By Luke Finneran
On Saturday, April 7th, a North East Conference matchup between the Bryant Bulldogs and the visiting Wagner Seahawks took place at the Bryant Track and Turf Complex, with the beginning whistle sounding at 1:00 PM. This was a key matchup, as the Seahawks (0-3) were looking to spoil Bryant’s chances at the NEC Regular Season Championship, as the Bulldogs were in the driver’s seat of the conference at 3-0.
The game started as a defensive standoff, with Bryant posting the only goal of the quarter with a tally by Jake Buonaiuto, a redshirt sophomore, early into the contest. With the second quarter underway, Andrew Streilein, the leading point scorer for Wagner, opened up the scoring for the Seahawks. He would find the back of the net two more times before the first half was over, giving Wagner a 3-1 lead. Goalies for both teams both made great saves to keep this defensive battle close, allowing only four goals total in the first 30 minutes of play.
53 seconds into the second half, Tom Kennedy, a senior and captain, kick started the Bulldogs by scoring a goal by going down the right side of the field and sneaking the ball past the Wagner goalie low. This brought the Bulldogs within one, and the contest would remain at this standstill until only a minute was left in the third. Kevin Quigley, a junior, scored the equalizing goal, which was then followed by Trevor Weingarten, a sophomore, only 43 seconds later for the Bulldogs to take the first lead of the contest.
The Bryant Bulldog domination would continue into the fourth quarter, as Kyle Cornell, a senior and captain, scored a mere 15 seconds into it allowing the Bulldogs to take the margin of their lead to two. Later in the quarter, two quick goals less than 50 seconds apart by Cam Ziegler, a senior, and Buonaiuto allowed Bryant to push ahead to a 7-3 lead. This was Buonaiuto’s second goal of the contest and he led Bryant for scoring on this day. The last goal of the contest was scored by Matt Heldberg, a junior, who scored for the Black and Gold with only 6:39 remaining. The Bryant defense held strong as they kept the Seahawks from moving the scoreboard the entirety of the second half, and deflected multiple opportunities from the opposition.
The defensive strength came from the goal keeper on this day, as Kevin Beimfohr stood tall in the net and made 11 saves. Strictly in NEC play, Beimfohr has played very well allowing only 7 goals against per game and has a .622 save percentage, among the top in the conference. To keep the stranglehold on the Wagner team, the faceoff specialist Kenny Massa did a fantastic job keeping the possessions in favor for Bryant, winning 13 of the 15 total for the contest. Massa has been spectacular for the whole length of the season thus far, with a winning percentage of .707 which ranks him 3rd in the country.
The Bryant Bulldogs travel to Philadelphia next weekend to take on the St. Joseph’s Hawks, while Wagner travels to Fairfield, Connecticut to play Sacred Heart.