By Michael Tufano
The whistle blew and the blitz began. The Bryant University Bulldogs (7-5, 3-1 NEC) took down the Sacred Heart Pioneers (6-4, 2-2 NEC) for their third conference win of the season. The effort was led by senior Brett Baker, who had his first hat trick of the year. His consistency throughout the season has been a key factor for the Bulldogs as he leads the second midfield. In addition, red shirt Junior Kenny Massa was 17-of-22 with 13 ground balls at the faceoff X continues to dominate conference play facing off at 73 percent.
The Bulldogs were off to a quick 3 goal lead in the first quarter that quickly evaporated as Sacred Heart proved they have the ability to score in bunches. The Pioneers tied it at 3 with a questionable buzzer beating shot to end the first quarter. After the first quarter, it was all Bulldogs. Less than 3 minutes into second quarter, after a quick clear by Junior Jake Pellegrino, Jake Buonaiuto found the net to make the score 4-3. Scores by Baker, Ziegler, Forsberg and Kennedy in the second stanza allowed the Bulldogs to go into halftime with the lead at 9-4. 7 different players found the scoreboard in the game which proved to be the difference as the Pioneers struggled to keep up with the pace of the Bulldogs.
“The third quarter has really been a point of emphasis for us all year and we pride ourselves on being ready to go to start the second half,” said Senior Jared Kaden, “scoring 4 straight to their 0 in the third was huge for us today, I really feel like it took the life out of them and allowed us to close this one out.” Ziegler completed a hat trick of his own to kick off the third quarter with a 15 yard step down. Senior Captain, Tucker James found the scoreboard in the third as well with his only goal of the day. In the end it came down to the ability of the Bulldogs to out-condition the Pioneers who only played 4 midfielders in the game. The relentless fast paced play allowed the Bulldogs to eventually net 13 goals to Sacred Hearts 7. The Pioneers scored 3 goals in the fourth quarter, while keeping Bryant off the board. Junior netminder James Werner had 3 huge saves in the fourth to close this one out. The Bulldogs outshot the Pioneers 39-29 and won the groundball battle 35-22. The ground ball game is always a key stat because it allows for extra possessions in the game. The victory puts the Bulldogs at 3-1 in the NEC as they prepare for another key league matchup against the defending NEC champions, Hobart on April 15 (12 p.m). “The season is coming to a close and here we are with three games left, including two conference games against arguably the two best teams in the league,” said Pressler. “So the sense of finality is getting closer and closer, but we are playing our best lacrosse right now.”