Golden Bears Down Nichols 20-8 to Remain Unbeaten in CCC Play

Hunter Cocks won 23-of-25 faceoffs and scooped up a game-high 12 ground balls in Western New England's 20-8 win over Nichols on Thursday. (Photo by Chris Marion)
Hunter Cocks won 23-of-25 faceoffs and scooped up a game-high 12 ground balls in Western New England's 20-8 win over Nichols on Thursday. (Photo by Chris Marion)

Ward records career-high 10 points (5G, 5A) while Cocks wins 23-of-25 faceoffs

DUDLEY, Mass. (April 4, 2019) – A strong first quarter performance sparked the Western New England University men's lacrosse team to a 20-8 win over Nichols College on Thursday afternoon in Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) action at Vendetti Field.

Top Performers
Senior attackman Jared Ward (Littleton, Mass.) was the offensive catalyst for the Golden Bears with a career-high ten points on five goals and five assists.

Freshman attackman Mike Bannon (Edmond, Okla.) produced a season-high six points (two goals, four assists), while junior John Shahpazian (New Providence, N.J.) scored four goals and freshman Noah Rust (Windham, N.H.) chipped in with three goals and one assist.

Senior faceoff specialist Hunter Cocks (Walden, N.Y.) turned in a near perfect performance, going 23-for-25 (92%) and scooping up a game-high 12 ground balls.

In the cage, junior Sean McCusker (Northport, N.Y.) turned aside 12 of the 19 shots that he faced.

The Bison were led by freshman midfielder Hunter Ferreira (Mansfield, Mass.), who finished with three goals and one assist.

Game Review
Western New England struck first just over three minutes into the contest when Ward scored on a feed from Bannon, but the Bison equalized on an unassisted goal by senior Brett Shiffer (Milford, N.H.) at the 9:45 mark.

The score remained tied for the next six minutes, before the Golden Bears used a 5-0 surge over the final 3:32 of the first quarter to open up a 6-1 advantage. Bannon started the run, and Shahpazian netted a pair (2:31, 1:53) with the help of assists from Ward. Ward then got in on the action with a goal off the ensuing facoff, and the senior captain completed his hat trick with 1:05 on the clock to cap Western New England's offensive spurt.

The two teams traded goals over the first eight and a half minutes of the second period, with the Golden Bears taking a 9-3 lead following a Ward-Bannon connection with 6:26 left in the half. Nichols responded with two straight goals to make it a 9-5 game, but Ward and junior Brendan Lyons (Syosset, N.Y.) both found the back of the net in the final minute to extend Western New England's advantage back to six (11-5) heading into halftime.

The low scoring third quarter featured just four goals, as the Golden Bears tallied the first three courtesy of Rust, sophomore Conor Tracy (Walpole, Mass.) and Ward before Ferreira scored for the Bison late in the frame.

Western New England, which held a 14-6 lead heading into the fourth quarter, outscored Nichols 6-2 over the final 15 minutes of play to extend the final margin of victory to 12.

Notes
• Western New England held a commanding advantage in shots (55-29) and ground balls (39-15).
• With the win, the Golden Bears improve to 25-4 all-time against the Bison. WNE has won 25 straight in the series after dropping the first four matchups with Nichols in the early 80's.

Up Next
Western New England (7-4, 4-0 CCC) is off until next Wednesday, when the Golden Bears travel to Gordon. Nichols (5-4, 1-2 CCC) hits the road on Saturday for a contest at Salve Regina.