WALTHAM, Mass. — 10th-ranked Saint Michael’s College (8-5, 7-2 Northeast-10 Conference) clinched the third seed in the NE-10 Tournament with a 5-3 win at 12th-ranked Bentley University.
Chris Demairo led a stout defensive effort with 11 saves, including seven in a scoreless second quarter. Pete Donnally paced the offense with three goals, while Paul Tortora, Jr. and Marty Vanzo each added a goal and an assist for the Purple Knights.
The Falcons were led by Brendan Grant’s two goals, while Steve Caditz added one goal. Mike O’Neil turned away 12 shots for Bentley (6-6, 6-3 NE-10), who will enter the NE-10 Tournament as the fourth seed. Bentley also entered Wednesday’s game as the top-ranked team in the New England Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association (NEILA) Division II Poll, while Saint Michael’s was ranked second.
Following a scoreless first half that saw Saint Michael’s control play in the first period, and Bentley return the favor in the second quarter, Caditz opened the game’s scoring 5:15 into the third quarter. That was the only lead for the Falcons, however, as Saint Michael’s offense began to click. The Purple Knights scored four unanswered goals in a 7:30 span later in the period, bookended by goals from Donnally. His first goal came just over a minute after Caditz’s, and Vanzo gave them a 2-1 lead at the 4:50 mark. As the quarter wound down, St. Michael’s scored twice in a 42 second span with the goals coming from Tortora Jr. and Donnally with 49 seconds left.
But a goal by Grant with 28 seconds left in the frame cut Bentley’s deficit to 4-2 after three periods.
The Falcons pulled to within 4-3 on Grant’s second goal with 12:41 left in regulation, but that was the final goal for Bentley, and Donnally’s insurance score with 8:30 to go gave Saint Michael’s some breathing room and completed the scoring. Bentley earned a man-up opportunity but could not capitalize.
Saint Michael’s finished with a 35-33 edge in shots, and both teams scooped up 29 ground balls. Bentley won nine of the game’s 12 faceoffs, but committed one more turnover than the Purple Knights in the tightly-contested contest.
O’Neil and Demario made seven saves apiece in the scoreless first half. O’Neil finished with 12 saves in the loss.