VMI lax loses heartbreaker
The game was close throughout, featuring six ties and five lead changes. Neither team gained more than a three-goal advantage.
VMI’s versatile offense was led by Keith Long, who finished the day with four goals while Mike DeBlasio and Russell East each tallied a pair. Bernie Mowbray, Drew Leonard and Stephen Robarge all tallied markers. East, Leonard, Long and Mowbray tallied one helper apiece.
The highlight of the day for VMI came at the face-off X where Robarge went 23-28 on the day. Canisius threw everything they had at the senior specialist, sending in eight different Griffs to take face-offs against Robarge, who finished the day with 15 groundballs.His 23 wins at the X marked the fourth time this season Robarge surpassed the 20-win mark in a single game.
Canisius’ offensive efforts were led by Tim Edwards and Simon Giourmetakis, who each finished with three goals. Jimmy Haney and Nick Caldiero each had two goals while Travis Gibbons, Brandon Bull and Kevin Collins had one marker each. Six different Golden Griffins logged assists in the game.
The games stats were close, with the Keydets taking a narrow 34-33 advantage in groundballs. Canisius out-shot VMI 30-28, allowing VMI’s Matt Lindemann the chance to make nine saves. Canisius’ Sean Callahan made five stops on the day.
VMI took an unusual amount of penalties however. Coming into the game, the MAAC’s least-penalized team was charged with six penalties, five of which were for one minute. But the Keydets’ penalty killing unit played well, allowing only one goal while shorthanded.
Turnovers were the Achilles heel for VMI on Saturday, giving the ball back to Canisius 24 times. The Griffs only turned the ball over 10 times.
The first half was a back-and-forth affair, featuring five ties and four lead changes. Canisius got two of the first three goals of the game, bookending a goal by East. VMI knotted the action at 2-2 to end the first quarter after a Long unassisted goal.
VMI grabbed its first lead of the game at the top of the second quarter after East put a bullet of a shot past Callahan, putting the Keydets up 3-2. But the Griffs regained the lead with back-to-back goals, including Giourmetakis’ second of the day.
The Keydets rallied however, grabbing back the lead and getting the largest lead of the first half 6-4. VMI once again showed its versatility, getting three different goal scorers during the run. Leonard led things off followed by DeBlasio and Mowbray. East, Long and Leonard all had assists during the run, which ate only a minute and a half of clock.
But Canisius rallied back and scored twice in the final four minutes to send the game into the halftime break tied 6-6.
Out of halftime, Robarge wasted no time regaining the lead for VMI, beating Callahan just 12 seconds into the fresh half, putting the Keydets up 7-6. The Griffs rallied however, reeling off four straight goals to take a 10-7 lead, their biggest of the game.
In the waining moments of the third quarter, DeBlasio stopped the bleeding with a goal of his own and pulling VMI back to within two goals of Canisius.
The two teams traded goals in the fourth quarter, Canisius striking first followed by VMI’s Long, who ripped a shot that hit a defender and deflected into the goal.
With 9:08 left in the game, Canisius’ Gibbons scored what proved to be the game-winning goal. VMI, a team that does not roll over easily, fought back getting back-to-back goals from Long, with the first assisted by Mowbray.
Late in the fourth quarter, Leonard drove towards the goal and scored what would have gotten VMI within one goal of Canisius, but the officials determined he stepped on the crease line before scoring the goal, which was waved off.
The Keydets return home to Lexington on April 28 as it hosts the University of Detroit Mercy. The game, which will serve as VMI’s senior day, is set to begin at 2 p.m.at the SprinTurf Field, located directly behind Foster Stadium.