VMI Edged by Defending MAAC Champ Detroit

LEXINGTON, Va. -- In a game that featured five lead changes and four ties, Virginia Military Institute was edged by defending Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference University of Detroit Mercy 8-6 Saturday afternoon at Drill Field #2.

The Keydets held a two-goal, 6-4 lead midway through the third quarter, but the Titans rallied and scored the game's next four goals to edge VMI, striking twice in the fourth quarter to break a 6-6 deadlock.

VMI got outstanding play in goal from junior Evan Windsich, who made 19 saves against a 48-shot barrage by the Titans (2-2). The keeper made 14 saves in the first half, allowing VMI (0-4) to head to the break tied 4-4.

The Keydets saw scoring from several sources as six different players deposited shots past Jason Weber. Sophomore Ben Huger had a career day with one goal and three assists, while Domenick Stumpo accounted for VMI's fourth helper.

Mickey Hofmeister extended his scoring streak to four games with his goal, while Brad Nardella, Gage Snowbarger, Eric Groleau and Andrew Erber all scored once. Erber and Nardella scored the first goal of their careers while Groleau got the first marker of his season.

Detroit, which competed against VMI for four seasons in the MAAC, got a hat trick from Shayne Adams while Tom Masterson scored two goals and two assists. Mike Birney, Scott Drummond and Shannen Wesley all scored once. Alex Maini distributed four assists during the game, while Bireny and Brandon Beauregard had one helper each.

The Titans were back-stopped by freshman Jason Weber, making the first start of his career. The rookie made 16 saves in the game, including nine in the second half, with six of those coming in the fourth quarter alone. Weber was solid in goal, helping Detroit kill off a three-minute non-releasable penalty called against Mike Spuller to start the fourth quarter.

VMI had its best outing at the faceoff X as Mitch Wilson won 12 of his 16 draws, collecting three groundballs along the way. His wingmate, Groleau, snagged three grounders in the game, including several late in the game on faceoffs. The Titans struggled to be the Keydets on the draw, sending out three different players to faceoff. Ben Gjokaj was the only Detroit player to win a draw, grabbing all four Titan victories.

The Keydets had another strong showing in the clearing game, gaining the zone on 20 of their 25 attempts, an 80-percent clearing effort on the day. Detroit failed to get on offense just three times in 26 attempts.

For the first time this season, VMI won the groundball battle, collecting 33 against Detroit's 29. Defenseman Tom Brown and longstick midfielder Ty Trobridge collected four apiece.

Detroit out-shot the Keydets 47-38, putting 27 of those efforts on goal, only to be stymied by Windisch 19 times. VMI hit the frame 22 times on 38 shots, paced by Hofmeister's eight total shots, six of which were on cage.

It took some feeling-out time for the offenses to get going before Hofmeister potted his goal at the 4:33 mark of the first quarter. Detroit took a 2-1 lead on back-to-back goals from Adams in the span of a minute, including a man-up goal, but Nardella deadlocked the game at 2-2 with just 15 seconds left on a dish from Huger, who assisted both VMI goals in the quarter.

Detroit broke the tie for a 3-2 lead just over a minute into the fresh quarter, only to have Snowbarger bury a shot on the extra-man, VMI's only man-up goal on four opportunities. The Keydets regained the lead with 7:52 left in the first half as Groleau finished and unassisted goal. The game went scoreless for over seven minutes before Wesley tied the action again at 3-3 with 30 seconds left for a tie game at halftime.

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