The Three Bears have career days as Potsdam wins 11-8 in hard-fought game over Utica
Three different players had a career day for the SUNY Potsdam men's lacrosse team as the Bears raised the bar in a hard fought 11-8 victory against Utica College on Maxcy Turf Field Thursday under cold conditions where temperatures hovered around the freezing mark throughout the game.
If the chilly weather bothered the Bears, they certainly did not seem fazed by it.
Senior attacker Rob Kunz (Watertown, N.Y. / Immaculate Heart) was at the forefront as the tri-captain pumped in a career-best five goals with two goals in the first quarter, two more in the second and another in the fourth.
His last strike came with 1:20 left in the game to give Potsdam (4-2) a three-goal cushion that essentially thwarted off any last chance hope for the Pioneers (4-3).
Kunz's previous high was four goals against Clarkson University back on April 4, 2012.
"I'm really excited that happened for me, but this was more of a team win," Kunz said.
"With two-a-days including an early morning shoot around and another practice in the afternoon, I think that has really paid off. Coach [Berkman] has been stressing making smart plays, shooting overhand, and changing the plane of your shot. I can't say enough about our defense. Duffy has been phenomenal in goal and Pat hit some important goals for us. Winning as a team, I think we are heading into SUNYACs with the right mind set."
Sophomore midfielder Pat Bonafede (Churchville, N.Y. / Churchville-Chili) and senior goalie Ryan Duffy (Liverpool, N.Y. / Liverpool) also recorded career days for the Bears. Bonafede had a career-high three goals and one assist while Duffy made a career-best 17 saves including five significant ones in the last quarter.
Kunz opened the scoring by receiving a pass from sophomore Matt Kennedy (Clay, N.Y. / CNS) at 7:56 in the first quarter. Sophomore attacker Ed Doherty (Amherst, N.Y. / Amherst) followed with a score on a feed from Bonafede. Then, Potsdam pushed the lead to 3-0 when Kunz slung a shot from 10 yards away from the near side at 1:10 left in the first. Jon Woodworth had the assist.
Utica was held without a goal until 9:07 in the second quarter when sophomore Trent Jacobs got the Pioneers on the board. Less than a minute later, junior Zack Stevenson rifled a shot into the net to cut the lead to 3-2.
The Bears struck back when freshman attacker Matt Moran (Watertown, N.Y. / IHC) carried the ball around the back end of the cage and came around to the front and fired an unassisted goal to make it a 4-2.
Jacobs added his second goal of the game to bring Utica back to within one.
But that's when the Bears bite right back.
A pivotal moment came when the Pioneers were penalized for an illegal stick with 1:53 remaining in the half.
It proved costly for Utica as Potsdam seized the opportunity by making good on their man up advantage twice. First, Kunz notched his third goal from Doherty and then Bonafede added another on a feed from Doherty just 33 seconds apart.
The flurry continued when Kunz scored again with 10 seconds left in the period to give Potsdam a 7-3 lead heading into halftime.
Utica chipped away at the lead and got it to 7-5 by the end of the third quarter after Corey Thompson shot it behind his back for a goal and Joe Schoen found the net unassisted.
After Kennedy scored for Potsdam to begin the fourth, Bonafede and Pioneers freshman Ross Cree traded goals to make it 10-7. Senior defenseman Josh Torrey's goal put some pressure back on Potsdam by cutting the deficit to two with 7:09 to play. But Kunz finished out the scoring to help solidify the victory.
This marks the fourth consecutive win for Potsdam against Utica College. Potsdam leads the all-time series 4-2.
Potsdam will open SUNYAC play with a home contest against No. 9 ranked SUNY Cortland on Saturday at 1 p.m.