Kings Point, NY – The USMMA men's lacrosse team faced an early 4-1 deficit but battled back to dominate the second half and defeat Catholic, 14-8, Saturday afternoon at Brooks Stadium. It's the first Landmark Conference victory for the Mariners since 2010 after a disappointing 0-6 campaign last season. John Atkinson (Garden City, NY) dished out five assists and also scored one goal to pace the potent Mariner attack. Chris Whitenack (East Meadow, NY) was phenomenal on the "X" for the Mariners, winning 19-of-26 face-offs and totaling 18 ground balls.
Catholic (3-6, 0-1 Landmark) got to the scoreboard early with an unassisted marker from Jake Eisenstodt as the Cardinals built a 4-1 advantage after the opening period. Geoff Harty (Chicago, IL) scored both of the Mariners first two goals but the visitors held a 5-2 edge with 4:49 to play in the half. For Catholic, Brendan Englert would finish the day with a team high two goals.
Merchant Marine (3-2, 1-0 Landmark) then began to claw its way back into the game as Kyle Sammis (Dix Hills, NY) and Phil Walker (East Falmouth, MA) both ripped unassisted goals within 42 seconds of each other to make it a 5-4 affair. Michael Ackerman (Malverne, PA) knotted the score at 5-5 with 2:39 left in the second quarter with an assist from Atkinson. However, the Cardinals tallied a man-up goal with 19 seconds on the clock to take a 6-5 lead into halftime. USMMA was limited to 0-6 on man-up opportunities in the first half.
The Cardinals again broke the ice in the second half with an early marker but from there it would be all Mariners. Merchant Marine caught fire and struck for three goals in a span of 1:44 as Brett Crawford (Arnold, MD), Ethan Medler (Kingwood, TX), and Atkinson all hit the twine to give the Mariners an 8-7 lead after the third quarter.
The two sides both had opportunities early in the fourth quarter until a Medler goal at the 7:07 mark made it a two-goal game and set the tone for the closing minutes. It took just 42 seconds for Harty to build on the momentum with a catch-and-release goal from an Atkinson pass. Whitenack would take the ensuing face-off the length of the field and deposit it passed the Catholic net minder to ignite the home crowd and give his team an 11-7 cushion. The next Cardinals tally was quickly met 43 seconds later with another Atkinson-to-Harty connection with five minutes to play in regulation.
USMMA posted the final two goals of the game off the sticks of Ackerman and Eric Kennedy (Massapequa, NY) to round out the final score line of 14-8. Senior Sam Heard (Boca Raton, FL) paced the Mariners defense with four caused turnovers and scooped up four ground balls. Goalkeeper Alex Peyreigne (Weston, CT) had another solid day between the pipes for Merchant Marine, registering 12 saves.
The USMMA men's lacrosse team will now begin a five-game road trip with a Tuesday game at Western Connecticut State.