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One for the Books: Men’s Lacrosse Captures Program’s First Victory, 11-4, Over St. Thomas Aquinas

Copyright 2018; Wilmington University. All rights reserved. Photo by Frank Stallworth. March 4, 2018 vs. Assumption.
Copyright 2018; Wilmington University. All rights reserved. Photo by Frank Stallworth. March 4, 2018 vs. Assumption.

NEWARK, Del. - - It only took four games but the Wilmington University men's lacrosse team finally has its first victory in program history, defeating St. Thomas Aquinas, 11-4, on Wednesday at the WU Athletics Complex.

A lot of first happened for the Wildcats on Wednesday, including the first four-goal game, the first multiple goal lead, lead after a quarter, and holding an opponent scoreless in a quarter. But the most important first game as the buzzer sounded, as the Wildcats (1-3) earned the program's first victory in its first season.

The Wildcats got off to a hot start in the first quarter, scoring on their first shot just 48 seconds into the contest. Josh Burley netted the ripper for the quick 1-0 lead with his sixth goal of the season. Dylan McCleaft wasted little time to add to the lead, as Burley won the ensuing face-off to gain control once more. McCleaft scored his first goal of the contest with 13:18 to play, giving the Wildcats a 2-0 lead on two shots.

The Spartans cut the Wildcats lead in half with a goal but the Wildcats finished off the opening 15 minutes with two more goals, as Chris Smith and John Novak got in on the scoring. The Wildcats led 4-1 after the first quarter.

The second quarter got off to a slower start for the Wildcats, but McCleaft tallied his second of the game with 5:54 to play before the half for the 5-1 lead before Burley added his second of the day just two minutes later for the 6-1 advantage. The Wildcats won the second quarter, 2-0, for the first scoreless quarter of the year.

Another four-goal quarter aided the Wildcats, as they again scored out of the gates to start the second half. Novak started the quarter with a shot off the crossbar, but the Wildcats kept possession and McCleaft finished for his third of the day just 34 seconds into the quarter. Burley made it 8-1 in favor of the home team just one minute later, finishing off a feed from Cory Melvin for the hat trick with 13:25 left in the frame.

After McCleaft scored his fourth of the day late in the third, Jake Gies got into the scoring column with 3:31 left, putting the Wildcats ahead, 10-2, after three quarters of play

The Spartans scored twice in the fourth, but around the fourth goal by Burley to keep the visitors at an arm's length.

The Wildcats controlled the pace of play most of the afternoon, leading in shots, 44-21, face-offs, 13-6, ground balls, 31-29, and finished with fewer turnovers, 16-13.

Burley led all scorers with four goals and an assist while McCleaft also scored four times. Burley won 12 face-offs, adding 10 ground balls in the win. Kyle Leary and Jon Howell led the Wildcats with two caused turnovers.

Noah Given was outstanding in net for the Wildcats, finishing with 11 saves on 15 shots faced.

The Wildcats will look to carry the momentum into their next contest, as they will face Montevallo on March 24 at the Norfolk Collegiate School in Norfolk, Virginia. The opening face-off is scheduled for 1:00 p.m.