WATERBURY, Conn. - - A 5-1 stretch in the third quarter helped push the No. 2 seed Chestnut Hill Griffins to win the tightly contested Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference Tournament Semifinal matchup against the No. 3 seed Wilmington University men's lacrosse team, 12-8, on Friday afternoon at LaMoy Field.
It is the third consecutive year that the Griffins have knocked the Wildcats out of the CACC Tournament, with the two previous years coming in the CACC Tournament Championship game.
Much like the regular season matchup, the Griffins (10-4) started fast, jumping out to a 3-1 lead. But the Wildcats kept it close in the first half, tying the game with back-to-back goals by Giovanni Marion to end the first quarter.
The lone goal of the second quarter came from Chestnut Hill, as the NCAA Division II's second ranked scoring defense and the nation's leading goalkeeper in save percentage kept the Wildcats off the board. The Griffins led 4-3 at the halftime break.
Matt Kracyla tied the game, 4-4, with 12:10 to play in the third quarter, but then the Griffins went on a 5-1 run to open a 9-5 lead. The Griffins scored back-to-back goals but then Jacob Herman scored an unassisted goal to make it 6-5 with 7:43 to play. But then the Griffins scored three straight, taking a 9-5 lead with 32 seconds left in the third. The Wildcats won the ensuing face-off and TJ Caton buried the quick shot, to end the run and take a 9-6 deficit into the fourth quarter.
But the Wildcats could only trade goals with the Griffins in the fourth quarter, never getting any close than 10-7, and 11-8. Chestnut Hill scored the final goal of the game with 3:18 to play. The Wildcats had an extra-man opportunity following the last goal, but Jacob Herman hit the post and Logan Stinson's attempt was saved. The Wildcats got the ball back and into the attack with a minute to play, but a turnover gave the Griffins the ball back as they were able to run out the clock.
TJ Caton scored two goals while adding two assists and two ground balls. Giovanni Marino scored two goals as well. Jacob Herman scored a goal and added an assist while Quinn Tracy, Josh Lovely, and Matt Kracyla all added one goal.
Nick Bruhn forced two turnovers and scooped up five ground balls while Jaedan Henson caused two turnovers and scooped up two ground balls. Jack Cruz made nine saves in goal for the Wildcats.
The Griffins advance to the CACC Tournament Championship game against Georgian Court. They will be looking for their third straight Tournament Title.