Mercer Pulls Away for Victory at Wagner

Staten Island, NY Mercer broke open a close game by scoring the final eight goals of the game as the Bears posted their fourth consecutive victory, by a 16-5 count over Wagner, on a cloudy, raw and wind-swept day at Hameline Field.

With the win, Mercer improves its season record to 6-3 while the Seahawks fall to 2-6.

Wagner is next in action on Saturday, April 5 when the Green & White begin Northeast Conference play with a 1:00 pm faceoff at home vs. the Colonials of Robert Morris.

The Green & White took an early 2-0 lead over Mercer today when sophomore Griffen LeClaire (White Rock, British Columbia/Toronto, Hill Academy) buried a shot off of an assist by freshman Andrew Tirelli (East Setauket, NY/Ward Melville) at the 12:24 mark, which was followed by an unassisted tally by redshirt freshman Patrick McMenamin (Longport, NJ/St. Augustine Prep) at 10:07.

After Whit Anderson got Mercer on the board off a feed from Cole Branch midway through the first quarter, Patrick McMenamin put the Seahawks in front 3-1 after receiving a pass from sophomore Billy Battaglia (Madison, NJ/Madison) with 11:19 left in the opening half. The Bears responded with a 4-0 run over the next 9:17 to take a 5-3 lead at halftime.

Zack Ward opened the second half at the 12:28 mark with a goal off of a Chris Baxa assist to extend the Mercer lead to 6-3, a tally which set off a wild, three-goal flurry between the teams in a 28-second span. Six seconds after Ward's goal, freshman Anthony Labetti (Moorestown,, NJ/Moorestown) delivered a sterling individual effort. After winning the ensuing faceoff, and collecting the ground ball himself, the frosh sprinted down the middle of the field on a one-man fast-break, sling-shotting a goal home from eight yards in cutting the deficit to 6-4 with 12:22 left in the third.

Anderson and Baxa followed with consecutive goals for Mercer as the Bears built their lead back to four at 8-4. Wagner was still very much in the game when LeClaire delivered a low blast past goalie Mike Nugent with 9:09 remaining in the third quarter to draw the Seahawks to within three goals at 8-5.

The Bears regained momentum and went up 9-5 when Ward sank a wrap-around goal with three seconds left in the third quarter. Buoyed by the Ward goal, Mercer went on to outscore Wagner 7-0 in the fourth quarter en route to registering the 16-5 win.

Ward led all scorers with seven points on six goals and an assist for the Bears while Baxa recorded six points on four goals and two assists. Anderson and Cole finished with two goals apiece for Mercer, which outshot Wagner 42-24 and led in groundballs by a 37-23 count.

Perhaps the game's most telling statistic came on faceoffs as Justin Evans took all 25 for the Bears, winning 20, in keying the victory. Mercer was successful on 14 of 20 clear attempts while the Seahawks were 13 of 17 on clears. The Bears went 2 of 4 on extra-man opportunities with Wagner going 0 of 3 on EMOs.

Griffen LeClaire and Patrick McMenamin led Wagner offensively with two goals each while Labetti had one. Battaglia and Tirelli had one assist apiece for the Seahawks.

Wagner, which entered the game ranked No. 1 in the nation with an average of 11.29 caused turnovers per game, came up with 14 this afternoon as Mercer committed 23 turnovers compared to the Seahawks' 17. Patrick McMenamin, Tirelli and sophomore Sean Gray (Tabernacle, NY/Seneca) paced the Seahawks defensively with three caused turnovers each.

Gibaldi, Tirelli and junior Michael McMenamin (Longport, NJ/St. Augustine Prep) each recorded three groundballs to pace the Seahawks in this department.

In goal, Nugent stopped seven shots for Mercer, while allowing all five goals in 56:05 of action, in recording the win before Ryan Smith came on to record two saves in the game's final 3:55.

For Wagner, senior Nicholas Gibaldi (Rocky Point, NY/Rocky Point) came up with 11 saves in the game's first 53:36. Junior Anthony Peruso (Warwick, NY/John S. Burke Catholic) came on with 6:24 left to play.


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