PHILADELPHIA, Pa. – In front of a crowd of nearly 19,000 fans, the Amherst College men's lacrosse team was unable to match a five-goal fourth quarter by the Cavaliers as the Mammoths fell to No. 6 Cabrini University, 16-12 in the 2019 NCAA Championship Final Sunday afternoon at Lincoln Financial Field.
FULL REPLAY / GAME HIGHLIGHTS / POST GAME PRESS CONFERENCE
Returning to the NCAA Championships for the sixth straight year, and seventh time overall, Sunday's matchup was the first-ever appearance in the National Title game for the seventh-ranked Mammoths, with the program previously being thwarted in three Quarterfinal tilts.
Forcing a shot clock violation on Cabrini's opening possession, Jackson Herrick '20 took advantage of the Mammoths strong defensive opening 21 seconds later as powered a low bounce shot past the Cavaliers' keeper off a dish from Brogan Mahon '19 at the 12:41 mark.
Doubling their lead with 10:27 on the clock, first-year PJ Clementi connected with Jack Norton '19 for the score before Bill Morgan got Cabrini on the board with an unassisted strike at the 8:34 mark.
Trading goals to close out the first quarter, Mahon picked up his 16th goal of the spring with an assist from Matt Solberg '20, while Sean Wagner set the score at 3-2 in favor of the Mammoths at the end of 15 minutes of action with a goal with 30 seconds on the clock.
Capitalizing on a Cavaliers unsportsmanlike conduct penalty at end of the first quarter, the Mammoths bumped their lead to 4-2 at the 14:35 mark as Dylan Peabody '21 potted a man-up goal off a feed from Wolf.
Countering just over a minute a later, Kevin Leyden found the back of the net to make it a one-goal game.
A sprawling save by sophomore Gib Versfeld on a bounce shot by Bill Morgan at the 11:16 mark kept the Mammoth out in front, before Solberg got the edge on his defender and sent a shot under the bar to tally his 47th goal of the year. Finding the back of the net once again at the 8:55 mark, Jon Coffey '20 sent a laser past the helmet of the Cabrini netminder to push the score to 6-3.
Closing out the first half with a 3-0 run, the Cavaliers potted three-goals in a 1:02 span to deadlock the sides at six all at intermission. Tyler Kostack, Jake Huey and Jordan Krug were the Cabrini goal scorers for Cabrini during the run.
Regaining a one-goal edge 1:05 into the third, Herrick drove down the left alley and powered a shot from 10 yards out waist high into nylon. The score was the junior's second of the day and 19th of the season.
Responding with back-to-back goals, Morgan and Krug beat the Amherst keeper at the 12:14 and 11:36 marks, respectively, to give the home team their first lead of the contest, before a well-placed, high pass from Grant Chryssicas '21 connected with Wolf on the back post for the quick redirect 18 seconds later.
Following a Kyle Tucker goal for the Cavaliers, Versfeld set up a Solberg score, making a highlight reel save on a low to high shot seconds before Solberg roll dodged his defender to find the back of the net.
Scores by Tucker and Kostack got Cabrini back out in front, 11-9, before Clementi gathered the ball right of net, faked to cage and found Wolf on the far post after the senior snuck behind his three marking defenders to set the score at 11-10 entering the final 15 minutes of action.
Cabrini pulled away in the fourth to clinch their first-ever National Title, outscoring the Mammoths 5-2 down the stretch to seal the 16-12 victory.
The first two minutes of the fourth quarter proved to be the difference maker in the game, with the Cavaliers stringing together a 3-0 run, including two goals in 10 seconds, to extend their advantage to 14-10 behind goals from Tucker, Brooks (man-up) and Kyle Myers
The teams went goal-for-goal in the final 11:56, with Coffey's conversion on the fast break at the 11:56 being countered by a Brooks goal 59 seconds later and a diving backhanded score by Minicus with 8:32 on the clock being offset by a what stood as the game's final score – a goal from Morgan at the 3:32 mark.
In between the pipes, Versfeld (5-3) registered nine saves for Amherst in the losing effort, while Riley White (12-1) racked up 11 saves in the win.
Solberg, Herrick, Wolf and Coffey led the Mammoths' attack with two goals each, while Clementi's three helpers were a game-high. With six ground balls, junior Jimmy McAfee led all players, while Coffey added five ground ball pickups in a solid all-around game.
Amherst held the edge in shots, 42-41, and ground balls, 37-34, and finished 1-for-4 up a man, while Cabrini owned the advantage on face offs, going 16-for-30, and went 1-for-2 on man-up opportunities.
With the loss, Amherst closes out 2019 as the National Runner-Up and with an 18-4 overall ledger – matching a program best mark for single season wins.
POSTGAME PRESS CONFERENCE QUOTES
- Head Coach Jon Thompson: "Certainly disappointed. We didn't come down here to finish second, but it doesn't take away from how proud I am of these guys for really connecting a community at Amherst beyond just the lacrosse community. The support from our fans was overwhelming to the point where I couldn't believe how such a wonderful game, lacrosse, brought so many people together."
- "I thought it was awesome. I thought the experience was fantastic. What a great host Philadelphia was. What a great host Lincoln Financial Field was. They had a great crowd. We had a great crowd. The crowd didn't play a role in the outcome. The crowd certainly was loud. It was to the point where we had to have hand signals for our offensive and defensive calls, which was fantastic. I'm looking at it, almost 19,000. What a great experience for both sides in terms of the kids, these 18 to 22 years old will never forget playing in front of 20,000 people again."
- Senior Evan Wolf: "Like Coach said, this definitely isn't the result we were looking for, but we're definitely proud of where we got this year. We feel we have one of the very best programs in the country with respect to coaches, player, culture, people behind the scenes. And we feel like this is a place that our team belongs every year. We feel like we compete to get to the championship weekend every year, and it's nice that we finally kind of broke through, and hopefully we will kind of stay at that level, especially with guys like P.J. and Matt really stepping up as leaders of this team for next year. We feel like this is where Amherst lacrosse belongs is competing for a national championship every year."
BEYOND THE BOX SCORE
- Amherst now owns a 13-7 all-time NCAA post-season ledger.
- Sunday's contest marked the first-ever matchup between the two institutions men's lacrosse programs and just the second-ever contest between Amherst and Cabrini (men's basketball, 2013 Elite Eight).
- The Mammoths avenged all three of their previous 2019 losses in their road to the Title game, downing Tufts in the Quarterfinals and archrival Williams in the Final Four. The Mammoths also had to play past Elizabethtown (Second Round) and Wesleyan (Third Round) on their journey to Philadelphia.
- Amherst's 18-4 overall ledger matches a program best mark for single season wins, with the Mammoths previously reaching the 18-win milestone in 2015.
- Sunday's game marked the final game for 11 seniors, with Gab Goncalves, Jamie Smith, Austin Park, midfielder Jack Norton, midfielder and captain Trenton Shore, midfielder and captain Brogan Mahon, defender Kyle Petrillo, midfielder Jack Wolff, attackman and captain Evan Wolf, defender Brendan Routh and midfielder Andrew Ford having played their final game donning the Purple & White in an historic season for the program.