NCAA Tournament: Late Surge Pushes No. 10 Wesleyan Past Western New England, 11-8

Jared Ward recorded a team-high 4 points in Western New England's NCAA Tournament loss to Wesleyan on Wednesday. (Photo by Steve McLaughlin)
Jared Ward recorded a team-high 4 points in Western New England's NCAA Tournament loss to Wesleyan on Wednesday. (Photo by Steve McLaughlin)

Ward leads Golden Bears with 2 goals & 2 assists in final collegiate contest

MIDDLETOWN, Conn. (May 8, 2019) – The Western New England University men's lacrosse team held a third quarter lead but eventually fell to No. 10 nationally ranked Wesleyan University, 11-8, in the second round of the NCAA Division III Tournament on Wednesday afternoon at Jackson Field.

Wesleyan (13-3), the defending national champion, moves on to face Amherst College in third round action on Saturday, while Western New England's season comes to a close at 14-6.

Top Performers
Western New England's offense was led by senior attackman Jared Ward (Littleton, Mass.), who finished with two goals and two assists in his final collegiate contest. Freshman attackman Mike Bannon (Edmond, Okla.) posted a three-point effort (one goal, two assists), while junior midfielder John Shahpazian (New Providence, N.J.) scored two goals.

Senior Hunter Cocks (Walden, N.Y.) won 13-of-21 faceoffs, and junior goalie Sean McCusker (Northport, N.Y.) recorded 15 saves.

Wesleyan's offense was fueled by seniors Christian Barker (Highlands Ranch, Colo.) and Carter Hawthorne (Massapequa, N.Y.), who produced five points each with three goals and two assists. Sophomore Ronan Jacoby (Glastonbury, Conn.) contributed three goals and one assist for the Cardinals.

Junior goalie Otto Bohan (Westlake, Ohio) was strong in the cage, turning aside 13 of the 21 shots that he faced.

Game Review
The Cardinals got off to a strong start with goals from Barker, Hawthorne and senior Colin Uyeki (North Haven, Conn.), forcing a Western New England timeout at the 11:03 mark of the opening quarter.

After the home team took a 4-0 lead with 5:59 remaining in the frame, the Golden Bears got their offense going as Bannon (4:40) and Shahpazian (2:27) found the back of the net to cut the deficit in half heading into the second quarter.

Both defenses excelled in the second period, with Shahpazian scoring the only goal of the frame at the 13:58 mark as Western New England pulled to within one (4-3) at the break.

Wesleyan scored the opening goal of the third quarter courtesy of senior Zander Kotsen (Mountain Lakes, N.J.), but the Golden Bears responded with a 3-0 spurt, taking their first lead (6-5) on a goal by sophomore Conor Tracy (Walpole, Mass.) with 7:24 remaining in the frame.

The Cardinals took control from there, however, scoring three unanswered goals to close out the quarter with two from Barker and one from Jacoby to regain an 8-6 edge heading into the fourth.

Jacoby (14:32) and Hawthorne (12:50) scored early in the final quarter to extend Wesleyan's lead to four (10-6). The Golden Bears were able to get to within three on a couple of occasions late with the help of Ward, who tallied both of his goals in the frame, but the Cardinals held on down the stretch.

• Western New England won the faceoff battle (13-8), but the Cardinals outshot the Golden Bears 41-34 and held a 34-26 advantage in ground balls.
• Western New England was making its second consecutive and tenth overall appearance in the NCAA Tournament.