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Men’s Lacrosse Defense Shines In Wheaton Game

Engineers’ Offense Lights Up Wheaton Goalie In Second Half Scoring Spree Lead By Rettig

By Justin M. Verdirame

TEAM MEMBER

The MIT men’s lacrosse team moved to 7-3 (4-1) and kept its playoff hopes alive with a hard fought 12-6 victory over Wheaton College. Teamwork was the key to the second half comeback: eight different players scored for the Engineers. The Engineers were lead by attackman Pascal Rettig ’01 (3 goals, 2 assists), attackman/midfielder Eli Weinberg ’02 (2G, 2A), and defenseman Chuck Toye ’00.

MIT controlled the opening quarter but only mananged a 2-0 lead. The goals were scored on extra man opportunities by midfielder Mark Kastantin ’03 and attackman Matt Van Horne ’02. The Engineers had a lot of quality scoring opportunities, but Wheaton goalie Chris Kelly was on fire.

In the second quarter, Wheaton dominated the play. They scored three straight goals. Two of them came on identical plays, a feed from behind the net to a cutting, unmarked midfielder. Wheaton controlled the ball for most of the quarter, and when MIT got chances, Kelly was up to the challenge. The Lyons took a 3-2 lead into halftime.

Offense picks up slack

The Engineers regrouped at halftime and came out firing. Offensively, the Engineers began shooting low on Kelly, and the strategy change gave MIT five third quarter goals. Wheaton managed to score two goals in the quarter, but the Engineers had a 7-5 lead and the momentum heading into the fourth thanks to a Kurtis McKenney ’01 goal with one second left. Additionally, a Wheaton slash on the play gave the Engineers another extra man opportunity at the beginning of the fourth quarter.

MIT continued its second half domination in the fourth quarter. Again, the Engineers scored five goals in the quarter while the defense limited Wheaton to one shot on goal. Unfortunately, that shot snuck past goalie Justin Verdirame ’00 for a goal to end the game with a final score of 12-6.

Defense locks down on opponent

For the third straight game, the close defense shut down the opposing attack. Chuck Toye held Wheaton’s leading scorer to no shots on goal. Once again, Brent Schreiber ’03 was a physical presence on defense. He set the tone early in the game with bone-crushing checks during loose ball situations.

MIT’s special teams have performed extremely well in the last three victories over Massachusetts Maritime, Babson, and Wheaton. The extra man offense is seven for thirteen during this stretch, and the man down defense has given up just five goals in twenty-three opportunities.

Injured reserve notes

In the last five days, the Engineers have lost two key midfielders to injury. Kurtis McKenney re-injured his shoulder in the fourth quarter against Wheaton. McKenney was beginning to play extremely well at both ends of the field. His speed and quickness make him a dangerous dodger. This is the second straight season that has been plagued by injuries for McKenney.

Starter John Schaeffer ’00 suffered a season ending knee injury in last Thursday's victory over the Massachusetts Maritime Academy. Schaeffer’s presence and leadership will be sorely missed. Throughout his career, he has been one of the team’s best defensive midfielders and one-on-one dodgers. The team will look to Kevin Ferguson ’02 and Woojin Choi ’03 to replace Schaeffer and McKenney in the midfield.

Wilmer and Verdirame awarded

Long stick middie Chris Wilmer ’02 and goalie Justin Verdirame were honored for their play in the team's victories over Babson and Massachusetts Maritime last week. Wilmer was named Rookie of the Week for the Pilgrim League. In the two victories, Wilmer had two assists and numerous strips, including a game saving takeaway with seconds left versus Babson. Verdirame was named Player of the Weak for the Pilgrim League and NEWMAC and Goalie of the Week for the ECAC. Verdirame had 33 saves while allowing 12 goals in the two games. These awards are indicative of the high quality team defense the Engineers have been playing recently. Wilmer and defensemen Schreiber, Jeff Steinheider G, and Toye have been forcing the opponents into poor shot selection making Verdirame’s job much easier.

The Engineers, ranked twelfth in New England, will host eleventh ranked Western New England College Saturday at 11 a.m. in a battle for the last playoff berth in the Pilgrim League tournament. The Engineers hope to have midfielder Pete Jenkins ’01 back from a thigh injury for Saturday’s game. Monday, MIT will finish its regular season when they host rival Tufts University. Related stories: