SFU collected two wins on Midwest roadtrip
The nationally ranked #25 Simon Fraser headed to the Midwest to complete a threegame road trip against the reigning Great River Lacrosse Conference champ Illinois, #9 Michigan State, and #24 Davenport.
The six-day travel proved to be one of the most important trips of the season, as the Clansmen looked to secure an at-large bid (if needed) into the National Championship in May.
The first matchup of the series was played on Thursday against home team Illinois, who fell to the Clansmen 7–2.
Midfielder Sam Clare opened up the scoring for the Clan early on in the first quarter off a nice pass from attackman Eric Ransom. Shortly after, midfielder Alex Bohl finished off a look from Chris Pond to put the Clan up by two early on in the game. Nearing the end of the first quarter, Illinois attackman Colin Chatten got his team on the board to make the game 2–1 heading into the second.
The second quarter saw a variety of opportunistic exchanges for each team, however exceptional goaltending from both sides held each team scoreless in the second quarter. SFU senior goaltender Kyle Middleton made seven saves in the first half, holding Illinois to just one goal through the first 30 minutes of gameplay.
Trading halves with Middleton throughout the entire three game series, junior goaltender Darren Zwack took over the net in the second half and followed up quite nicely on Middleton’s outstanding first half effort.
Opening up the third quarter of play, Ransom fed a speedy Jordan Stroup cutting through the middle to give the freshmen his first point of his collegiate career. Then SFU midfielder Brendan Farrell ripped a nice shot on the run, immediately followed by a fast-break goal by attackman Colton Dow to put the Clan up 5–1.
Showing the Clan that they were not finished yet, Illinois midfielder Ryan Walker shot one past Zwack making the score 5–2. As the fourth quarter approached, SFU’s Clare sniped his second of the game to close out the quarter and increase the Clan’s lead by four.
The final quarter of play saw an incredible effort by SFU’s defense, which held Illinois to yet another scoreless quarter. Meanwhile, Ransom capitalized on a nice feed from fellow attackman Ward Spencer to close out the game 7–2.
The Clan’s defense, led by Alex Thompson, Mark Hilker, Bayne Bosquet, Tommy Newton and Riley Wanzer, locked down Illinois offense for the majority of the matchup, holding them to just two goals throughout 60 minutes of play.
In the first half, Middleton averaged an incredible .875 save percentage (S%), while Zwack complemented Middleton’s numbers nicely with eight saves, holding Illinois to just one goal (.889 S%) throughout the remainder of the game.
After the win against Illinois, SFU spent the majority of the next day traveling to East Lansing, Michigan where they were set to face off against the #9 Michigan State Spartans on the following Friday. Despite a 6–2 downfall in the first half, the Clan would claw their way back to complete one of the most incredible comebacks in the program’s history.
With a little elbow grease and a clutch game-winning goal by freshmen midfielder Andrew Branting, the SFU underdogs would upset the Spartans 10–9, and add another win to their repertoire. The win was SFU’s third top 20 victory of the regular season as they look to climb back up in the rankings.
Spencer put SFU on the scoreboard off a nice look by Ransom to give the Clan the early lead. However, MSU responded with two back-to-back goals by Tyler Ryan, giving the Spartans the 2–1 lead heading into the second frame.
MSU continued their scoring spree in the second quarter, scoring three straight to give the Spartans a 5–1 lead over the hurting Clansmen. However, a Spartan penalty proved to be just what SFU needed to stay alive. SFU’s Clare finished on the man-up opportunity, off a nice pass from Ransom to keep the Clan in the game. As the second half came to a close, MSU attackman Josh Nemes put one past Middleton to give MSU a 6–2 lead in the first half.
After an uplifting intermission pep talk, SFU came out in the second half with guns blazing, scoring five straight to give the Clan its first lead of the game. Clare scored first with a nice shot from outside to ignite the flame for the Clan. Then attackman Frank Davalos scored an inside rip off of a gift from Farrell, bringing the deficit down 6–4. Fueled by momentum, Ransom, with his superhuman abilities, scored a natural hat trick to put the Clansmen ahead 7–6 as they approached the final frame.
Ransom continued the onslaught in the fourth quarter, finding freshman midfielder Matt Bailey on a nice quick stick goal to extend the Clan’s lead by two.
However, MSU’s Nemes refused to let the Clan run away with the victory as he assisted on a Patrick Green goal, and then scored two of his own, taking back the lead in the final minutes of the game.
As the final minute approached, Spencer shot one past the MSU goaltender to tie the game at nine. SFU’s head coach Brent Hoskins took timeout with just 16 seconds left in regulation to set up a play, which hoped to give the Clan a victory.
Following the timeout, Spencer threaded the needle off of a quick dodge from behind the net and found Branting coming in hot on the inside for the goal and the most dramatic win of SFU’s 2013 season.
Despite two hard-ear ned wins by SFU, the tired Clansmen fell to #24 Davenport 10–9 to finish out the three-game road trip.