Richmond won a season-high 15 faceoffs and got a season-best 12 saves from freshman goalie Benny Pugh (Powhatan, Va. / Powhatan) to claim its first NCAA lacrosse win, 12-11 over Vermont at Durham County Stadium as part of the King of the Spring Lacrosse Classic Saturday afternoon. The game was the featured college contest to benefit the Ranger Lead the Way fund for Army Rangers serving in the military, and their families.
“I am incredibly proud of our 36 players today,” said Spiders head coach Dan Chemotti. “We have been working really hard. I have never seen a group more focused. It was not about coaching today. It was the players making plays and it was all about them. The whole Lead the Way Fund to raise money for families of Army Rangers was the reason for this and we were proud to be a part of it.”
The Spiders scored the first two goals of the first, before allowing two by the Catamounts for a tie score by the end of the period. Cory Palmer (Atlanta, Ga.) scored first at the 8:22 mark, before Brad Burnam (Nedrow, N.Y.) put the Spiders up 2-0 with 6:29 remaining in the frame.
Richmond then put up six straight goals in the first 12 minutes of the second, including the second of the game from Palmer and Burnam, two from freshman J.P. Forester (Bloomfield Hills, Mich.) and a goal by Mitch Goldberg (Damascus, Md.). Goldberg is the lone Spider with a goal in all six Richmond contests this season.
A Vermont goal with 2:18 to go in the first half cut the lead to 8-3 before Burnam secured the hat trick with his third goal of the game with 1:38 in the half.
The Spiders won all five faceoffs in the first, and four of the nine in the second with freshman Peter Moran (Reston, Va. / South Lakes) for a 9-for-13 opening half.
“We had been struggling at the faceoff X,” added Chemotti. “I was happy for Pete that he was able to win the draw and get the ball out. It definitely gave us good life to go on some runs and let us set some tempo.”
Vermont scored the first two goals of the second half in five minutes of play before a pair of Richmond goals put the lead back out to six.
Over the next 15 minutes of play, the Catamounts scored five goals to put the game to within a goal, but freshman attack Dan Ginestro (Syracuse, N.Y.) scored with 89 second left to give the Spiders a two-goal lead.
Vermont won the subsequent faceoff and scored with 53 seconds remaining, but Richmond’s A.J. Lapitino (Setauket, N.Y.) won the faceoff and the Spiders were able to run out the clock for the inaugural victory.
Burnam finished with a career-high three goals to go with three assists for his best game as a Spider for six points. Moran’s 14 faceoff wins were a career-high as well. Defensively, long stick midfielder Brendan Hynes (Mahopac, N.Y.) had eight ground balls and eight cased turnovers.
Pugh recorded the program’s first win (1-3) with his 12 saves.
“To win games at this level, especially in tight games, you have to get some goaltending and he was awesome today,” said Chemotti. “He solidified the job today. It’s always better when a job is won than when a job is lost and he earned it today.”
The Spiders will head North and face Saint Joseph’s next Saturday, before a Monday contest at Rutgers. Richmond will return home on March 21 to host Wagner for the lone night game at Robins Stadium at 8 p.m.
NOTES: Richmond wore special military-themed jerseys, with a camouflage print in the background, and military-style patches on the sleeves. “We broke out these one-time jerseys last night at dinner,” said Chemotti. “We wanted to show our support for the cause.” Also, the Spiders had Jim Regan and John Enberg speak to the team at breakfast. Jim Regan, father of former Army Ranger killed in action, Jimmy Regan, who was a teammate of Chemotti and a player of King of the Spring organizer John Lantzy. Enberg was another teammate of Chemotti’s and Regan’s at Duke. “They talked to our team about brotherhood, family and sacrifice and I have to give credit for giving that message to our guys,” added Chemotti.