No. 18 Bryant Hangs on for Upset Win at No. 13 Albany

ALBANY, N.Y. For the third time in four opportunities, Bryant has topped a nationally ranked opponent, but Saturday's 12-11 victory on the road over 13th-ranked Albany could just be the best of them all.

Against the top-ranked offense in the NCAA a team that also boasts the country's top individual goal scorer and top point getter the No. 18 Bulldogs (5-2) never let the Great Danes (2-3) lead by more than a pair before taking a lead of their own midway through the third.

Sophomore midfielder Collins Gantz (Denver, Colo.) netted a hat trick in the outing, while rookie Tucker James (Essex Fells, N.J.) added three points with two goals and an assist. Sophomore attack Shane Morrell (Glen Mills, Pa.) and senior middie Alex Zomerfeld (Port Jefferson, N.Y.) also netted two apiece, while senior Colin Dunster (Cos Cob, Conn.), junior Brian Schlansker (Glenville, N.Y.) and redshirt-freshman Cody O'Donnell (Smithfield, R.I.) each chipped in a marker as well.

Albany's top attack trio of Miles, Lyle and Ty Thompson were responsible for 15 of the home side's 19 points. Miles, the nation's leading goal scorer, scored three and added a trio of assists while Lyle, the nation's top point getter, posted a game-best seven off two goals and five helpers. Ty Thompson added a pair of scores on the day.

As important as the team's offensive efforts was the performance of junior faceoff specialist Kevin Massa (Huntington, N.Y.), who went 22 of 26 from the X with a season-best 20 ground balls, finding success against all seven opponents the Great Danes threw at him.

But the story of the game was the play of both goalies in the outing, with sophomore Gunnar Waldt (Freeland, Md.) putting up 14 saves while Blaze Riorden stopped 17 despite the loss.

"We told our guys going into this week that we had to be great down the middle again," said Bryant head coach Mike Pressler. "I'm not sure Gunnar and Kevin could have played much better than they played today."

After trailing, 5-4, at the half, the Bulldogs shifted the momentum to their side in the third, controlling time of possession and outshooting the Great Danes, 20-8, in the frame. After Ty Thompson gave the home team a 6-4 lead three minutes in, the Bulldogs erupted for three-straight unassisted tallies, started by a man-up marker from Zomerfeld 21 seconds later.

Morrell dodged around defenseman Doug Eich to get to the edge of the crease 90 seconds after Zomerfeld's tally to tie the game at 6-6, and James gave the Bulldogs their first advantage, 7-6, with 8:57 to play, backstopping a Dan Sipperly (Greenwich, N.Y.) shot that missed just high and depositing it into side netting.

"The key for us was that we didn't let the second quarter get away from us," said Pressler. "Last year, that is where they pulled away, and then we had to play catch up. Today, we just hung around for such a long period of time even though we were down. That was a huge goal by Alex Zomerfeld, and that little spurt in the third quarter pushed the game our way."

Lyle Thompson responded with consecutive unassisted goals to put the hosts back on top, 8-7, but with the 30-second shot clock on, Gantz blew past two defensemen to fire a bullet into the back of the net and tie the game yet again with 4:37 left in the third.

Lyle Thompson would connect with brother Miles with 33 ticks to go in the stanza to take a 9-8 lead into the fourth quarter, as Riorden made eight stops in the frame to subdue the Bulldog onslaught.

But 68 seconds in the fourth, Gantz completed his hat trick (unassisted), and while neither side got back on the board for more than seven minutes from there, it was a Black and Gold stick that would draw next blood. With 6:16 remaining in the contest, Morrell got on the board again, swinging around the left side of the goal for an unassisted score and the 10-9 Bulldog lead.

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2014-03-15



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