HILLBURN, N.Y. - - A second half comeback and a game-winner with nine seconds left in regulation gave the Wilmington University men's lacrosse a 9-8 Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference victory over Dominican on Tuesday afternoon at the Torne Valley Complex.
With the win and one game to play in the regular season, the Wildcats (4-7, 2-2 CACC) hold a one-game lead over Dominican (2-11, 1-3 CACC) and the head-to-head tiebreaker, securing a spot in the first CACC Tournament in the program's first season.
Clinching a playoff berth did not come easy for the Wildcats, however, trailing 5-2 at the halftime break after the Chargers scored all four goals of the second quarter.
The Chargers came out of the break and scored the first goal of the third quarter, taking their largest lead of the game, 6-2, with 13:45 to play in the third. But the Wildcats scored quick back-to-back goals from Dylan McCleaft and Josh Burley to get to within 6-4. After the Chargers scored again, the Wildcats tallied the final three goals of the quarter, getting goals from John Novak, Cory Melvin, and Josh Burley to tie the game, 7-7, heading into the fourth. Burley's goal barely beat the clock, coming with one second left in the quarter.
The Chargers again scored the opening goal of the fourth quarter, moving in front with 9:29 showing on the clock. But John Novak quickly retaliated for the Wildcats, seeing just 22 seconds leave the clock before he tied the game, 8-8, with 9:07 to play.
Dominican had chances following the game-tying goal, but Wilmington netminder Noah Given came up with four saves in the waning moments, including stops with 1:55 and 1:02 to play.
A Charger turnover with 48 seconds left gave the Wildcats a chance and they moved the ball into the offensive zone successfully. The Wildcats wound the clock down until Chris Smith ripped the back of the net with just nine second showing on the clock. The Wildcats won the ensuing face-off and ran off the remainder of the time for the win.
The Wildcats were outshot in the game, 41-27, but Noah Given made 15 saves in the win, five coming in the fourth quarter alone to give the Wildcats a chance.
John Novak led the offense with three goals while Josh Burley scored two goals. Cory Melvin scored a goal and added an assist while James Colligan, Dylan McCleaft, and Chris Smith all scored once. Jake Gies finished with one assist.
Kyle Leary and Jon Howell led the defense with two caused turnovers while Noah Given, John Novak, and Jon Howell finished with a team high four ground balls. Chris Smith went 4-for-5 in the face-off circle while Jake Gies went 6-for-14.
The Wildcats round out the regular season at home on Saturday, squaring off against Chestnut Hill. Seeding for the upcoming CACC Tournament is still yet to be determined with one game to play. The opening face-off is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. at the WU Athletics Complex.