MARCY, N.Y. – The SUNYIT Men's Lacrosse Team (0-9, 0-1 NEAC) suffered their most heartbreaking loss of the season on Saturday, losing on a last-second goal in double-overtime to the visiting SUNY-Canton Kangaroos (4-3). Garret DiTullio scored the game-winner for the Roos with 7 seconds left in the second overtime, as SUNY-Canton was able to overcome a 47-39 shot deficit and a 19-30 faceoff day by Wildcat midfielder Tyler Serva (Chenango Forks, N.Y. / Chenango Forks).
The fact that SUNYIT even had a chance late in the game on Saturday is incredible given the events of the first quarter. The Kangaroos ended the first 15 minutes up 6-1, and appeared to be firing on all cylinders with 5 different players scoring in the quarter, including Jason Thompson, who netted both of his goals on the day in the first quarter.
For the Wildcats, the only evidence of life on offense was Serva, who scored SUNYIT's only goal in the first. Thankfully for the home team, the junior carried that momentum into the second period, scoring again at the 12:00 minute mark and then again with 8:36 to go. All three of Serva's goals were unassisted, as he seemed to be willing his team to action. With 5:34 to go in the half, Kevin Gardrvits (Glen Cove, N.Y. / Glen Cove) obliged, scoring his first goal of the day on an assist from Jon Eguren (Vitoria, Spain / Cicero-North Syracuse). Gardrvits would go on to score twice more in the quarter, capping an incredible 6-0 run for the Wildcats to give the team a 7-6 lead going into the locker room.
The difference in the second quarter for the Wildcats seemed to be their defensive pressure in the backfield. After going 7 of 9 on clears in the first quarter, the Roos managed to convert just 4 of 8 in the second quarter as the Wildcat defenders hounded Canton goalie Corey Spuck. Despite the tough quarter, the keeper would have the last laugh in making two incredible saves in the second OT to keep Canton alive, and finishing with 18 saves on the day.
In the second half the Roos evened things up straightaway on a goal by Ryan Cardiff just three minutes in. The teams essentially battled to a draw in the third, as Andre Shattell (Syracuse, N.Y. / Henninger) scored his first goal of the season on a Tyler Serva assist. Shattell, who moved from goalie to midfield this season, made a nifty move to grab his first score and help the Wildcats end the third quarter tied 8-8.
Saturday's fourth quarter is where the fireworks really began, however. After a goal by Tanner Pratt to give SUNY-Canton their first lead since the first half, the Wildcats rattled off three straight scores to take an 11-9 lead. Behind their home crowd and with all the momentum, the Wildcats seemed poised for victory.
With 4:03 remaining in the game, Brett Gifford (Cazenovia, N.Y. / Cazenovia) made what would have been the play of the game had things turned out differently for the Wildcats. The junior defensemen ,who has been wowing fans all season with his offensive acumen, faked a pass in a man-up position before planting his feet and firing a rocket into the top shelf of the Canton goal. The play gave the Wildcats a 12-10 advantage and seemed indicative of a day where, just maybe, everything was bound to go the Wildcats way.
Such hopes would be dashed as Patrick Connelly, and then Tanner Pratt broke free for scores in the final minutes, with Pratt netting the tying goal with 1:27 left.
The first overtime proved to be all about Wildcat goalie Jeffrey Melnik (Yonkers, N.Y. / Stepinac). The sophomore registered an eye-popping 4 saves in less than a minute to keep SUNYIT alive. From 2:20 to 1:28 in the first OT, Melnik "stood on his head" as the Roos fired shot after shot, finally covering up a Tanner Pratt shot to give the Wildcats a possession.
Unfortunately for SUNYIT, Corey Spuck awaited them on the other side of the field. Equaling Melnik's heroics, the junior keeper withstood SUNYIT's attempt, and went on to add another 2 saves in the final overtime period, allowing DiTullio to break free for the game-winner on the other end with 7 seconds to play.
For the Wildcats, despite the loss there were several bright spots. Serva, Gardrvits, and Gifford all had remarkable games in their own rights, with Serva delivering an exhaustive performance: 3 goals, 2 assists, a team-high 11 groundballs while handling all of the game's 30 faceoffs and winning 19 of them.
After a day off for Easter, SUNYIT will return to Wildcat Field for a 6:00pm match up on Monday with Mount St. Mary's.