MORRISVILLE, N.Y. – The Morrisville State College men's lacrosse team made history Tuesday night as they collected their first NCAA Division III Tournament win, a thrilling overtime defeat of Eastern University in the first round at Sea Gull Stadium on the campus of Salisbury University in Salisbury, Maryland.
The Mustangs (12-7) advance to face two-time defending champion Salisbury University tomorrow night at 7 p.m. on the Sea Gulls home turf.
The game itself couldn't have been scripted any better for either team in the opening round, as both played nearly even, but only one would walk away with their first post-season victory.
Eastern claimed a 3-2 lead after the opening frame, netting the first two of the contest a mere nine seconds apart before sophomore Joe Piedigrossi (Cortland, N.Y.) rifled the connection from Logan Peters (Yorktown Heights, N.Y.) past the Eagles goalkeeper Jameal Hadeed at the 11:50 mark,
Five minutes later, Morrisville State took advantage of the lone Eastern penalty of the contest and put another into the back of the net to knot the game at two. Nick Geswaldo (Lafayette, N.Y.) connected with senior Brad Biggs (Tully, N.Y.) for his 27th tally of the season.
Eastern regained the lead at 3:16 with an unassisted goal from Jake Billera, his second of the quarter, to head into the second with a 3-2 Eagles advantage.
Battling back and forth throughout much of the second quarter, Billera finally broke through the Mustang defense to add his third of the afternoon and give Eastern a 4-2 lead, but Morrisville State wouldn't go away quietly as Piedigrossi netted back-to-back scores for the Mustangs within a span of 37 seconds, tying the contest for a second time.
Eastern responded off the ensuing faceoff after Piedigrossi's third score of the half to regain a one goal advantage, but Morrisville State answered right back to send it into the locker room knotted at five as Geswaldo collected his first of the day.
It was all Eastern in the third maintaining possession for a majority of the clock, as they held Morrisville State scoreless while posting two of their own, carrying the 7-5 lead into the final quarter.
A quick score from Fisher, who got a screen high and gave the senior the clear look at net, bounced it home to bring Morrisville State within one with 13:45 remaining on the clock
Eastern won the faceoff and quickly tried to get the score back, but Mustang goalkeeper Dan Sherlock (Tully, N.Y.) easily collected the save. A turnover on the offensive end for Morrisville State gave the ball back to the Eagles, who again, made a quick move to net, but was turned away with the stick stop by Sherlock.
Eastern regained and maintained possession for just over four minutes time in the Mustangs defensive box, but failed to convert as Morrisville State forced a turnover and in the transition got the ball to Peters who fired the tying goal into the upper left corner over the stick of Hadeed with 4:49 to go.
Each team had a possession in the final four minutes of the contest, including the Mustangs who for the final 2:34 made an attempt to end the game in regulation.
After a Morrisville State timeout with 1:12 to go, the visitors had one last attempt to make an offensive attack on cage, but the Eagles defense kept them at length and forced the extra frame.
In overtime, Shawn Walberger (Fulton, N.Y.) won the face-off and long stick middie David Gullen (Baldwinsville, N.Y.) collected the ground ball and moved it to the attacking unit, before Morrisville State put the ball in the stick of Geswaldo on the right wing for the one-on-one.
Geswaldo rolled his defender and went underhand with the left hand shot, sniping the ball through the legs of Hadeed for the game winning tally 1:27 into the overtime period, and giving Morrisville State their first NCAA tournament win.
Geswaldo finished with two goals and an assist, while Piedigrossi led Morrisville State with three tallies. Peters finished with a goal and an assist, with Biggs and Fisher each collecting one.
Gullen collected a team high five ground balls, and Brendan Boles (Goshen, N.Y.) four to lead Morrisville State in the battle on the turf.
Walberger went 5-for-10 from the center x, and Nate McCormick (Cortland, N.Y.) added six wins in nine attempts on the face-off.
Sherlock turned away eight total for the win in net, two in the fourth quarter alone.
Hadeed finished with six stops in the loss for the Eagles.
Morrisville State is no stranger to facing top 10 competition within the NCAA tournament, but will meet Salisbury University for the first time tomorrow night. The Sea Gulls have won a program total 12 national championships, including in 2016 and 2017.
Morrisville State College's curricula are enriched with applied learning and pave the way for opportunity at both the Morrisville and Norwich campuses. An action-oriented, interactive learning lab, the college is a national leader in technology and has been lauded for its exemplary, innovative and effective community service programs.
The college was ranked among the Best Regional Colleges in the North by U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges 2018 issue and was also recognized in the Top Public Schools, Regional Colleges North in the 2018 Best Colleges rankings. For more information about Morrisville State College, visit www.morrisville.edu.