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College soccer: Saints light up scoreboard in NCAA Division III opener

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CANTON — The St. Lawrence University men’s soccer team waited for its most important game of the season to have its best offensive showing.

SLU used a four-goal second half to defeat Thomas (Maine) 5-1 in a first-round game of the NCAA Division III Tournament on Saturday at Sandy MacAllaster Field.

The Saints will face Wheaton (Mass.) in a second-round game today at 1:30 p.m.

“All season it’s been a struggle to score,” SLU captain Andrew Bednarsky said. “Getting a goal early just helps us out. Other games we’ve been waiting until the 80th minute, or (overtime) to score. It makes them kind of a little rattled, because we did score. It really helped us in the mindset game.”

SLU (16-2-2 overall) controlled play right from the start of Saturday’s game and, as Bednarsky mentioned, did score early when Daniel Hunt scored off a pass from Harry Copeland in the 10th minute.

“As long as we have the ball they can’t score,” Bednarsky said. “If we keep passing hopefully the gaps will open up.”

The Saints dominated the first half, outshooting Thomas 4-0, but only scored the one goal, giving the Terriers (12-8-1) some hope heading into the second half.

“Once we got settled down I thought we were a little bit more organized and making things a little bit more difficult for them,” Thomas coach Chris Parsons said. “We felt fortunate they didn’t score another goal in the first half.”

Thomas did regroup in the second half and outplayed SLU early, tying the game 1-1 when Michael Hand scored in the 56th minute.

But SLU answered just 68 seconds later when Hunt scored his second goal of the game on a play that started with a corner kick from Mark Provost. Hunt headed the ball into the right corner of the net.

“It was really important,” SLU coach Bob Durocher said of the goal. “It was really disappointing to give (the lead) up . We talked about this stage of the game that there was time to come back and get ahold of this and get this done and they did really well with that.”

Less than three minutes after Hunt gave SLU a 2-1 lead Bednarsky made it 3-1 when he drilled a rebound past Thomas goalie Mikkail Crockwell in the 60th minute.

Including Saturday’s game, the Saints have scored 37 goals this season and 26 have come in the second half of games.

“Soccer is 90-minute game, so in the first 45 we kind of figure out the other team, figure out their weakness and we like going toward the fans in the second half.” Bednarsky said. “That’s our side. We like attacking that side a lot better. We figure out teams like a puzzle and open them up.”

The Saints extended the lead to 4-1 in the 70th minute when Hunt scored on a penalty kick, giving him three goals for the game. Hunt, a defender, had only four goals during the regular season.

“I just like to score, I guess,” Hunt said. “It’s a lot of fun. I’m not the penalty kicker, but for a hat trick I knew I had to take it.”

The Saints added one more goal in the 88th minute when Rob Brandell put a shot from 25 yards away into the upper corner of the net.

SLU’s season ended last year in the second round with a 2-1 loss at Williams, but this time the squad will play their second-round game at home.

“You have to stay calm in these kind of situations,” Bednarsky said. “Just like (Thomas’s goal), we just had to stay calm and we answered that with another four goals after that. You can’t get too rattled up inside.”

Said Durocher, “We haven’t scored a lot of goals this year, so to score that many goals, it was a big surprise. I thought maybe we’d get to three just because of the chances we were creating. But we were trying to rest guys as much as we can because we’ve got to come back and play (today). It was nice to see guys come off the bench and contribute as well.”


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