by Matt Morrison | MCLA.us
A fast start for No. 13 seed Sierra Nevada College shook No. 4 seed North Dakota State in the Division II opener, but only for one quarter.
Unrattled after giving up three quick goals and trailing 5-2 in the second quarter, the Bison rallied back by halftime before rolling through the fourth quarter with a 13-7 victory.
“The biggest thing for us was just calming down. We got a little bit ahead of ourselves, had a lot of turnovers,” said NDSU coach Zach Bosh. “Our mentality was ‘win the next quarter, win the next play’, and through the course of the game we did that.”
Down a goal in the closing seconds before half, senior midfielder Ryan Heid completed the Bison comeback, hitting the net with one second on the clock to tie the game at five.
“They were just closing on us fast all the time,” said Heid, who finished with two goals and four assists. “Toward the end of the half they started pushing it more to the outside and I started moving toward the backside every time and that opened it up.”
The teams traded goals in the third period with NDSU taking a 7-6 lead before the Bison outscored the Eagles 6-1 in the final frame.
“We knew we had a pretty good match-up, our defense with their attack. We played three good quarters,” SNC coach Matt Blamey said. “Ultimately I think we just ran out of gas.”
Attackman Kevin Sturgeon stood out on the stat sheet, scoring five goals for the Bison. Not a bad start in the national tournament for a freshman.
“He definitely doesn’t play like one,” said Bosh of his first-year standout whose older brother Kyle is a Bison assistant coach and the all-time leading scorer at NDSU. “I think he has a lot of family pressure to live up to big expectations.”
After giving up three quick scores in the first quarter, freshman goalie Matt Kotta settled in, allowing only four more the rest of the way with a series of acrobatic, quick-handed saves.
“He’s genetically part flying squirrel,” said junior defenseman Andrew Markland of his man in net. “He’s just a freak of nature when it comes to stuff like that. He really doesn’t care about his body at all, it’s all about the team.”
The Eagles were also led by a freshman attackman as Nic Zvirzin netted five goals in the loss. Eleven SNC players showed up on the scorings sheet with either goals or assists.
“Our goal was to peak in the last game of the tournament,” Blamey said as his team’s season will finish in the consolation round, “and we want to continue that (Tuesday), championship or not.”
Defending Champions Cruise to Opening Win
Second-seeded Dayton scored the first seven goals of the game, bolstered by four from senior middie Matt Kausel, on the way to an 18-3 victory over No. 15 Southern Oregon. With the victory, the Flyers advance to the quarterfinals, where they’ll meet the winner of the Reinhardt-Grove City contest.
Sean Dolan contributed to the Dayton (15-2) with three goals and an assist while Ryan Cass added two goals and three dimes. Ross Sattler was credited with 10 saves for the defending MCLA Division II champions.
Scott Murphy accounted for two of Southern Oregon’s (13-3) three goals. Raiders’ senior goalie Connor Kelley was spectacular in the loss, turning away 26 shots, setting the new D-II tournament record for saves in a game..
Concordia Shakes Montana State
Three players scored at least three goals and Ronnie Fernando made 11 saves, helping No. 3 Concordia-Irvine (15-0) hold off No. 14 Montana State (15-1), 15-12, in a battle of unbeaten programs. The victory sends the Eagles into the second round where they face the winner of the Missouri Valley-Grand Valley State contest.
Junior attackman Max Satossky led the Concordia attack with four goals while freshman attackman Brandon Mayo and junior middie Marcus Hughes chipped in with a hat trick apiece. The Eagles faceoff unit won 21-of-24 draws to help the cause.
Montana State senior goalie Parker Fairey was superb in the loss, turning away 22 shots. The Bobcats offense was led by freshman attackman Louis Richman who had two goals and five assists.
Tommies Explodes After Slow Start
Top-seeded St. Thomas (15-0) found themselves trailing No. 16 Brigewater State (10-5) at the start of the game, sparking talk of perhaps the biggest upset in the history of the MCLA Division II National Championships. That talk was quickly calmed.
The Tommies scored 16 of the 19 goals to roll to a 19-7 victory over the Bears, advancing to the quarterfinals where they’ll meet the winner of the Lourdes-Minn.-Duluth contest.