LYNDHURST, N.J. – The Felician University men's lacrosse team entered Tuesday night by recognizing the season and athletics career of senior midfielder John Burns (Saddle Brook, N.J./Saddle Brook).
By the end of the evening, the Golden Falcons were celebrating so much more.
Burns, a four-year Golden Falcon soccer goalkeeper who joined the lacrosse squad for its inaugural season, was honored in a pre-game Senior Night ceremony. Felician then jumped out to a 5-0 first quarter lead and hung on for a 9-7 Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference victory over visiting Post University at the Lyndhurst Recreation Complex. The win was the first in the history of Felician's program.
Freshman attack Patrick McAndrew (Newton, N.J./Morris Hills) led the Golden Falcons (1-10, 1-3) with four points on one goal and three assists. Classmate James D'Albora (Staten Island, N.Y./Monsignor Farrell), who had missed his team's previous three games due to injury, registered two goals, one assist, and a Felician-best four ground balls. Senior Kyle Hewitt (Bridgeport, Conn./Dean College) came off the bench to pace Post (2-10, 2-2) with three goals and one assist.
Felician set the tone when McAndrew scored an unassisted goal exactly one minute into play. The Golden Falcons have scored first in three of their 10 losses this season, including the last two, but this time they kept attacking. Scores by Daniel Wright (Port Jefferson Station, N.Y./Comsewogue) and Anthony Major II (Staten Island, N.Y./Curtis) gave the hosts a three-goal lead for the first time ever, and by period's end, the Golden Falcons led, 5-0.
The Eagles nearly flipped the script in the second quarter. Post found the net three times in the period's first 3:36, and Hewlett's second of the game with 4:44 to play until halftime pulled the visitors to within 5-4. Defensive play dominated the balance of the period, and Felician entered the break with the one-goal lead intact.
The Golden Falcons' offensive drought continued into the third quarter, and in the period's middle stages, the Eagles tied the score when Hewett assisted on Frank Nichols Jr.'s (Carlsbad, Calif./El Camino) 14th of the season. But the combination of McAndrew and Mike Guaragno (Montgomery, N.Y./Valley Central) saw to it that Post never took the lead. Guaragno beat Eagle goalkeeper Manuele D'Alessio (Mount Laurel, N.J./Lenape) twice in 62 seconds, both off of feeds from McAndrew, to allow Felician to exit the third ahead 7-5.
The fourth-quarter breathing room proved important. When a Felician unsportsmanlike penalty led to a Hewlett man-up goal with 9:13 to play, the young Golden Falcons were still able to play with a lead. McAndrew found Anthony Hanratty (Hewitt, N.J./West Milford) at 4:48 to make it 8-6, but the Eagles answered in just seven seconds when Nichols collected the winning face-off from Jon Hanlon (Centereach, N.Y./Centereach) and was not stopped en route to the goal.
As the game clock approached three minutes, Post's efforts at the equalizer were hampered when it was called for a one-minute slashing penalty. It took D'Albora 22 seconds to score with the man advantage, and the Golden Falcons successfully ran out the final 2:47.
The win was the first NCAA victory for Felician head coach Brendan Bonacum, and the first in the left column for Golden Falcon freshman goalie Pat Hemmer (Staten Island, N.Y./Monsignor Farrell). Hemmer faced 29 shots and was credited with 11 saves.
The Golden Falcons survived winning only five of the game's 20 face-offs. Eagle freshman Miles Savage (Highland Lakes, N.J./Vernon Township) picked up six ground balls and was 12 of 15 in the face-off circle. D'Alessio stopped five shots.
Felician concludes its regular-season schedule by traveling to Hillburn, N.Y, for a 7:30 match-up with Dominican (N.Y.) College, Bonacum's alma mater, on Saturday. The Golden Falcons' playoff chances are unclear.