Bryant Rallies to Upend Brown, Win Ocean State Cup

SMITHFIELD, R.I. Junior midfielder Max Weisenberg (Long Beach, N.Y.) scored back-to-back unassisted goals late in the fourth quarter to give Bryant an 8-6 edge, and that was all the Bulldogs needed after climbing out of a four-score hole to earn their first-ever victory over Ivy League powerhouse and intrastate rival Brown, 8-7, also claiming the second-annual Ocean State Cup with Tuesday night's victory at home.

The game marked the Bulldogs' fifth one-goal decision of the season but just the second win in such situations, and it was a big one for Bryant's confidence as the team re-enters conference play in the coming days.

The ending didn't look so sunny early in the second quarter, though, as Brown (3-6) took a 5-1 lead with 13 minutes still to play before the half after opening the game with a 4-0 advantage on the Bulldogs' home turf.

But Bryant (4-6) would settle down from there, and a big unassisted diving tally from rookie Dan Sipperly (Greenwich, N.Y.) cut the score to 5-2. Travis Harrington (Vestal, N.Y.) would send the home side into the locker room with just a two-goal deficit and all the momentum with his only point of the game, another unassisted score with 2:29 on the clock.

Weisenberg would hook up with Sipperly for the frosh's second goal of the game and ninth on the season out of the break, closing the gap to just a single score, 5-4. And while Brown would notch a man-up goal with 6:44 to go, Bryant answered in a big way, rattling off four-straight tallies spanning the third and fourth quarters to dig itself out the hole and then some.

Sophomore Mason Poli (Downingtown, Pa.) netted his third goal in the last two contests with 5:34 remaining in the third stanza, receiving a Jameson Love (Darien, Conn.) clearing feed and sprinting down the field for a straightaway score to bring the Bears' lead back to just one and wrap up scoring in the frame.

Early in the fourth, classmate and leading point-getter Peter McMahon (Wilton, Conn.) tallied the equalizer three periods in the making off another assist from Weisenberg, wiping away everything that had happened in the previous 46 minutes and bringing the whole game all down to one question: which team has what it takes to win the fourth period?

The Bulldogs soon offered up that answer. After nearly eight minutes of scoreless play that kept the momentum rolling in the Black and Gold's favor, Weisenberg finally made one of his own count, sending a shot screaming past stud goalie Matt Chriss with 6:45 to play and giving the Bulldogs' their first edge of the contest, 7-6.

It was a lead the Bulldogs wouldn't relinquish, as the junior tacked on another 74 seconds later after a huge forced turnover from Poli gave the Bulldogs back possession with time winding down.

"Mason has an uncanny ability to get upfield, it doesn't matter who or where he's playing," said head coach Mike Pressler. "He has the desire to create offense. We know that, and we use that."

But after David Hawley brought the visitors to within one, 8-7, with plenty of time left in the game, everything came down to the play of Bryant's final line of defense: Jameson Love. And while Love struggled in the first half, the junior captain was spectacular after the break, making seven of his nine saves in the final two periods, none bigger than the stop of a Parker Brown shot on the doorstep with just 58 ticks left in regulation.

"We talked about it in the pregame," said Pressler. "They have an All-American goalie in Matt Chriss, and there was some extra pressure there on Jameson [because of it]. But that play at the end just epitomized the game we had from the second quarter on. To win a game like that, you need spectacular players to make spectacular plays, and Jameson made one of the most impressive saves of his career, point blank, when we needed it most."

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