Feb. 21, 2010

Courtesy of Jacksonville

For the second straight week, a 10-4 lead was not safe and the JU men's lacrosse team ended up on the winning side, shocking No. 18 Denver in a 13-12 barnburner for the first win in program history.

The Dolphins (1-2) dominated faceoffs all game with freshman midfielder Mike Wallenhorst going 20-28 while the home side assisted eight of its 13 goals in front of 728 fans on a beautiful day at the Ashley Sports Complex.

JU was led by yet another impressive performance by freshman attackman Ryan Serville who entered the game leading the country in goals and points. Serville netted three goals and three assists while four Dolphins also tallied two goals each.

The Pioneers (0-2) were able to jump out to an early lead with the help of four goals in the first half from Cameron Flint.

"This is just unbelievable," said JU head coach Matt Kerwick. "I told the guys coming in that if we play like we practice we're going to be in this game. I'm so proud of their effort today after going down six goals to a really strong, really well coached team. They kept their heads up, fought hard and never gave up."

The Dolphins found themselves down early in the game, conceding two goals in the first five minutes to a Denver team that had travelled down from Syracuse the day before.

JU would answer back, however, in the 6th minute when freshman TJ Kenary took a nice ball from freshman Donovan Lange to draw the Dolphins within one.

The first quarter would end with the Dolphins trailing 4-2 after Serville scored on an unassisted man-up play with 1:24 remaining.

The Pioneers took further control in the second quarter after outscoring the Dolphins 4-2 again, including a three goal run spanning from inside the last six minutes to the final 50 seconds.

The Dolphins looked to take momentum into the half on a man-up goal after an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the Pioneers. Freshman Nick Scalzo blasted a ball home off an assist from Serville to give the Dolphins hope, down 8-4 at the half.

Denver would crush the idea of early momentum for the first-year team with two goals inside the first four minutes.

John Dickenson assisted two straight goals to Andrew Lay and Mark Matthews but JU would find the run it was looking for. Down 10-4, the Dolphins scored six straight goals to even the score at 10-10 starting with a strong goal from freshman Chip Young.

The Dolphins would then receive scores from freshman Donovan Lange, sophomore midfielder Jeremy Tissenbaum, and two from Serville before the barrage was capped off by an unassisted goal from Tissenbaum.

For the last seven minutes of regulation, the Dolphins and Pioneers traded goals until JU found itself up 12-11 with 2:23 left. With less than a minute remaining, Denver took the ball for one final possession. A hopeful shot heading towards goal was blocked with 18 seconds remaining but Todd Baxter was there to pick up the ground ball and complete the easy finish with 15 seconds to go.

Heading into overtime, The Dolphins rallied around each other, clawing for the game winner.

The first two overtime periods saw long possessions for each side with several shots on goal but neither team could put away the clincher.

The third overtime produced more of the same until the final minute.

The Dolphins gained possession and pushed for a winner when Tissenbaum fired a shot from five yards out with 34 seconds remaining but the ball was saved. Freshman midfielder Cameron Mann was in the right place at the right time, however, to scoop up the ground ball and complete a quick pass to freshman attackman Nick Scalzo who pushed the ball past goalie Butex Zander for the program's first win.

The Dolphin bench cleared and dog piled near midfield as the celebrations began.

Senior Brad Hester produced another strong performance between the pipes, saving 10 shots from 22 on goal.

JU and Denver combined for a staggering 95 shots, 46-49, with 52 on goal, 30-22.

Head coach Matt Kerwick picked up the 98th win of his career and first with Jacksonville over Denver head coach Bill Tierney.

For fans that missed the historic day at the Ashley Sports Complex, the game will be made available for viewing on ASun.TV this week.

The victorious Dolphins will head north for their first road game of the year when they face VMI next Saturday at 1 p.m.