BYU Pulls it together in Second Half to Beat New Hampshire

Mykel Severson - Utah Lacrosse News 

As has been the case this season, BYU came out hot making a bold statement in the early minutes of their game against University of New Hampshire only to fade in intensity and execution in the second quarter. The Cougars regrouped with huge third and fourth quarter efforts sealing an impressive victory against the Wildcats, 16 to 9.

The first quarter started with a Cougar win in the draw and a quick shot that was wide. UNH took the ball the other way, and shot, but was handily turned away by BYU goalie Matt Brandenburg. BYU defender Boston Handley forced a turnover, ran down field and passed it to Cougar midfielder Connor Williams who took a shot surprising UHN and giving the Cougs their first goal. The Wildcats’ Craig Ward grabbed the next face, but Brandenburg reeled in a deflected shot returning the ball to Cougar offense. BYU set up its offense with middies Josh Tunick and Chase Miller passing to Fabrizio who assisted Chris Severson with goal number two. There was ferocious draw that followed, but the Cougs’ middie Jordan Higgs eventually gained control. BYU notched its third goal at the hand of Andrew Bertha with an assist from Severson. Momentum was definitely with BYU, but UNH settled in and their goalie, Matt Markowitz, made a great save. The Wildcats cleared easily catching BYU’s defense napping.

UNH attackman John Brown put the ball in the net assisted by Brendan Maloney. BYU turned the ball over on their next possession, and got burned by Taylor Maniatty as he scored with the assist of Matt French. The Cougars tried to get back in gear with the next face, but their shots were ineffective. UNH took it the other way and their sick stick skills proved effective as they tied the game with a goal from Andrew Eriksen assisted by Anthony Gallo. After a Wildcat win in the draw, they were de-sticked, and Andrew Bertha made them pay, scoring in the final minutes of the quarter low between the goalie’s legs. BYU ended the quarter drawing a foul and leading 4 to 3.

BYU started the second quarter in extra-man offense and Jayden Haws scored easily assisted by Fabrizio. UNH went to work taking the next draw, but Cougar defenders Spencer Simpson, Quentin Willey and Harrison Wardle didn’t relent. The next several minutes were defined by Wildcat defenders Zack Myers, Daniel Gluck, Matt French and John Ahonen stealing or causing turnovers followed by BYU defenders giving as good as they got. UNH called a timeout, drew up a play, and executed perfectly with Nate Seed scoring easily assisted by Markham, bringing them within one. The momentum was swinging Wildcat way spurred by excellent keeper work from Markowitz. Brandenburg was also forced to fend off several shots eventually recovering the ball. The Cougars took a timeout with 3:35, but their designed play proved futile. Instead, Wildcat middie Gallo sprinted on transition sneaking in and tying the game. With less than two minutes in the half, the Wildcats took their first lead on a goal from Maloney assisted by their giant attackman, Sam Stanton. The half ended with UNH in the lead 6 to 5.

BYU secured the first draw of the second half, but Markowitz saved the shot. UNH took the ball the other way, settled into offense and Neil Murphy ran from behind X around the right side, turning and scoring under Brandenburg to give the Wildcats a two-goal lead. That’s when the Cougars said “no more!” BYU’s face-off specialist, Jack Vassau, grabbed the draw giving the ball to offense. Fabrizio wound around X, dodged, faked and dove scoring low unassisted. Vassua secured the next draw, and Cougar attackman Winston Farley duplicated Fabrizio’s goal with a dodge, fake and score knotting the game at 7. BYU was on a roll fighting hard for another draw, but a crease violation gave the ball back to UNH. Brandenburg made two brilliant saves and the Cougars cleared. Farley found the back of the net again assisted by Zach Labrum giving the Cougs back the lead and drawing another Wildcat penalty. Fabrizio scored on the man-up sneaking from X around the left crease, and scoring under the goalie on a dive. UNH did not throw in the towel and won the next draw. Maloney put his team on his back with his amazing stick skills, dodging and scoring to tie the game again. Brandenburg made a save on the next Wildcat shot, and the frustration of UNH defense gave the Cougars another non-releasable extra-man opportunity. BYU middie Chase Miller put the Cougs up again unassisted. Still man-up, Vassau easily grabbed the draw, and Cougar midfielder Tanner Johnson got in on the fun assisted by Haws. The Wildcats pulled back within two with a face-off win and a quick transition goal from Eriksen assisted by Stanton. The third quarter wound down with more stellar defensive work, and saves from Brandenburg and Markowitz. The Cougs took a two-goal lead into the fourth, 11-9.

The fourth quarter started much like the third ended with both goalies stuffing opponent attackmen on the doorstep. But that’s when the wheels came off for the Wildcats. They committed a foul, unnecessary roughness, which was followed by the same from a Cougar igniting a firestorm that resulted in two more Wildcat unsportsmanlike penalties. BYU was penalized one player down for one minute, but UNH received three two-minute, non-releasable penalties. The Cougars made the most of their gift. Vassau easily secured the face-off with no resistance from UNH, and Severson scored assisted by Farley. After the next face, Johnson scored from the right, unassisted. The Wildcats managed a take-away after the next draw, and tried to burn the remaining penalty time, but the Cougs recovered and Bobby Meinhold scored assisted by Farley. Once the penalties expired, UNH tried to mount a comeback. Brandenburg, infused with confidence, turned away three close-range shots. He cleared to Cougar long stick middie, Max Neser, who passed to Severson, and he scored the final goal of the game giving the Cougars a 16-9 win.

University of New Hampshire was its own worst enemy in this game. Their stick skills and passing were impressive, and Markowitz had several incredible saves, but they let their tempers get the best of them. The Cougars played consistent defense and kept their cool, outscoring UNH 11 to 3 in the second half. BYU spread the offensive opportunities around with nine different players scoring, took advantage of their man-up opportunities, and tightened up on defense when the Wildcats had the momentum.

Coach Schneck commented, “The entire third and fourth quarters were fantastic for us.” He continued, “Hats off the UNH. They had a great week here and we knew they’d be tough. I’m happy we were able to pull it out”.
BYU will face the defending champs, Grand Canyon University, on Friday, March 25th at 7:00 pm. University of New Hampshire heads home to face State University of NY-Buffalo the same day.