The No. 11 Ithaca College men’s lacrosse team came up short in the Empire 8 semifinal, falling to the Nazareth College Golden Flyers 14–13 in overtime on May 3 at Higgins Stadium. The Bombers finished its season with an overall record of 13–4 and 7–1 in conference play.
The Bombers got off to a good start when sophomore midfielder Josh Della Puca went unassisted to score the game’s opening goal.
Six seconds later, sophomore defenseman Sean Seaberg scooped up a groundball in the faceoff and took it all the way to the net to score for the Bombers.
After junior attacker Jake Cotton found senior attacker and captain John Januszkiewicz, who finished calmly to put the Blue and Gold up 3–0, Della Puca struck again with another solo effort to make it 4–0 in favor of the Bombers.
The Golden Flyers finally found the net when junior midfielder Jason Partridge passed the ball to senior midfielder Hunter Burdick, who scored a goal. The Bombers still led 4–1.
Thirty-four seconds later, Della Puca scored his third goal of the game to put the South Hill Squad up 5–1.
Nazareth then snagged the game’s next three goals, bringing the Golden Flyers to be within one of the Bombers lead early in the second half.
It was here where the offensive firepower of the Blue and Gold was put on display, as the Bombers rattled home three more goals, as junior attacker Kaelan Fitzpatrick got on the scoreboard, while Della Puca added his fourth and Januszkiewicz his second.
The Bombers entered the halftime break up 8–4.
The Golden Flyers began the second half by scoring four consecutive goals in the quarter’s opening three minutes.
After coming off a timeout by the Bombers, Della Puca drove towards the net, but chose to dump it off to senior attacker Jack Shumway, who scored to give the Bombers a 9–8 advantage.
Nazareth responded as the Golden Flyers netted another two goals to close out the third quarter and one to start the fourth quarter, giving Nazareth an 11–9 lead with just 12:15 remaining in the game.
The back and forth contest between the two Empire foes continued as Januszkiewicz’s hat trick goal brought the Bombers within one, only to then be level after Della Puca scored his fifth goal.
With just under seven minutes to play, Nazareth junior attack Connor Chapman took advantage of a man-up situation and put the Golden Flyers up 12–11.
Two minutes later, junior midfielder Stephen Morrell caught a pass from Della Puca to equalize the score for the Bombers and make it a 12–12 contest with just over four minutes to play.
After Nazareth scored with just 2:38 remaining, the Bombers went to their main offensive threat, Shumway, who netted another goal for the Bombers to make it 13-13.
After a defensive stop and a missed offensive possession for the Bombers to end the fourth quarter, the game moved to overtime.
Taking a timeout after winning the faceoff, the Golden Flyers set up a play in which senior midfielder Luke Longo scored the game winning goal, allowing the Golden Flyers to take the game 14–13.
Nazareth head coach Rob Randall praised his team’s persistence in the wake of their win.
“They played with a never give up attitude,” Randall said. “It hasn’t really gone our way all year, so it’s nice in these last couple games that it has gone our way.”
When the Golden Flyers surrendered their fourth quarter lead, Randall said the overtime game plan was simple.
“We wanted to get the ball, and they [the team] wanted to run a look off an invert [lacrosse play], and fortunately it worked,” Randall said.
With Stevens Institute of Technology defeating Hartwick College 14–4 in the tournament’s other semifinal, the Golden Flyers will now have to go on the road again for the Empire 8 Championship game on May 6.
“We’re gonna have to play a game against a great team, who is a very well-coached team, and we’re going to have to go down and give it our best effort,” Randall said.