MARCY, N.Y. – No team worth its salt celebrates in defeat, however going by the numbers alone, Saturday's 13-8 loss to SUNYAC power Oswego State was a big step forward for the SUNYIT Men's Lacrosse Program (0-2, 0-0 NEAC), now in its third season. Saturday's result was by far the closest the Wildcat team has come to the Lakers in the three years the two teams have squared off, with the Lakers taking the last two contests by scores of 21-4 and 19-3. In fact, were it not for a 4-0 Laker run in the last five minutes of the first half, it might have been a different game entirely.
Early on in the game things went according to script, with Oswego jumping out to a 3-0 lead in the first half behind goals from Brian Murphy, Brady Hoose, and Connor Khammar. Hoose would go on to lead the Lakers in goals on the day with three scores.
Things got interesting in the second quarter, however, as SUNYIT took advantage of a man up situation to tally their first square, a strike from Nicholas Levanti (Clayville, N.Y. / New Hartford Sr High). Levanti had an excellent game with 2 scores and 2 assists, and was assisted on the play by senior Brett Gifford (Cazenovia, N.Y. / Cazenovia), who himself went on to lead the Wildcats in points with 3 scores and 2 assists.
Gifford, a 1st Team All-NEAC selection as a long-stick midfielder, had an outstanding game on both sides of the field as he led all players with 4 caused turnovers as well.
One of the key moments of the game occurred in the second quarter. SUNYIT had just cut the lead to 6-3 on a goal by Gifford, and appeared to be in good shape with under five minutes to go in the half. But a Matt Palmer goal set off a 4-0 stretch for the Lakers that put the visiting team up 10-3 heading into the locker room. Crucial in setting up those scores was Laker faceoff man Troy Crevier, who converted 12-of-15 faceoff attempts on the game and 4-of-5 over the Lakers run to end the half.
To the Wildcats credit, however, the team battled back in the second half. SUNYIT out-scored the Lakers 5-3 in the second half, and even held the visitors scoreless in the fourth quarter. Goalie Jeffrey Melnik (Yonkers, N.Y. / Stepanic) was instrumental in the half, and finished the game with 12 saves.
The Wildcats did a particularly good job in the second half of capitalizing on Laker penalties. SUNYIT – always one of the least-flagged teams in the conference – scored all three of its 4th quarter goals on man-up situations, and finished 6-for-11 on man-up attempts to the Lakers' 0-for-5.
Joining Gifford and Levanti in scoring was senior co-captain Tyler Serva (Chenango Forks, N.Y. / Chenango Forks High School). Serva tied Gifford for the team lead in goals with 3, and added an assist to go along with it. While Serva, who handles faceoffs for SUNYIT, had his hands full most of the day with the 2013 All-SUNYAC Crevier but took advantage in the second half when the Lakers rested the sophomore with a 4-for-5 faceoff record in the third period.
The Wildcats will now hit the road for their first away contest of the year, as they take on Utica College this Thursday, March 6th. Game time is scheduled for 4:00 pm.