Men’s Lacrosse: VMI hangs on to defeat Lafayette in season opener, 13-12
Led by hat tricks scored by sophomores Hartley Jordan and Scout Ripley, the VMI lacrosse team held on to defeat host Lafayette College, 13-12, Saturday afternoon at Fisher Stadium in Easton, Pa..
The Keydets (1-0, 0-0) secured the victory for first-year head coach James Purpura in his debut game at the helm. The win was significant for Purpura as he became the first VMI coach to win his debut game since Mike Pressler accomplished the feat in 1983 when VMI began its NCAA program. The win also gave VMI its first victory over Lafayette since the 2001 season.
VMI and Lafayette (0-1, 0-0) battled head to head for most of the game as the Keydets took a slight 6-5 advantage into the break with Jordan accounting for two of the goals. The Keydets increased the lead to 10-9 with 6:26 left to play as Jordan scored his final goal and Ripley completed his hat trick. Senior Jon Fant upped the lead to 11-9 before freshman AJ Stamos gave the Keydets a three-goal lead at 12-9 with only 4:22 on the clock.
“I’m so incredibly proud of the men in our program,” Purpura said. “This was a total team effort. Seven of our 10 starters were freshmen or sophomores, most of which were getting their first starts of their careers. They have overcome the adversity of the pandemic and capably adapted to personnel changes with a “next man up” mentality.
“It felt great for us all to be able to compete after not playing for 364 days. This group is a special group and have bought into and lived our core values. We certainly have a lot to correct as we get back to practice this week as we look at the tape and prepare for an experienced and skilled Bellarmine team.”
After a Lafayette goal with 2:53 to play, VMI junior Trejan Cannon scored what proved to be the game-winning goal just seconds later at 2:38 to secure the win. The Leopards would go on to score two more goals in the final two minutes, but VMI held on for the final minute to snag the win.
Fant and Michael Santos both scored a pair of goals in the win while senior Ryan Perouty, Stamos and Cannon accounted for the others. Perouty and Fant were credited with two assists apiece while Santos, Jordan, LT Ancona, Cannon and Eric Lane provided the other helpers. Perouty, Stamos and Jordan all totaled seven shot attempts during the game.
Defensively, Lane created problems with three caused turnovers and picked up a game-high seven groundballs. Tim Lindenbaum also caused three turnovers and logged five groundballs. Sophomore keeper Anthony Merida earned his first career win in the circle by tallying six saves after facing 30 shots at the net.
Lafayette’s Peter Lehman and Charlie Cunniffe both logged hat tricks of their own to lead the Leopards while Carter Cecil had two. Leopard goalie Ryan Ness tallied 14 saves in the loss having faced 44 VMI shot attempts.
The Keydets have a quick turnaround to face SoCon foe Bellarmine on Tuesday in Louisville, Kentucky, a game that was rescheduled from its original date of February 27 due to coronavirus issues.