SAINT LEO, Fla. – The Saint Leo men's lacrosse team took on reigning Deep South Conference champion Catawba College on Thursday afternoon in Salisbury, N.C. The Lions turned-up the heat on the 12th-ranked Indians, pulling to within one goal of their conference foe with 1:43 remaining in the game, but were unable to upend their opponent as they were defeated by a final score of 14-11.
Saint Leo drops to 1-1, and 0-1 in DSC action, while Catawba advances their mark to 3-0, and 1-0 in conference play.
Matt Obermeyer paced the Lions with a game-high five goals, and added an assist for an afternoon high of six points. Chris Caiazza ripped three shots between the posts, while George Proechel, Rob Van Bomel, and Robert Hutchinson notched one goal each.
The Indians were led by Braden Artem with four goals on the day. John Scheich led the team in overall points, tallying three goals and adding two assists for five points.
The Lions got the game rolling 59 seconds in, with Proechel connecting a pass to Van Bomel for the first goal of the game. The Green and Gold held onto their one goal advantage and kept Catawba off of the scoreboard for the following six minutes, but a goal from Scheich off of a Michael Pecchia assist with 8:57 on the clock knotted the score at 1-1.
Catawba put up three more goals in the ensuing four and a half minutes, pulling out to a 4-1 lead with 4:25 on the clock, and putting the Lions in an unwelcome deficit. However, an unassisted goal from Robert Hutchinson with 3:41 to go in the quarter closed the gap to two with a tally of 4-2.
A late goal by Artem with 23 seconds on the clock gave the Indians a 5-2 advantage at the end of the first quarter, but Obermeyer exploded into the second stanza with a quick tally to pull the Lions back with a score of 5-3. Both teams traded blows to set the score at 6-4 with 9:44 to go before the half, but a three goal sprint by Catawba, including two straight goals by Artem, pulled the Indians out to their largest lead of the game with a score of 9-4 and 1:09 on the clock.
With the seconds ticking down before halftime, the Lions gave it all they had, and a goal from Caiazza off of an assist from Kevin Hutchinson pulled Saint Leo back to within four with 25 ticks on the clock.
A last-ditch effort from Obermeyer with 11 seconds to go came up clutch for Saint Leo, securing a score of 9-6 at the break and pulling the Lions out of a five goal hole.
The third quarter was uneventful compared to the second, with both teams notching one goal each mid-way through, setting the score at 10-7 with one period remaining.
Caiazza notched the first goal of the final quarter with 10:43 on the clock, pulling the Lions to within two, but Catawba capitalized on a man-up opportunity at the 8:34 mark, and scored again 10 seconds later to extend their lead, 12-8.
The Lions were not about to back down, and a goal from Obermeyer with 5:41 on the board ignited a final scoring streak for Saint Leo. Caiazza grabbed a pass from McLaughlin and placed a shot between the pipes with 3:48 to go to pull the Lions back to within two, and a goal from Proechel with 1:43 remaining in the game left Catawba with a slim 12-11 lead.
Despite the pressure, Catawba was able to hold the Lions silent for the remaining minute and a half, and capitalized on two more shot to earn a final score of 14-11.
"We had a slow start," said head coach Brad Jorgensen. "We lost the game in the first 10 minutes. The guys fought hard, and we had some great things happen on the field today. We battled back and pulled to within one goal of a very solid team, which helped show our guys what they are capable of, but we need to be able to play a full 60 minutes. "
Defensively, Patrick Berry saw a full 60 minutes in cage for the Lions, setting aside 12 shots while yielding 14. His counterpart, Michael Pecchia, earned 14 saves while allowing 11 shots between the pipes.
The Lions won the ground ball battle against the Indians, picking up 40 to Catawba's 34. Saint Leo also led the shot count, 42-41, won 62 percent of the faceoffs, and found success on 85 percent of their clears. Beau Besancenez earned a game-high eight ground balls, while Ty Trombly and Berry picked up four each. Trombley was 18-for-29 on faceoffs, while Dylan D'Airo led the team with two of the Lions' 10 caused turnovers.
The Saint Leo men's lacrosse team returns to action on Sunday, February 26, when they take on the Queens University of Charlotte in Charlotte, N.C. Faceoff against the Royals is set for noon. Fans will be able to catch all of the action live through saintleolions.com. For the latest news, updates, and information on the Saint Leo men's lacrosse team, be sure to follow the Lions on Facebook and Twitter.