No. 12 Bryant Escapes with One-Goal Win at Providence

PROVIDENCE, R.I. Redshirt-freshman longpole Cody O'Donnell (Smithfield, R.I.) found the back of the net twice, including scoring the game winner with less than four minutes to play, as No. 12 Bryant held on for a 7-6 road win over Providence Tuesday night in an Ocean State Cup classic.

Providence (3-6) never let the Bulldogs (7-2) pull ahead by more than a pair of goals throughout the contest, eventually tying the game at 4-4 midway through the third quarter.

Senior midfielders Colin Dunster (Cos Cob, Conn.) and Alex Zomerfeld (Port Jefferson, N.Y.) would each feed the other for goals two minutes apart to renew the two-score edge, 6-4, with Zomerfeld getting the second with 2:45 left in the third. But after a 13-minute scoring drought for both sides, a transition goal from PC's Austin Goltz cut Bryant's lead back to one, 6-5, with 4:46 remaining in the contest.

O'Donnell got the goal back seconds later, taking a pass across the crease from sophomore Collins Gantz (Denver, Colo.) to push the visitors' advantage back up to two, 7-5, with what would turn out to be the game winner.

"It's no secret, he has been absolutely outstanding," said Bryant head coach Mike Pressler. "To see Cody score the first and last goal of the game was great. He's had just an outstanding year at both ends of the field."

But the result was anything but a foregone conclusion when a deflection off a save from sophomore goalie Gunnar Waldt (Freeland, Md.) ricocheted off Goltz and into the goal with 51 ticks left in the game. The Friars would win the ensuing faceoff and take their final timeout with 39 seconds remaining.

The Bulldogs' eighth-ranked defense would pack it in and stand tall with the game on the line, though, forcing the Friars to move the ball around until they ran out of time, failing to get a shot off in the final seconds to keep the Black and Gold on the winning side of the final margin.

"At this point in the season in the non-conference schedule, it's just all about winning any way you can," said Pressler. "These midweek games are players' games. We had to perform and hope we could play harder and better than what they could do."

The Bulldogs dominated the Friars on shots, 43-29, led by nine from Dunster, and won the ground ball battle, 30-20. Junior faceoff specialist Kevin Massa (Huntington, N.Y.) and senior defenseman Matt MacGrotty (New Westminster, British Columbia) each picked up a game-best four, with the former going 9 for 15 from the X.

Both teams struggled on the clear, failing five times each with pressure from the opposing side, and both the Bulldogs and the Friars got standout performances from their netminders in the outing. Waldt would finish the day with 11 stops (2 ground balls), while PC senior Tyler Himes made 13 saves (1 GB) despite the loss.

"Gunnar played like Gunnar," said Pressler. "This is game nine, and he's been consistent throughout. I think our biggest disappointment was that we missed the goal 20+ times. Especially early on, I felt it could have been 4-1 or 5-1 if we had hit the goal, but we just didn't do that."

The Bulldogs led throughout the first half, taking an early 2-0 lead on a transition goal from O'Donnell 2:41 into the opening stanza, followed by an unassisted marker from rookie Brett Baker (Ridgefield, Conn.) streaking across the goal from 10 yards out.

After an Andrew Barton tally cut the lead in half, sophomore attack Shane Morrell (Glen Mills, Pa.) renewed the two-score lead, 3-1, from the doorstep off a feed from Zomerfeld with 10:50 to go in the second quarter. PC answered with 2:29 left on the clock with a knuckleball goal from Nolan Fillet, but Dunster would capitalize on the Bulldogs' only man-up opportunity of the game 70 seconds later, whizzing a shot past Himes off a dish from Zomerfeld to send Bryant into the break with a 4-2 lead.

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