Gibaldi Saves 12 as Wagner Takes One-Goal Wn at VMI

LEXINGTON, Va. -- A three-goal night from freshman Brad Nardella was not enough as Virginia Military Institute came up just short against visiting Wagner College Tuesday night at Drill Field #2. The night game was the first-ever held by the program on Post.

Nardella led the game with the first hat trick of his career. Linemate Mickey Hofmeister potted a pair of goals while freshman Dale Mattice accounted for VMI's sixth goal. Sophomore Dan Bull registered an Nardella's second goal of the night.

Wagner (2-4) was paced by two goals from both Cory Santor and Griffen LeClaire, with the former adding an assist to his evening. David DeCirce and William McMenamin scored once each while Billy Battaglia was the only player off the bench to score a goal. Patrick McMenamin notched two assists.

Goaltending was strong in both creases as VMI's Evan Windisch made a career second-best 17 saves, including 10 in the second half, allowing only two goals over the final 30 minutes of the game. Seahawk netminder Nicholas Gibaldi got the win while making 12 saves.

Shots were nearly even in the game as Wagner took 33 attempts, led by eight attempts by LeClaire, while VMI ripped off 31 shots, behind 11 from Hofmeister. Nardella finished with a career-high seven shots en route to a career night.

Faceoffs were an even split as VMI's Mitch Wilson won seven of his 14 attempts. Three Wagner players took draws against Wilson, with Anthony Labetti going four for seven, William McMenamin won two of his five attempts and Jacob Orvidas won one of his two draws.

Groundballs were also a split in the game as each side grabbed 31. VMI's grounder efforts were led by Tyler Prasnicki, who grabbed a game-high six. Sophomore long pole Ian Marinacci snared three while Wilson picked up a pair off the draw.

Both teams struggled in clearing as VMI went 12 of 18 while Wagner gained the zone on 14 of its 19 qualifying attempts.

Penalty flags were plentiful in the game as the teams combined for 11 extra-man chances. Wagner cashed in on one of its seven extra-man opportunities, while VMI could not find the net with the extra attacker. However, VMI's man-down unit allowed one goal in six minutes of penalties, including a two-minute non-releasable penalty.

The Seahawks jumped out to a 2-0 on a DeCirce tally and LeClaire's first with 5:41 left in the first quarter. But VMI cut the lead in half as Hofmeister scored a bouncing shot from an impossible angle to make it 2-1 in favor of Wagner. The Seahawks took advantage of a VMI miscue in transition and scored the final goal of the first quarter with just six second left in the period from William McMenamin.

VMI rallied to begin the second quarter, reeling off three unanswered goals to take a 4-3 lead with 10:50 on the clock. Nardella potted back-to-back tallies, with Bull helping on the second. Wagner tied and regained the lead on back-to-back Santor tallies, including an extra-man chance. The Keydets deadlocked the game at halftime 5-5 as Nardella logged his third of the night on a diving shot with one second to play in the period.

Once again, VMI grabbed the lead, 6-5, as Mattice potted his ninth goal of the season less than three minutes into the fresh half, bull dodging a much smaller Patrick McMenamin before five-holing Gibaldi. Wagner tied the game for a fourth time as Bataglia netted his lone goal with seven seconds left in the third.

Only one goal was scored over the course of the last 15 minutes as LeClaire scored the go-ahead with 8:12 to play in regulation. Santor had what would prove to be the game-winning assist.

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