No. 15 Bryant Rides Fast Start to Victory over Hobart

SMITHFIELD, R.I. No. 15 Bryant got off to a 9-1 lead in Saturday's Northeast Conference opener against Hobart and saw its top six offensive players account for 14 goals to take a 15-8 victory over the Statesmen at home in the programs' first meeting as league rivals.

The Bulldogs (6-2, 1-0 NEC) saw 23 of their 25 total points on the day come from the sticks of their top attack and top midfield lines, as the Black and Gold extended their winning streak to four games. Bryant saw a trio of hat tricks in the contest, including a four-goal outing from senior Dan Sipperly (Greenwich, N.Y.).

Senior Colin Dunster (Cos Cob, Conn.) also chipped in a trio of tallies, all three coming in the first quarter alone, while reigning NEC Rookie of the Week Tucker James (Essex Fells, N.J.) paced the contest with five points off three goals and two assists.

The Statesmen (2-6, 1-1) got a hat trick of their own from starting middie Zach Reed, but saw leading point getter Cam Stone limited to just two points (1 goal, 1 assist) and leading goal scorer Jake McHenry held to just a single tally.

"This game was huge," said Bryant head coach Mike Pressler. "It was more important to us than any of the other non-conference games, and I was so impressed by our team's readiness and our start. To go up, 9-1 you couldn't ask for a better beginning. But credit Hobart as well. They battled back and made it a very, very exciting game the rest of the way."

Sophomores Shane Morrell (Glen Mills, Pa.) and Collins Gantz (Denver, Colo.) also contributed multi-point performances, with the former getting on the stat sheet twice in both the goals and the assists columns. Senior Alex Zomerfeld (Port Jefferson, N.Y.) also posted four points, including a trio of helpers.

But at the heart of the Bulldogs' best offensive outing of the season was the play of junior faceoff specialist and reigning NEC Player of the Year Kevin Massa (Huntington, N.Y.), who went an impressive 22 of 27 from the X (.815) and picked up 17 ground balls. Massa, who is also the reigning NEC Player of the Week, also chipped in an assist in the opening minute of the second quarter.

"I thought Kevin was Kevin again," said Pressler. "He was sick a couple of days this week and really responded to that challenge."

After watching the hosts race out to a 3-0 lead in the first 5:07 of the contest, Reed capitalized on the game's first penalty, netting a feed from Matt Opsahl to get Hobart on the board with 8:28 left in the opening stanza.

The Bulldogs, however, would score the next four to end the period and continue the run into the second quarter, eventually streaking for six goals in less than eight minutes of game time to take a 9-1 lead with 14:07 to play in the second frame.

Dunster, who opened the game with an unassisted marker, would score twice in the stretch, including a crafty over the shoulder goal off a rebound to give the hosts a 4-1 edge. Zomerfeld would also see three points through the six-goal run, assisting on Morrell and Dunster tallies in the final 68 seconds of the first before getting a score of his own (assisted by Dunster) to start the second quarter.

Senior defensive middie Rob Goeren (Massapequa, N.Y.) capped off the run with his third tally of the year, assisted by Massa for the 9-1 advantage.

The Statesmen began to chip away at Bryant's lead with 11:30 to go in the second, scoring the first of three uninterrupted, unassisted scores off the sticks of Reed, Taylor Vanderbeek and Cooper Stefaniak. The run closed the deficit to 9-4, but Sipperly would get the final goal of the half with 32 ticks to play, sending the hosts into the break with 10-4 lead.

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