Dunster Hat Trick Paces Bryant to Win over Sacred Heart

SMITHFIELD, R.I. -- Sophomore midfielder Colin Dunster (Cos Cob, Conn.) put on a display with an acrobatic fourth-quarter hat trick Saturday afternoon, leading a Bryant side that was able to quell a second-half Sacred Heart push to take an 11-8 victory in the 2012 Northeast Conference opener at the Bryant Turf Complex.

The Bulldogs (7-2, 1-0 NEC) extend their winning streak to six straight with the victory and remain perfect against the Pioneers (3-6, 0-1) in four all-time meetings. Bryant also stays undefeated at home in five games in 2012.

Bryant did all the scoring in the first quarter to open up a 4-0 advantage, a frame that featured back-to-back goals by junior captain Peter McMahon (Wilton, Conn.) and three Bulldog tallies over a 1:25 stretch inside the final three minutes.

Senior Max Weisenberg (Long Beach, N.Y.) spotted the Black and Gold a 5-0 lead 68 ticks into the second stanza in unassisted fashion, but the Bulldog offense would stall over the next five minutes as Sacred Heart quickly climbed back in it with a trio of scores to bring the clock under nine minutes.

Juniors Mason Poli (Downingtown, Pa.) and Cody Isdaner (Gladwyne, Pa.) teamed up to regain a three-goal edge for the home side just a minute later, when the former picked up the ground ball off a blocked shot from Pioneer attacker Aaron Lupo. Clearing the crowd with possession of the ball, Poli connected with Isdaner all alone on the right sideline near midfield. The pass sprung the attacker, as Isdaner went in one-on-one with Sacred Heart netminder Ryan Hughes, deking the goalie and releasing a shot on the doorstep that gave the Bulldogs a 6-3 advantage.

The half would end with the three-goal margin intact, but not before SHU's Matt Ferrino and Bryant's Travis Harrington (Vestal, N.Y.) traded unassisted tallies for a 7-4 score at the intermission.

But the third was all Sacred Heart despite nine shots from the home side, as Hughes made a trio of stops to keep Bryant off the board and allow his team to score twice in the quarter's final three minutes, including a tally with just six seconds to play. The goals cut the hosts lead to just one, 7-6, entering the final 15 minutes of action.

"I was really disappointed with our response after intermission," said head coach Mike Pressler. "All the credit goes to Sacred Heart. We were up, 7-4, and then the Pioneers outscore us, 2-0, in the third. So there we were heading in the fourth, up just one goal, 7-6, and it was game on."

And the Bulldog offense kicked into gear from the get-go in the fourth, driven by a hat trick from Dunster, who had been quiet through the contest's first 45 minutes. Bryant's leading scorer got the frame started at the 13:07 mark, taking a crisp pass from Weisenberg across the heart of the field and firing a one-timer past Hughes for an 8-6 margin.

Off the ensuing faceoff, rookie Kevin Massa (Huntington, N.Y.) capitalized on a free pass, taking automatic possession after a whistle on opponent Stephen Kontos and sprinting straight up the field to score the first goal of his collegiate career just nine seconds after Dunster's score.

"It was critical for us to start the fourth with those back-to-back goals," said Pressler. "We go from being up, 7-6, to leading, 9-6, so we got a little breathing room. I think that was the most critical stretch of the entire game for us."

A Tom Sardelli goal cut into the Pioneers' deficit, making it 9-7 in Bryant's favor, but Dunster answered 40 seconds later, picking up the ground ball after an Alex Zomerfeld (Port Jefferson, N.Y.) miss and flipping a pretty behind-the-back shot under pressure from the SHU defense into the Pioneers' goal for a 10-7 lead with just more than nine minutes still to play.

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