Trinity (Conn.) wins first NCAA game
Bantams use 7-0 run to defeat Eastern Connecticut State
HARTFORD, Conn. -- Trinity (Conn.), playing in the program's first NCAA tournament game, jumped out to a 9-1 lead in the third quarter and withstood a late rally by Eastern Connecticut State to win 13-9 in the opening round of the 2012 NCAA tournament on Wednesday. The Bantams, ranked No. 17 in the nation, advance to an NCAA second-round contest against Tufts on Saturday while improving their record to 11-6. The Warriors close their season at 12-6 with their first loss in six games and their sixth consecutive loss to the Bantams to fall to 6-8 all-time in the series.
Trinity went ahead 2-0 less than three minutes into the game on goals by juniors Jeff Hebert and Steve Manning, but Eastern Connecticut senior captain attackman Mike Sullinger cut the lead in half with a goal from junior attackman Christian Leone at the 10:14 mark of the opening stanza. Bantam junior attackman Rob Nogueras ignited a 7-0 run with the first of his three first-half goals, converting on a feed by classmate Nick Shaheen with just over nine minutes left in the first quarter. Junior middie Matt Cohen closed the first half with a rifle past Warrior senior goalie Jamie Tommins from 18 yards away with 26 seconds on the clock for an 8-1 Trinity lead at the break.
Bantam sophomore attackman Chase Growney totaled two goals and one assist during the 7-0 run, including the opening tally of the third quarter to give Trinity its biggest lead at 9-1 with 12:17 left in the third. Leone ended a 30:18 scoring drought for the Warriors with a goal at 9:56, and sophomore midfielder Mike Devine scored for Eastern Connecticut 50 seconds later. The teams traded goals midway through the third frame, and Bantam rookie attackman Matt Hauck fed Hebert for a score at 4:31 and added an unassisted goal with 1:13 on the clock for a 12-4 Trinity advantage.
Eastern Connecticut scored three times in the final 50 seconds before the final break, as Sullinger, senior captain middie Salieu Bolivar, and sophomore midfielder Tyler Fresen gave momentum to the Warriors and cut the Bantam lead to 12-7 after three quarters. Senior attackman Jeremy Cogliano and Leone scored twice more for the visitors to make it a three-goal game at 12-9 with 9:18 remaining in the contest, but the Bantam defense held the Warriors without a goal the rest of the way, and Cohen scored an insurance goal with 2:37 left in the final period.
"We got off to a great start, played very well between the lines, and withstood Eastern Connecticut when they made a run at us," said Trinity head coach Mike Higgins. "We expected a close game, maybe not quite that way, but in the end that's what we got. Our transition offense and our attackmen got us a lead early, and the defense tightened things up in the fourth quarter. It is another exciting first for our program to win an NCAA game, and we have things going in the right direction."
Nogueras and Shaheen finished with four points apiece with three goals and one assist and two goals and two assists, respectively, Cohen and Hebert joined Growney with two goals for the Trinity offense. Bantam senior captain Peter Johnson made 12 of his 19 saves in the first half and added five ground balls, while senior captain defenseman Alex Gottsch notched five ground balls and five caused turnovers. Sullinger and Leone finished with two goals and two assists each, while Fresen had one goal and one helper. Junior face-off man Josh Dubinsky won 18 of his 25 opportunities and scooped a game-high 11 ground balls, while Tommins stopped 13 shots in the Warrior cage.