MANCHESTER, N.H. – In Wednesday's battle of nationally-ranked squads, the No. 20 Saint Anselm College men's lacrosse team recorded a 12-7 victory over visiting (and ninth-ranked) Pace University at Grappone Stadium.
Saint Anselm, the 20th-ranked team in NCAA Division II according to the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association, improves to 5-3 overall and to 4-3 in the highly-competitive Northeast-10 Conference. Pace, the ninth-ranked team in the country, falls to 5-4 (4-3 NE10) with Wednesday's result.
Wednesday's win snapped a five-game losing skid to the Setters and was the Hawks' first over a top-10 opponent since Feb. 27, 2012, a 6-5 win over NYIT on the road. Pace, ranked fifth in NCAA Division II at the time, edged Saint Anselm in overtime to eliminate the Hawks from the NE10 postseason last year.
Freshman Matt Ward registered a career-high five points, notching four goals and an assist (4-1=5). Junior Anthony Busconi registered three goals and three assists, leading the team in overall point scoring (3-3=6) and senior Ryan Hesseltine matched junior Patrick Sweeney with two goals apiece.
Hesseltine set a career-high mark with 22 points this season, notching 11 goals and as many assists (11-11=22). His previous single-season record was 15 goals and six assists for 21 points (15-6=21) one year ago. He has also picked up three man-up goals on the year along with 16 ground balls.
Saint Anselm racked up a 5-0 lead and held it until the final four minutes of the first half – Pace's Wyatt Barefoot snapped the visitor's scoreless streak with his fifth goal of the season to close the opening 30 minutes with the Hawks holding a commanding 5-1 lead.
Pace potted three of the first four goals of the second half, cutting the Hawks lead to 6-4, but Hesseltine potted back-to-back goals to add to his team's advantage. Ward and Busconi added two goals apiece down the stretch, maintaining the Hawks win in the final 15-plus minutes of game play.
Junior Nick Richard made several key stops for Saint Anselm in goal, making a career-high 13 saves on 20 shots against. Robert Beshlian, one of the top goaltenders in NCAA Division II, drew the loss despite matching Richard with 13 saves – he allowed 12 goals on 25 total shots.
The Hawks outshot Pace by a 46-to-37 margin but the Setters won the ground battle, picking up 26 of the game's 47 ground balls. Pace also held the narrow edge in face-off victories, 11-to-10.
Saint Anselm welcomes Bentley to Manchester, N.H. this Saturday, Apr. 14 in an 11 a.m. contest on Senior Day.