With one fell swoop, the Goucher men's lacrosse team may have completed two assignments on its to-do list.
The No. 13 Gophers' 13-8 victory over Scranton Saturday not only helped them avenge a loss to the Royals in last year's Landmark Conference Tournament final, but Goucher moved one step closer to preventing Scranton from repeating as tournament champion.
The Royals' loss at Gopher Stadium in Towson combined with Catholic's 14-11 win against Susquehanna puts them in fifth place in the league. Scranton must beat Catholic in the regular-season finale to create a three-way tie for third place. Tiebreakers would then determine the third- and fourth-place teams, who would move onto the Landmark Conference Tournament.
The thought of possibly ending the Royals' season drew a smile from Gophers senior attackman Kyle Boncaro.
"I'd love it," he said. "I'd love to see Scranton not be able to play another game. In my four years, they're the only Landmark team that has beaten us. So from the seniors' point of view, we'd love to see Scranton sitting on the couch when it comes to Landmark Conference play."
Boncaro's candidness might have had something to do with Saturday's contest, one that Goucher (14-1 overall and 5-0 in the league) appeared to be in firm control of in the second quarter with a pair of six-goal advantages – at 7-1 with 12:58 left in the period and at 9-3 with 11.9 seconds remaining.
But the Royals refused to go quietly, scoring five unanswered goals in a run that spanned the second, third and fourth quarters. During that rally, senior attackman Daniel Slade, who tortured the Gophers with five goals and one assist in last spring's 12-8 upset in the tournament final, scored two of his team-high four goals.
But after freshman attackman Anthony Lombardo converted a pass from senior midfielder Mike Rufo on an extra-man opportunity to make the score 9-8 with 12:15 left in regulation, Goucher senior midfielder Matt Lynch needed just 34 seconds to end an 18:31 drought with his fourth goal of game.
Lynch's tally ignited a four-goal, win-clinching run, which was perhaps a little too close for Gophers coach Kyle Hannan.
"Kind of in the back of my mind, I knew we were going to have to stay on all cylinders because they're very good," Hannan said. "They were the Landmark champions last year. So they can make runs like that. I was proud more so of the way the guys handled that storm and came back and scored the last four goals of the game."
Lynch, who led all scorers with seven points on five goals and two assists, conceded that Scranton's rally sparked Goucher.
"It was a little worrisome because we've played them in the past a lot and we've been ahead and they've come back," he said. "So it was kind of like, 'Here we go again.' We got it going again to stop their streak, and we felt like we got the game back under control and that we could take the win and finish out strong."
The Royals, who fell to 8-5 overall and 2-3 in the conference, were left wondering what could've been had they not fallen into those six-goal deficits in the second quarter. Coach Jim Rogalski said the Gophers' motivation to avenge last year's loss was evident from the opening faceoff.
"We had to ride the storm out," he said. "They were excited. This is a home game for them. They were trying to clinch first place. They were excited. We tried to ride that storm out and I think we did into the second half."