SAINT LEO, Fla. - The Saint Leo University lacrosse team improved to 4-1 overall after a nail-biting 10-9 win over visiting Queens University (N.C.), in action at a rowdy University Field on Monday night.
The win marks the best start in the program’s four-year history but it would not come easily.
The Lions seemed to be caught by surprise in the first quarter and only managed to tie Queens University after 15 minutes of action as the visitors from Charlotte, N.C. started the scoring on an unassisted goal from Travis Speer with 11:20 on the first-quarter clock.
The Lions would answer just four minutes later on a blast from the stick of Mark Dargon that would even up the game. The back-and-forth game saw Speer score another unassisted Royal goal, only to have Ryan Pomponio score on a laser with less than a minute left in the first after he received a great pass from Chris Storrie.
Saint Leo would briefly fall behind in the second as the Royals punched one in off the stick of Stephen Leblanc, but the Lions’ answer would be an offensive explosion that started with a Kyle Marceau goal just 72 seconds later.
During a seven minute span, the Lions would get goals from Marceau, Dargon, Pomponio, and Benjamin Brigham as they outscored Queens 4-2 in the period and led 6-4 at the halftime break.
A more somber fact was that the second quarter would begin a game-long trend for both teams as each notched numerous penalties. In total for the night, the Lions were flagged eight times and Queens saw the yellow nine times.
After the 10-goal barrage from the first half, the teams would only put the ball into the back of the net three times each in the third quarter.
The Lions would get an early goal in the third from Brigham that would be answered by the Royals just 23 seconds later with a strike by LaBlanc. After Marceau scored again for the Lions at 11:11, Queens doubled-up the Lions for the remainder of the quarter, getting goals just two-minutes apart and drawing to within a goal, but Brigham finished the quarter like he started it, with a goal at the 2:48 mark to put SLU up 9-7.
The fourth quarter would be dominated by aggressive play and more penalties by both teams. After an early goal by Joe Guerin, the Lions would be shut out for the remainder and forced to rely on their defense to get the win. This was a Lion defense that, at one point late in the game, was forced to play with only three defenders, thanks to untimely conduct and equipment penalties.
Despite the adversity, a quickly evaporating clock, desperate shot attempts from the sticks of the visitors and keys plays from the Green & Gold, including ground ball pickups by Pat LoGiudice and goalie David Erdman in the last 68 seconds helped to secure the win.
Erdman finished the night with 12 saves on 26 shots that headed his direction while Queens’ goalie Brandon Macknew posted 14 saves on 36 Saint Leo shots.
Brigham posted the hat-trick for the Lions as Dargon, Marceau and Pomponio would each tally two goals in the game. Guerin dropped that final goal for the Lions, which proved to be the game-winner once the final horn sounded.
The Lions now return to Deep-South Conference action as they face Catawba College on Thursday night. The game is scheduled to start at 7:00 p.m. on the Saint Leo campus and will be carried live on the Saint Leo Lions AudioCast Network.