SPRINGFIELD, Mass., May 6, 2006 - Springfield College freshman attacker Jake Beebe (Sudbury, Mass.) scored six goals, including the game-winner with 26 seconds remaining in the second overtime to lead the visiting No. 2 Pride to a dramatic 12-11 victory over top-seeded Western New England College (WNEC) in the championship game of the 2006 Pilgrim League Tournament.
This was the fourth straight Pilgrim League title (and third by one-goal) for SC, which avenged a 10-5 home loss to the Golden Bears during the regular season (Apr. 12). Overall it was the eight consecutive win for the Pride, as SC has not lost since its regular-season defeat to WNEC.
With the thrilling championship victory, the Pride (13-4) has played its way into the NCAA Division III Tournament, as SC will travel to Middlebury College for a second-round game on Saturday, May 13th, beginning at 1:00 p.m. This is the 11th time in the history of the men's lacrosse program that the Pride will compete in NCAA Tournament play.
SC had captured the last two tournament crowns over Western New England College, winning 8-7 last year and 12-11 in 2004. The Pride posted a 14-4 victory over WNEC in the 2003 Pilgrim League championship contest to regain the title after the Golden Bears defeated SC by a one-goal margin (17-16) in 2002.
Western New England College took an early 2-0 lead in the opening three minutes after goals by senior attacker Joe Cassani (Barre, Vt.) and sophomore midfielder Jon Hayes (Waltham, Mass.). The Pride scored the next four goals, the last two by Beebe, including a man-down goal, to take a 4-2 lead after the opening period. Both teams tallied three times apiece in the second quarter as SC went into halftime with a 7-5 advantage. Beebe then added two goals in the third quarter to give the Pride a 9-5 lead after 45 minutes of play.
SC appeared headed for an easy victory when senior attacker Taylor Brown (Portsmouth, R.I.) scored his only goal of the game with 9:15 remaining to put the Pride ahead by an 11-6 margin.
With a large crowd urging them on, however, Western New England College staged a remarkable comeback by scoring five times in the final 5:22, including two in the last minute. Sophomore midfielder Brody Savoie (Wilbraham, Mass.) pulled the Golden Bears within one at the 51-second mark before Hayes tied the contest (with an assist from Savoie) with 17 seconds left in regulation.
WNEC sophomore goalie Chris Body (Newtown, Conn.) and SC junior goaltender Kyle Cloutier (South Hadley, Mass.) each made six saves in the first overtime period to keep the game deadlocked. Body finished with 26 saves, while Cloutier stopped 29 shots in outstanding performances.
The Pride thought it had won the game with 1:28 left in the second overtime when freshman attacker Pat Cavanaugh (Wayland, Mass.) fired a shot that hit both pipes and bounced down. One official signaled a goal and the SC players ran on the field to celebrate. The officials then discussed the play and the goal was disallowed, setting the stage for Beebe’s winning shot. Beebe also had two assists to cap an eight-point afternoon.
Junior attacker Adam Cherry (Westfield, Mass.) had another great performance for Western New England College with three goals and four assists. Savoie finished with three goals and two assists, while Cassani had three goals and Hayes two. Sophomore attacker Bryan Cofrin (Londonderry, N.H.) contributed two assists.
To go along with Beebe's six goals, Cavanaugh, Brown, senior Brandon Asplundh (Bryn Athyn, Pa.), sophomores Greg Welch (Peabody, Mass.) and Steve Krasco (Medford, Mass.), and freshman Chris Jez (Somers, Conn.) all contributed with a score to help lift the Pride. Sophomore midfielder Chris Sharpe (Derry, N.H.) chipped in with two assists on the afternoon.