PONTIAC, Mich. – Even though it was not spoken, anyone in attendance at Monday's men's lacrosse game knew that both teams really wanted this win badly. The actions spoke volumes as both teams played a physical and intense game that came down to the final minutes. Adrian really wanted a little payback after losing at home in the NCAA Tournament to the Spartans a season ago. The Spartans were looking to avoid a two-game losing streak having lost to Albion on Saturday.
The first quarter was very tight as neither team led by more than one goal until five seconds remaining. Ryan Findlay scored eight seconds into the game as A.J. Smith took the opening face-off and raced downfield providing the assist. The Bulldogs were penalty-riddled in the first quarter but allowed just one man-up goal as Max Obriecht tied the game with 13:08 left from Nolan Miller. Aurora took a brief 3-2 lead at the 6:44 mark and then Adrian scored a man-up goal as Adam Findlay netted the goal from Luke Bill. Adam Findlay later gave Adrian a 5-4 lead unassisted and Brett Maguire scored with five seconds left to extend the lead to 6-4 from Nick Karapas.
Adrian would score the first three goals of a relatively quiet second quarter to put themselves ahead 9-4. Matt Scherer and Mitch Burgin scored goals as Burgin scored man-up at the 10:33 mark and then scored on a gorgeous shot from behind the cage that no one expected at the 9:10 mark. Aurora used a timeout to talk over their defensive breakdowns and then scored the final goal of the quarter with 3:47 left on a man-up tally by Jordan Williams.
Adrian held a 9-5 halftime lead but the Spartans stormed out of the break and scored the first five goals of the third quarter to lead 10-9 with 3:07 left. Alex Gebben got it started at 10:30 unassisted and then Jason Koziol notched four straight goals including two man-up scores in a wild stretch. Adrian used a timeout to settle down the troops and it seemed to work as Doug Boyd scored with 1:19 left unassisted to tie it 10-10 heading into the fourth quarter.
Boyd gave Adrian an 11-10 lead again unassisted with 13:06 to play and Karapas followed with his first goal of the game at 12:15 from Bill. Aurora regrouped and scored the next two goals to tie it at 12-12. Garret Rosiek and Bailey Smith put things even again with 11:08 to play. Bill gave Adrian a 13-12 lead with a man-up goal and took a shot in the process knocking him to the ground after the score with 7:54 remaining. The penalties were mounting on the Bulldogs in the first three periods but the Spartans took the last four in the final 8:21 of game time.
Zach Henry tied the game at 13-13 with five minutes remaining and then Karapas scored the game-winner on a laser shot low from distance with 4:12 left. The Spartans' Grant James took a one-minute penalty with 2:53 left and Obriecht was whistled for 30 seconds just 42 seconds later putting them behind the eight-ball. Bill scored an insurance goal at the 2:53 mark as James penalty was called. The two-goal lead allowed Adrian to play keep away for most of the remainder of the game. Aurora called timeout with 40 seconds to go but a Jordan Williams shot was saved and the Bulldogs ran out the clock.
Karapas missed the first game of the season last Thursday versus Elmhurst but returned to record two fourth-quarter goals and one assist. Adam Findlay scored two goals on five shots on goal. Bill finished with two goals and three assists. Boyd registered three goals to lead the team on four shots on goal. Cody Schmitt and Scott Byrne each tallied a team-high four ground balls. Brett Farrelly made 11 saves including six in the fourth quarter to earn the win. Brian Richter also made 11 saves for Aurora in relief of Cameron Brooks who was pulled after Adrian's sixth goal in the first period. Adrian finished 3-for-8 in man-up opportunities while Aurora was 4-for-10.