Vikings Pull Away Late to Take Down Lafayette

Vikings Pull Away Late to Take Down Lafayette

CLEVELAND, Ohio – The Cleveland State University lacrosse team never trailed in Tuesday night's contest, as the Vikings used a dominant fourth quarter to break open a close game and claim a 12-6 win over visiting Lafayette inside Krenzler Dome.

CSU led just, 7-6, after three quarters, but the Vikings outscored the Leopards, 5-0, in the final frame to seal the victory.

Cleveland State had a 13-5 advantage in shots in the final quarter despite winning only one of six faceoffs in the period. The Vikings achieved that feat by forcing the Leopards into eight turnovers, including a trio of failed clears, in the final quarter while freshman Stephen Russo also made three saves in the period.

For the game, Cleveland State had advantages in shots, shots on goal, ground balls and clear percentage. The Vikings also had fewer turnovers and fewer penalties than Lafayette.

Sophomore Nate Menendez contributed a hat trick to lead the Viking offense. After having two goals in his first 14 collegiate games, Menendez now has eight in the past four, including two hat tricks in the past three games.

Russo was again a commanding presence in the cage as he finished with 11 saves and four ground balls. It was the third time in four games that Russo reached double figures in saves and saved over half the shots on goal he faced.

Freshman Michael Wilson showed no signs of letting up yet as he has now posted points in each of his first eight collegiate games. Wilson had a goal and two assists Tuesday for his third straight multi-point and second straight multi-assist game. He now owns six multi-point outings on the season.

Freshman Tristen Hanna notched his first multi-point game Tuesday. He scored the first two goals of his career and added an assist and two ground balls. Classmate Jake Higgins notched his second straight multi-goal game with a pair of strikes and added four ground balls.

After neither team scored on its opening two possessions, the Vikings found Menendez in the middle of the field on the clear. Menendez got his defender turned around and shot on the run to put CSU on top.

Lafayette answered two possessions later via Luke Smith to tie the score. Both teams had man-up chances over the next three minutes but neither would score.

Late in the first quarter, Higgins took a pass from Sherwin Gersten and then used a screen set by the sophomore to create some space and fire home. However, the Leopards scored in the final 30 seconds of the frame to even the score.

After forcing a failed clear on Lafayette's first possession of the second quarter, sophomore Jack Frickleton found Higgins in space up top, and the rookie converted for the second time. Frickleton then scored one himself only 18 seconds later as he rolled left, using a screen from freshman Michael Harris, and found the twine.

The Leopards scored on their next two possessions to tie the game. Neither team scored for the next nine minutes, as the teams combined for three saves and two turnovers in that stretch.

Sophomore Brandon Ruditz caused a Lafayette turnover with time winding down in the half. Freshman Carter Pavain scooped up the ball and hit sophomore Parese Williams in stride racing up the field. Williams completed the clear before bouncing a shot home for his first tally as a Viking, as his strike set the halftime score.

The Vikings came out firing early in the second half. After sophomore Danny Tesler won the opening faceoff, he hit Wilson. Wilson found Hanna on the crease, and Hanna spun around and scored.

Just over a minute later, Hanna repaid the favor. After his shot was saved, he gathered the rebound and found Wilson out in front for a goal.

Lafayette scored the next two goals to pull back within one with about 20 minutes remaining in the game. However, the Vikings would not let the game be tied.

Russo made a big save on a Leopards' fast-break chance about three minutes into the fourth quarter. CSU then added insurance on the ensuing possession when sophomore Stephen Masi beat his man to the right and found a lane to shoot.

Tesler won the ensuing faceoff, and the Vikings gained further breathing room when Menendez used a nifty spin move to work away from a double team and buried a low shot.

Cleveland State forced Lafayette into turnovers on each of its next four possessions to help see out the win as the Vikings added a trio of goals late in the action.

Wilson has scored in seven of eight games this season while Frickleton posted his second straight multi-point game, his fourth in the last six and the 12th of his career. Williams has points in three of the past four games.

Tesler won 10 faceoffs and notched six ground balls while Ruditz caused three turnovers and added a ground ball.

It was the sixth time in seven games that the Vikings had fewer turnovers than their opponent. CSU scored within 15 seconds of a faceoff for the eighth time in nine games.

Cleveland State will remain at home this weekend as it welcomes No. 3 Duke Sunday, March 18, at 1:00 p.m.