers Post Workmanlike Performance
In a session with three dramatic one-goal contests, No. 6 Grand Valley State (8-6) took care of business against No. 11 Missouri Valley (11-3), winning 13-7 in the first round. The victory propels the Lakers into the quarterfinals where they meet Concordia-Irvine on Tuesday.
Junior attackman Erick Sundstrom scored five goals and senior middie Seth Kuehnl added a hat trick, helping the GVSU shrug off a brief, first-half deficit and roll in the second half.
The Vikings tried to make a late push, but junior goalie Kyrn Stoddard made five of his eight saves in the fourth quarter.
Jaramillo Sends Reinhardt to Quarterfinals
Freshman middie Tanner Jaramillo picked up a loose ball and took a desperation shot near the top of the box that found the net with one second left in the game, giving No. 8 Lourdes (13-3) a stunning, 11-10 triumph over No. 9 Minn.-Duluth (7-8). With the victory, the Gray Wolves advance to play top-seeded St. Thomas in the quarterfinals on Tuesday.
It was a game of runs, and Lourdes appeared to be comfortably in the lead late in the contest, 8-5, but the Bulldogs answered to tie the game. It was tight from then on out before Jaramillo launched his shot just before the horn sounded.