Courtesy of the Western New England Sports Information Department.
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – The top-seeded Western New England men's lacrosse team utilized a strong second half performance to earn a thrilling 9-8 victory over second-seeded Endicott on Friday afternoon in the championship game of the Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) Tournament at Golden Bear Stadium.
With the win, Western New England (14-5) secures its second consecutive CCC title and eighth CCC crown since joining the league in 2008. The Golden Bears earn the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament and will find out their first-round opponent during the NCAA selection show on Sunday night at 9 p.m. Endicott's season comes to a close at 11-8.
The Golden Bears were led offensively by junior John Shahpazian (New Providence, N.J.), senior Jared Ward (Littleton, Mass.) and freshman Noah Rust (Windham, N.H.). Shahpazian registered a hat trick, while Ward and Rust scored two goals each. Senior Tim Breau (Lima, N.Y.) and freshman Mike Bannon (Edmond, Okla.) also posted two-point efforts, while senior Hunter Cocks (Walden, N.Y.) won 16-of-20 faceoffs and collected 11 ground balls.
Endicott's offense was fueled by junior attackman Will Clark (Burnt Hills, N.Y.), who produced a team-high three goals. Juniors Ben Clark (Burnt Hills, N.Y.) and Andrew Soucy (Andover, Mass.) added one goal and one assist apiece for the Gulls.
Western New England struck first as Shahpazian tallied an unassisted goal at the 10:34 mark of the opening quarter. The Gulls capitalized on a man-up situation three minutes later, equalizing on a goal by Will Clark, before Rust and junior Brendan Lyons (Syosset, N.Y.) both found the back of the net to put the Golden Bears ahead 3-1. In the final minute of the frame, junior Mike Sudora (Monroe, Conn.) scored for Endicott to cut the visitors' deficit to one.
The second quarter belonged to the Gulls, as Endicott outscored Western New England 4-1 to take a 6-4 lead. Soucy got it started with an unassisted goal at the 12:37 mark, and junior Nick Arcadipane (Groveland, Mass.) put the Gulls ahead (4-3) a minute and a half later before Will Clark capped the 3-0 spurt with 9:13 on the clock. After Shahpazian scored on a feed from Bannon with 4:37 left in the frame to get the Golden Bears back to within a goal (5-4), Will Clark found the back of the net for the Gulls with 1:20 to play to push the Endicott advantage back to two at the break.
Western New England was able to erase its deficit with a strong third quarter performance. Ward buried an unassisted goal three minutes into the frame, but the Gulls responded at the 9:49 mark courtesy of junior Neal Parry (Marshfield, Mass.) to restore their two-goal edge. The Golden Bears outscored the visitors 2-0 over the remainder of the quarter, however, with goals from Rust (9:17) and Ward (4:54) to pull even (7-7) heading into the fourth.
Western New England controlled possession in the fourth quarter, winning 3-of-4 faceoffs and limiting the Gulls to a single shot on goal. Shahpazian gave the Golden Bears their first lead of the second half (8-7) at the 12:26 mark, before Breau made it 9-7 with his unassisted tally three minutes later. Endicott was held scoreless until Ben Clark cut the Gulls' deficit to one with 43 seconds remaining. Cocks came away with a crucial win on the ensuing faceoff, however, and the Golden Bears held on to secure the triumph.
• Western New England is now 7-3 in ten all-time meetings against Endicott with the CCC title on the line.
• The Golden Bears hold a 15-10 advantage in 25 contests vs. the Gulls overall.
• Western New England will be making its 10th appearance in the NCAA Division III Tournament next week.
(Games hosted by the higher seed)
Quarterfinals – Saturday, April 27
Semifinals – Tuesday, April 30
Finals – Friday, May 3
#1 Western New England def. #2 Endicott, 9-8 | BOX
ABOUT THE COMMONWEALTH COAST CONFERENCE
The Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC), founded in 1984, is an NCAA Division III athletic conference comprised of nine full member and one associate member institutions throughout the New England region. Its membership aims to provide student-athletes with a positive experience in their pursuit of excellence through high academic standards, quality competition, and a meaningful student life. The conference administers championships in 18 intercollegiate sports.