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Bombers’ second half surge not enough to overcome No. 2 Engineers

Senior+attackman+John+Sramac+attempts+to+dodge+around+an+Engineer+defender+in+the+Bombers+10%E2%80%939+loss+on+March+30.+Sramac+had+two+late+game+goals+in+the+matchup+and+cut+the+deficit+to+one+goal+with+5%3A44+remaining.
Maddy Tanzman
Senior attackman John Sramac attempts to dodge around an Engineer defender in the Bombers’ 10–9 loss on March 30. Sramac had two late game goals in the matchup and cut the deficit to one goal with 5:44 remaining.

The Ithaca College men’s lacrosse team’s second half comeback bid fell short to the undefeated and No. 2 ranked Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Engineers, who came up 10–9 against the Bombers on March 30.

The last time these two met in the Spring 2023 season, the Engineers came out victorious 14–9. In the last matchup, senior attackmen John Sramac and Kyle Savery scored two goals each for the Bombers. 

The Bombers came out aggressive into the Engineers’ defensive zone early at Higgins Stadium, with six shots and two on goal in the first three minutes. The Engineers’ defense proved too harsh during that span, as the South Hill Squad was shut out. 

Once the Engineers’ offense had a chance to make something happen, it executed quickly. Engineers’ sophomore attackman Tyler Ruffini hit the net with the game’s opening goal with 8:42 left in the first quarter. The Bombers tried to respond promptly with multiple shots on the Engineers’ defense, but they were read like a book. Soon after, graduate student midfielder Luke Murphy was able to score on the Bombers’ defensive front, which collapsed during that sequence, giving the Engineers a 2–0 lead.

The Bombers’ offense answered soon after Murphy’s goal. Junior attackman Kyle Proctor ate the donut off the scoreboard to get the Bombers’ first goal. The Engineers quickly got their foot back in the game when graduate student attackman Erik Ojert responded with a goal 30 seconds later. Ojert tried scoring another through graduate student goalkeeper Cole Corrigans’ legs, but was stopped. That would conclude the action in the first quarter, with the Engineers up 3–1. 

The second quarter started opposite of the first, with the Engineers’ offense pressuring the Bombers’ defense in the first few minutes. Corrigan stood on his head though, allowing no goals and two beautiful saves in the opening three minutes. 

The Engineers capitalized on a four-on-three breakaway five minutes in, with junior defender Ty Stanek shooting a missile right past Corrigan’s stick to make it 4–1. The Engineers’ offense figured out the Bombers’ defensive scheme, getting two more past Corrigan in the span of a minute halfway through the second quarter. The clock winded down in the first half, but the Engineers’ offense did not. Murphy put another goal on the board with 4:17 left until halftime to give a comfortable 7–1 lead to the Engineers.

It took until the final seconds in the first half for Ithaca to respond to the four unanswered RPI goals, with Proctor scoring his second of the day to conclude the first thirty minutes of action, with the Engineers leading 7–2. 

The Engineers started the second half with full-on aggression, quickly putting the Bombers’ defense on their heels, but the Bombers defensive front held up. The Engineers gave up two turnovers in the first minutes of the second half, as Bombers’ sophomore midfielder Sam Baker scored from distance to make it a 7–3 Engineer lead with 10:18 to go in the third quarter. 

Ithaca had a breakaway chance halfway through the quarter, but the Engineers’ defense turned on the jets to stop the scoring chance. When the Bombers got another look, sophomore midfielder Cullen Adams got one past the Engineers’ junior goalkeeper Joseph Perry as the comeback became a possibility with the Bombers down 7–4. 

With five minutes to go in the quarter, the Engineers scored their first goal of the half, getting one to roll behind Corrigan’s back as he tried to grasp the rubber. The Bombers momentum did not come to a halt though, as junior midfielder Graham Brady answered right back with his tenth goal of the year to narrow the window to 9–5.

Junior attackman Jack Pastore kept the momentum riding for the Bombers when he ran around the cage and wristed one past Perry’s stick to give the Bombers some hope with 15 minutes left to play. 

The fourth quarter started off with a lightning reaction from Corrigan, who lifted his shoulder to stop an early goal from getting past him, but the Engineers did not stop the pressure as Corrigan’s kryptonite, Murphy, got his sixth goal of the game to extend the lead to 10–6.

Proctor kept the comeback alive with his third goal of the game to get the Bombers’ bench re-energized with 9:30 left in this offensive battle. 

First-year midfielder Jack Giannuzzi ripped one to the net but was stopped by Perry’s stick. The ball was then snagged by Sramac who wristed one past the goalkeeper to narrow the Engineers’ lead to 10–8. The South Hill fans started to believe in a miracle as Sramac got another one through the cage two minutes later to cut the Bombers’ deficit to one point. 

Sramac loves any opportunity he gets against a ranked team, which is why he said he was not fazed by the pressure as the clock winded down.

“We have played a lot of top five teams, even number one teams in the nation,” Sramac said. “I really look forward to that more than fear it. It is such a great opportunity, part of why you come to Ithaca College.”

When discussing the sudden offensive turnaround in the second half, Sramac said there was no lack of belief in the locker room at halftime. 

“Offensively, we knew we had a lot of great chances that we weren’t scoring on,” Sramac said. We just knew we had to put our shots away and take advantage and bury those opportunities. The belief was always there when we were getting good looks.”

The Engineers defense did not let another goal get by them, as they halted the Ithaca offense to conclude an incredible matchup at Higgins Stadium.

With the loss, the Bombers’ record goes to 6–4 on the year. The Bombers will travel to face off with No. 8 ranked Union College at 12 p.m., April 6 in Schenectady, NY.

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Maddy Tanzman
Maddy Tanzman, Photo Editor
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