May 1, 2009

BUFFALO, N.Y. - For the first time since 2004, the Manhattan College men's lacrosse team will be playing for the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) championship. The Jaspers (10-7) advanced to the MAAC Championship for the first time in five years with a 5-3 victory over Mount St. Mary's (5-10) in the MAAC Semifinals at the Demske Sports Complex on Friday afternoon. Sal Perrotto (Garnerville, N.Y.) had a hat trick for the Jaspers, while goalkeeper John Geagan (Seaford, N.Y.) held Mount St. Mary's scoreless in the first half and allowed a season-low three goals.

In a tight defensive battle, Manhattan drew first blood when Perrotto found the back of the net at the 9:50 mark of the first quarter. The sides went the next 15 minutes without scoring before MAAC Offensive Player of the Year James Synowiez (Owego, N.Y.) gave the Jaspers a 2-0 lead with 9:44 left in the first half. Mount St. Mary's fired 24 shots in the first half, but Geagan made eight saves and held the Mountaineers scoreless through the first 30 minutes.

Mount St. Mary's finally figured out the Manhattan goalkeeper at the 11:53 mark of the third quarter, when Drew Dunn slipped one past Geagan to cut the Jaspers' lead in half. After the squads combined for just three goals in the first three quarters, there were five goals in the fourth quarter, starting with a tally by Christian Kellett that tied the contest at 2-2 with 12:20 left to play.

Synowiez, the MAAC's leading scorer, responded with a man-up tally at the 7:34 mark of the fourth quarter to put the Jaspers in front for good. Perrotto scored the next two goals in finish off his hat trick and increase Manhattan's lead to 5-2 before the Mountaineers' Mike Adkins rounded out the scoring with 25 seconds remaining.

Perrotto's hat trick was his second of the season, while Synowiez tallied two goals for the 11th straight game. Tyler Sabens (Falmouth, Mass.) was the only other Jasper to notch a point, assisting on Perrotto's final goal. Angelo Marrano (Rockville Centre, N.Y.), a Second Team All-MAAC selection, went 6-6 in the faceoff circle, including four faceoff wins in the fourth quarter, and corralled three ground balls. Mike Pisciotta (Massapequa, N.Y.) and Second Team All-MAAC defender Steve Sternberg (Easton, Conn.) each collected three ground balls, as well, and Kyle Moeller (South Setauket, N.Y.) caused three Mount St. Mary's turnovers. Geagan (8-7) made 10 saves in the winning effort.

Mount St. Mary's outshot Manhattan 34-28, but the Manhattan defense shut down Kellett and Cody Lehrer, the Mountaineers' top two scorers. Kellett was limited to a goal and an assist and committed three turnovers, while Lehrer misfired on all eight shots he attempted and committed four turnovers. Brendan Harrison secured a game-high five ground balls and Brendan Flanagan added four ground balls, as the Mountaineers held a 25-24 advantage on the ground. First Team All-MAAC goalkeeper T.C. DiBartolo (5-10) took the loss after making five saves.

Manhattan will take on top-seeded Siena (11-5), a 7-1 winner over Providence in the first semifinal, for the MAAC Championship at 12 p.m. on Sunday. Siena, which is undefeated in MAAC play this season, posted a 16-9 victory over the Jaspers when the teams met at Gaelic Park on March 28. Sunday's championship game will be webcast live at www.gojaspers.com, with Steve Warzala calling the play-by-play. The game will also be televised by Time Warner Sports on tape delay.