Dominican Rally Falls Just Short Against Adams State

SAN ANSELMO, Calif. - At halftime of Sunday's Western Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association game, Dominican University of California head coach Ned Webster told his team that "there is no better win than a comeback." The Penguins almost delivered a thrilling one.

Trailing by seven goals in the second half and by three with three minutes to play, Dominican rallied to within a goal of Adams State College and missed tying the game by inches with 1:15 to play, when a shot by freshman Jake Bernstein hit the crossbar. The Grizzlies (2-1/3-3) hung on to claim a 14-13 victory that knocked the Penguins (2-1/3-4) out of first place in the WILA.

Due to the weather forecast originally calling for inclement weather, the game was played on the artificial turf surface at George Corson Field at nearby Sir Francis Drake High School.

"I'm glad we battled back," Webster said. "We certainly had our chances. We just didn't finish in the end ... There was never a doubt in my mind that we could come back, it was just a matter that we didn't have enough time to complete the comeback."

Sophomore Dalton Copeland scored all three of his goals in the second half after the Penguins fell behind 12-5. He assisted on one of Cam Evangelho's two goals that launched the comeback with 11:40 remaining in the third quarter and netted his last goal with 4:32 to go in the contest.

Reed Upson, who leads the Penguins with 14 goals, scored the last of his two goals on Sunday to make it 14-13 with 2:02 remaining but the crossbar and 260-pound Adams State freshman goalkeeper Ronnie Fernando conspired to deny Dominican a win. Upson earlier missed two excellent scoring chances: one shot hit the crossbar and another rolled wide of an open cage.

The Penguins had rallied once in the game to take a 4-3 lead. After Adams State scored three quick goals to take a 3-1, Webster kept his team composed during a time-out and instructed them to "keep it simple." They responded with goals by Evangelho, Nick de la Espriella and freshman Jake Fritz to take a 4-3 lead with 1:16 to go in the first quarter.

However, the Grizzlies, outshooting Dominican 20-4 in the second quarter, scored five straight goals to build a 10-5 advantage at halftime then tallied the first two goals of the second half to put the Penguins in a deep hole. Dominican scored two fast goals, the last by freshman Kevin Powers (who had two goals to go with two assists for team-leading 27 points), but Fernando kept the Penguins at bay for the next seven minutes to slow their momentum.

"We're team that runs on adrenaline. Unfortunately, we don't seem to summon the adrenaline until the game is on the line," Webster said. "I'll take the blame for that. It's a coach's job to motivate his players and get them ready to play and I obviously need to do a better job of that because we really don't seem to play to our potential until late in the game."

Dominican goalkeeper Ryan Williams, who replaced starter Sean Donohue with the Penguins behind 7-4, was also sharp in the second half. Trailing 12-5, the only two goals he allowed thereafter was when the Grizzlies were two men up following a pair of Penguins penalties seconds apart early in the fourth quarter and the eventual game-winner, by Adam State's Anthony Willner, who scooped up a loose ball in front of the Dominican cage and scored for a 14-11 lead with 3:20 left in the game.

The Penguins are off until Tuesday, March 27 when they host Lindenwood at 4:00 p.m. in a WILA contest at Forest Meadows Field. The Penguins defeated Lindenwood 12-5 in St. Charles, Mo. on March 8.

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