Walters’ Six-Point Effort Sinks NJIT
EASTON, Pa. – The Lafayette men’s lacrosse team got all it could handle on Tuesday evening at Fisher Stadium, holding off a late NJIT rally to secure its second win of the season by a 12-11 score.
Leading by a comfortable 11-6 margin with 2:22 remaining in the third, the Leopards looked like they would cruise to victory. However, a late NJIT goal with three seconds left in the quarter sparked a 4-1 run trimmed the lead to just one with 2:31 to play.
On the final possession, NJIT took over the ball on a Nick Marzullo save with 46 seconds to play. The Highlanders worked the ball down the field and into the stick of Ryan Callaghan at X. Callaghan worked on Leopards’ defender Erik Cannon as the clock moved under 10 seconds, but Cannon was able to knock it loose and swarm to the ball, running into the corner with it as the clock ran out to seal the 12-11 victory.
“We had to focus on not letting up at the end,” sophomore Conor Walters said. “We couldn’t get down on ourselves and needed to keep fighting. The defense made a huge stop at the end of the game to cap the victory and that fight was a big key to our success tonight.”
Walters was the engine for the Lafayette offense, putting in a six-point performance on three goals and three assists. Both of the marks were career-high’s for the Lake Forest, Ill. native, while Eric Joseph netted a hat trick of his own, and Matt Close and Will McCarthy each recorded a pair of scoring tallies.
“I just tried to stay relaxed and knew that if we relied on our gameplan and played our game, everything else would fall into place,” Walters added.
It wasn’t easy in the beginning for the Maroon and White as the Highlanders scored four of the first five goals to take a 4-1 lead into the early stages of the second quarter. A pair of Joseph tallies sandwiched another NJIT score midway through the second to cut the lead to two at 5-3, and a goal from either side over the next two minutes made it 6-4 with 6:13 left in the opening half.
Then, the Leopards made their run as seven straight goals with four to end the second and three to open the third quarter opened the game up to 11-6 late in the third. From there, Lafayette held off the NJIT surge to finish it off.
“I thought we started slow, but I’m proud of the way the guys responded,” head coach Jim Rogalski said. “It was important how we cut the deficit down, especially with the run we made in and out of halftime.”
Lafayette dominated the stat sheet, leading in shots, 46-29, and ground balls, 42-27, including an impressive 10 picked up by Chris Adamo. Freshman John Becker won 15 of the game’s 26 faceoffs, while the Maroon and White committed just eight turnovers and forced 16 from the visitors.
Senior Matt Cortese picked up his first win of the season, making one save in 30 minutes of action, while freshman Wes Moshier was solid as well, stopping five NJIT shots, including four in the fourth quarter to preserve the victory. The win improves Lafayette to 2-10 on the season, while NJIT is still seeking its first victory at 0-12.
The Leopards return to Fisher Stadium this weekend as the first game of a double-header, hosting Bucknell at 1 p.m. The women’s team follows versus Holy Cross at 4 p.m.