Close Brothers Send Leopards to First 2018 Win
MADISON, N.J. - The Lafayette men's lacrosse team is off and running with its first win of the 2018 season as the Leopards used a 2-1 fourth-quarter edge to close out NJIT on Saturday afternoon at Drew University in Madison, N.J., 10-8.
The Close brothers accounted for 50 percent of the Leopards' offense on the afternoon as sophomore Adam Close netted three goals to lead the way, while senior Matt Close chipped in with a pair of his own, including a momentum-swinger to end the third quarter. The win moves Lafayette to 1-1 overall heading into its home opener at Fisher Stadium on Friday.
"The team worked hard to earn this win today, a total team effort from top to bottom," interim head coach Ed Williams said. "It's nice to get the first one out of the way especially after last weekend. We will come out Monday, learn from our mistakes and turn our focus to the next one."
It was a tight game throughout as neither team held more than a three-goal lead for all 60 minutes of action. Junior Jonathan Anastos was solid behind an excellent defensive effort, making 12 saves for his second straight 10-plus save performance of the year.
Junior Conor Walters chipped in with two goals and an assist, while senior co-captain Will McCarthy added a goal and an assist as well. Registering the final two markers were sophomore Zane Crandall and freshman John Natoli.
Following an NJIT goal to open the scoring just over a minute in, Lafayette took control of the game with four of the next five, including two from Adam Close to take a 4-2 lead at the start of the second quarter. Natoli's tally answered a Johnny Madaras marker for the Highlanders midway through the second period, but Ryan Darrow slotted a late marker past Anastos with 29 seconds left in the opening half to send the game into intermission at 5-4.
NJIT had its best run of play to start the second half, scoring three of the four goals in the first 10 minutes of the third quarter to take a 7-6 lead with 4:48 on the clock. Walters answered at the 2:23 mark before Matt Close's play at the end of the period.
With momentum up for grabs and the clock winding down, the senior fired a missile past the NJIT goalie just before the horn sounded to push Lafayette in front, 8-7, heading into the fourth. That goal sparked everything for the Leopards down the stretch as they added two more goals and held the Highlanders off the board for the final 7:07 to close it out with a final of 10-8.
Shots favored NJIT by a 35-29 margin, while Lafayette force five failed clears on the ride. Sophomore John Becker won 10 of the game's 19 faceoffs and the Leopards' pressure caused 17 turnovers compared to 15 miscues for the Maroon and White.
Lafayette will look for back-to-back wins for the first time since 2015 when it opens its home season on Friday, hosting Wagner at 4 p.m.