CANTON, N.Y. -- Sophomore back Dan Hunt's hat trick propelled St. Lawrence to a 5-1 victory against Thomas (Maine) in the first round of the NCAA tournament on Saturday at Sandy MacAllaster Field. The Saints, who improve to 16-2-2 on the season, scored four second-half goals en route to the win and will take on the winner of the Wheaton (Mass.)/Plattsburgh game at 1:30 p.m. Sunday. Meanwhile, the Terriers' season comes to an end, as they fall to 12-8-1 on the season.
St. Lawrence opened the scoring in the ninth minute when Harry Copeland headed a pass to Hunt inside of the box, who hit a hard shot over the head of Thomas goalkeeper Mikkail Crockwell. Though the Saints controlled the majority of the possession of the first half and had 13 shots, they entered the halftime break with a 1-0 lead. Thomas' opportunities were limited in the first half, but passes through the St. Lawrence defense to Michael Hand and Dakota Duplissie on separate occasions were both called offsides.
Thomas came out of the halftime break with renewed energy and had several good chances in the early going. The Terriers broke through in the 55th minute to tie the game at 1-1. Sophomore back Kristian Petterson played the ball forward to the top of the box, where Dakota Duplissie headed a pass over the Saints' defense to senior forward Michael Hand. Hand put a shot past Saints' goalkeeper Aaron Costello for his 13th goal of the season.
Momentum looked to be in Thomas' favor at the start of the second half when they tied the game. St. Lawrence, however, would respond in style by rattling off four second-half goals. Hunt scored his second goal of the game in the 56th minute off a corner kick. Provost launched a perfect ball to the far side where Hunt headed a shot into the right corner of the net to bring the score to 2-1.
Three minutes later, senior captain Andrew Bednarsky would score his seventh of the season to give the Saints a 3-1 lead. Harry Copeland's centering pass knocked off a defender out to Bednarsky at the top of the box, and Bednarsky hit a hard shot in the upper left hand corner of the net.
In the 69th minute, SLU sophomore forward Ryan Grant was taken down inside of the box. Hunt put the penalty kick past Crockwell for his third goal of the game and the Saints' fourth.
St. Lawrence first-year Rob Brandell capped the Saints' scoring in the 87th minute, hitting a hard shot into the upper left corner from 25 yards out for his first goal of the season.
The Saints held advantages in shots (26-3) and corners (9-0) in the contest, with Aaron Costello (16-1-2) earning the victory in net with a second-half save. Crockwell made four saves in net for Thomas, but the Terriers couldn't overcome St. Lawrence's offensive attack.