Camels rally for another win in their regular-season finale
New London — Say this about the Connecticut College men's lacrosse team:
The Camels are certainly drama kings.
For the seventh time this season, they were involved in an intense one-goal game on Wednesday.
They came out on the winning end for the sixth time in those tight situations, rallying to beat Wesleyan University, 11-10, in New England Small College Athletic Conference action at Silfen Field.
They trailed 6-1 early in the second quarter before regrouping.
"That was a good comeback for us, for sure..., coach Dave Cornell said. "We're not planning on it. Obviously, you'd like to win by a few more, but I think that says something about the character and the belief of our team.
"The good news is, we're comfortable in those situations."
Cornell was anything but comfortable when the 15th-ranked Camels (11-3, 8-2) came out sluggish and fell behind early.
When 18th-ranked Wesleyan (11-4, 6-4) jumped out to a 4-1 lead, Cornell called a timeout. Standing inside a team huddle, he expressed his dissatisfaction with his team's play.
"I'm a God fearing man, but I don't think I was too happy," Cornell said. "We came out a little flat and a little nervous. We weren't going hard to ground balls and we weren't communicating. ... We just looked a little confused."
The Camels tightened up on defense and showed more patience on offense. Freshman goalie Bobby Bleistein (12 saves) sharpened his game and senior Brendan Scharder controlled the faceoff circle, winning 14 of 24 battles overall.
"We just needed to stay calm," senior John Lyons said. "Things weren't going our way. We stressed all year when we get in a hole, we always battle back."
Momentum started to change with Conn trailing 6-1. Freshman Penn Sednaoui scored off a nice solo run and the Camels eventually cut the deficit to 6-4 by halftime.
"It really picked our bench up," Cornell said of Sednaoui's goal. "Then we made some good tough hard plays after that and that turned the momentum for us."
Conn dominated possession in the third quarter and tied the game for the first time, 7-7.
Still, the Camels faced a 9-7 deficit heading into the fourth quarter. The score was deadlocked at 10-all when Lyons delivered the decisive goal.
Playing his first full game since sitting out 11 games with a knee injury, Lyons made a big impact and helped Conn exploit Wesleyan's zone.
With just over five minutes left, Lyons collected a pass from sophomore Pat Leary, stepped inside a defender and fired it home for the game-winning goal.
"This is my first game back, so it's nice to get a win," Lyons said.
Lyons finished with four goals while sophomore Chad Sawyer had two goals and two assists and Leary had two goals. JR Hartgers added one goal and three assists.
"It's awesome to see him back," Cornell said of Lyons. "He's our best player."
The victory in the regular-season finale allowed Conn to finish in a first-place tie with Middlebury. Since the Camels lost the regular-season meeting, they'll be the No. 2 seed in the conference tournament. They'll host a quarterfinal on Saturday afternoon.
They're shooting to earn their third NCAA berth in the last four years.
"Our first goal is to win a NESCAC championship, so we try not to look too much into the future," Lyons said.
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