FINAL SCORE (OT): Vermont 13, Mercer 12
MACON, Ga. – Matt Gudas broke a 12-12 tie with 2:28 remaining in overtime as the Vermont men’s lacrosse team rallied from five down for the second consecutive game, securing a 13-12 win over Mercer at Five Star Stadium on Saturday.
Vermont improves to 2-0 on the season, while Mercer is 0-1 following its season opener.
Time in goal for the Catamounts was split between Jon Kaplan (5 saves) and Nick Washuta (6 saves), the latter of whom received the win. Mercer’s Brady Hodoval was hooked with the loss despite 11 saves.
Cam Milligan and Alex Stanko each paced the Catamounts with three goals apiece, while Ben Cox added a game-high seven groundballs. Freshman Charlie Erdmann was 6-for-14 on faceoffs.
Mercer used a four-goal run right off the bat to jump out to an early first quarter lead. Scott Baird put the Bears on the board just 49 seconds into the game and was later followed up by Jake Nelson and Lucas Wittenberg (2). The Catamounts responded with Milligan’s fifth tally and a man-up goal from Ben French before Shawn Carter closed the quarter with another for Mercer, moving the score to 5-2.
After the teams exchanged a pair in the second period, the Bears’ Will McCarthy sent the teams into the halftime break with an 8-4 margin in favor of Mercer.
Washuta relieved Kaplan to start the third quarter.
UVM rallied to get within two midway through the third. Alex Stanko and Kevin Yoggy exchanged goals, then Milligan and Warren Jeffrey found the back of the cage for the Green and Gold, narrowing the deficit to 9-7. Carter then converted an EMO for Mercer inside the final minute of the third to swell his team’s lead back to three at 10-7.
Mercer went ahead 11-7 to begin the final 15 minutes of regulation, but the Catamounts refused to pack it in. Dawes Milchling and Rob Hudson registered man-up goals just over two minutes apart and, in the aftermath of Yoggy’s goal for Mercer with under seven minutes left, Vermont countered with three straight to even the score at 12. Alex Stanko netted two in 37 seconds, then French found the game-tying goal with 2:18 left.
Hudson logged a shot on goal in the waning seconds of regulation but the attempt would not go. Wittenberg did the same for the Bears, quickly being denied by Washuta.
Gudas’ game-winner was the culmination of a sequence that began with Hudson. Gudas was turned aside by Hodoval with under 3:30 left, and on the ensuing clear attempt, Hudson forced Wittenberg to cough up the ball. On the play that ensued, the ball ended up with Milligan who fed Gudas for the final goal of the afternoon.
The Catamounts finished the afternoon with a 24-23 edge in shots on goal and were 23-for-28 on clears (82.1 percent). Mercer went 8-for-10 (80 percent) on clears.
UVM now will return to the Green Mountain State and enjoy two full weeks to prepare for its home opener against Holy Cross. That game is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 18 at 1 p.m. from Virtue Field.