Catamount Comeback Effort Falls Short in America East Championship Game

FINAL SCORE: No. 4 Hartford 17, No. 3 Vermont 16

The Hartford Hawks held off a Vermont Catamount fourth quarter comeback bid to post a 17-16 win in the America East Men’s Lacrosse Championship at Tom & Mary Casey Stadium on the campus of the University at Albany. It’s the Hawks first championship since 2011.

Hartford scored three of the first four goals in the fourth quarter to open up a 16-12 advantage on the Catamounts, its largest lead of the game. Cam Stafford‘s 24th goal of the season at the 8:46 mark of the final quarter gave UVM some momentum in the closing minutes, cutting the lead to three. Griffin Feiner answered, scoring off an assist from Jaedon Henderson, to push Hartford’s lead back to four with 8:21 showing on the clock.

The Catamounts answered. Cam Milligan and James Barlow converted feeds from James Barlow to bring Vermont back within two with 7:37 remaining. Nick Bartlett‘s goal with 51 seconds remaining sliced the lead to one, 17-16, but that was as close as Vermont could get the rest of the way.

Dylan Protesto won the faceoff after Bartlett’s goal and Hartford was able to run out the clock to secure the victory.

Vermont and Hartford traded goals throughout the first quarter of play. A goal by Hartford’s Trevor O’Brien cut UVM’s lead to one, 4-3 at the 5:19 mark. The Catamounts answered with back-to-back goals from Ian MacKay and Milligan to open up a three-goal advantage, 6-3, with 2:29 left in the period.

Hartford cut the lead to two on a goal by Zack Elkinson, but UVM answered back at the 1:35 mark. Barlow converted an assist from Michael Clarke to close out the scoring in the quarter and give UVM a 7-4 lead after one period of play.

Milligan opened the scoring in the second quarter to push Vermont’s advantage to four, 8-4, but the Hawks rattled off six straight goals, including a pair by Alec Brown, to pull out to a 10-8 lead at the end of the half.

Doug Biondi’s extra-man goal with 3:47 left in the quarter pushed Hartford in front for the first time and Brown’s second goal of the period at the 2:10 mark extended the Hawks’ lead to two. The Hawks offensive outburst was bolstered by five wins by Protesto at the faceoff X.

Barlow, Stafford and Milligan finished the game with hat tricks, while Matt Gudas added three assists to lead Vermont.

Dylan Jinks, Brown, Justin Huggins and Trevor O’Brien paced the Hawks attack with three goals each.

Hartford moves to 11-7 and earns an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. The NCAA selection show is set for 9 p.m. on Sunday (May 8) on ESPN.

Vermont (9-8) closes the season having posted the most wins (9) since 2006 and the most wins under head coach Ryan Curtis. The Catamounts earned their first America East Tournament win with the upset victory over Stony Brook in the semifinal round and advanced to the championship game for the first time in program history.

NOTES: Vermont was represented on the all-tournament team by Cam Stafford, Cam Milligan and Ian MacKay … MacKay extended his point streak to 46 straight games, registering a point in every game of his career.