Wagner Drops Back-and-Forth Game to Mercer

Staten Island, NY Senior midfielder Colin O'Rourke (Worcester, MA/ St. John's Shrewsbury) scored a career-high five-goals, while assisting on another, and Wagner led 11-10 before Mercer converted two goals in the final 4:10 of the game to pull out a 12-11 win in an exciting, physical contest at Hameline Field.

In a wildly-entertaining game that featured eight ties and eight lead changes, the teams took a 83 shots combined, collected a combined 66 ground balls while also combining to commit 14 turnovers, seven for each side.

With the defeat, the much-improved Seahawks have now dropped three games by five goals or less in seeing their fall to 0-5 while Mercer improves to 3-2 on the season. The two teams had faced one common opponent coming into the game, with Mercer handing Saint Joseph's a 10-9 defeat on March 6 while the Seahawks lost to the Hawks by a count of 10-5 on March 5. Both of these games were played in Philadelphia.

With today's game pushed back an hour to a 2:00 pm start, to provide grounds crew personnel additional time to ready the playing surface, following yesterday's snowfall, the teams battled to an early 2-2 tie before O'Rourke put on a dazzling scoring spree. The 6-1, 185-pounder, who had already the game's first goal 3:38 into the first quarter, unleashed three unassisted goals, in a 3:18 span bridging the first and second quarters, to spark the Seahawks to a 5-2 lead.

The first of O'Rourke's three-goal explosion came on a blast with 1:17 left in the opening quarter to make it 3-2. At the 13:53 mark of the second quarter, he notched another goal before capping his one-man rally with yet another unassisted tally at 10:59 to make it a 5-2 game. Just 18:01 into the contest, O'Rourke already had four goals of his own on the board.

The Bears answered with a three-goal run of their own to tie the game at 5-5 with 7:31 to go in the half. An extra-man goal by freshman attackman Griffen Leclaire (White Rock, BC/ Hill Academy) was answered by a Zack Ward goal which made it a 6-6 game. Then, with 1:18 left in the half, senior midfielder Nick DePhillips (Glen Ridge, NJ/ Glen Ridge/ Ohio St.) sank an unassisted goal to lift Wagner to a 7-6 halftime lead.

The second half was a nip-and-tuck affair as the team's were only separated by more than one goal on one occasion, highlighted by a frantic third quarter that saw both teams come away with four goals. With the game tied 7-7, O'Rourke tallied his fifth goal of the game with 13:25 left to play in the third quarter, another unassisted tally. Then, 1:03 later, O'Rourke came up with a big assist, feeding senior attackman Brian Faughnan (New Canaan, CT/ New Canaan), who blasted home a shot from the right wing to put Wagner in front 9-7 at the 12:42 mark of the third.

Mercer again answered, this time on consecutive goals by Harry Baker and Chris Baxter, the latter, which came on a Baker assist that knotted the game at 9-9 with 5:34 to go in the third. Wagner, playing with a sense of purpose and determination, regained the lead at 10-9 the 4:18 juncture of the third as Leclaire found an open DePhillips, who buried the shot, sending the Wagner fans into a frenzy.

Mercer's John Avent created the seventh tie of the game 1:02 later off an Eoin Collins assist to forge the game's sixth tie, this one at 10-10 with 3:18 to go in the third quarter. Leclaire then capped the wild and wooly third quarter at the 2:31 mark to give Wagner an 11-10 lead heading into quarter number four.

Unlike the goal-happy third quarter, the game's final quarter was more defensive-minded as Wagner held that 11-10 lead for more than 14 minutes before the combination of Baker to Baxter struck again, teaming up at the 4:10 mark to create the seventh and final tie of the game at 11-11. Then, with 3:07 to go, Collins proved what would be the game-winner, sinking the go-ahead goal and the Bears' defense held on for the 12-11 win.

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