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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Lacrosse Log

Bryan nailing his post

How much hardware can’t be wrong?

For Providence College goalkeeper Robert Bryan, recipient of the MAAC Defensive Player of the Week distinction thrice in the last five installments, a steady flurry of fun-size honor marks nothing less than a smooth straw-to-gold spinning project.

In his first season as the Friars’ chief cage custodian –coming into his junior year with a slim aggregate six games worth of experience- Bryan has exponentially established himself as a cornerstone in the team’s 5-0 league record, culminating most recently in Saturday’s 5-4 stumping of St. Joseph’s. The Hawks heaved a grand total of 28 attempted shots, getting 17 of them within Bryan’s reach.

Only the regal likes of North Carolina –familiar enough for an offspring of Apex, N.C.- have given Bryan a heavier sweat this year (20 shots in an 8-6 Tar Heel victory March 12). Right at the start of the season, Fairfield and Air Force both matched St. Joe’s 17 stockpile, putting a combined 15 of those shots through.

But, comfortably removed from the Cyclopean inter-conference portion of the season, Bryan answered the St. Joseph’s onslaught with a career best 13 saves, warding off the Hawks rally and preserving a 5-4 Friar victory.

Since delving into the MAAC slate,
Bryan has only been given regular start-to-finish duty over the last three games. Each time, he has been needed in the peak stages, and each time he has accepted charge.

The quad-OT triumph of Siena three weeks back –wherein he answered three out of 14 total stabs in the bonus rounds- speaks for itself. And in the more recent wins over Mt. St. Mary’s and St. Joseph’s, Bryan’s mates have initially sculpted gratifying leads, but spilled some or all of it in the second half.

In the former case, the Friars churned their way to a 10-2 gap in the first 45 minutes, heavily outshooting the Mountaineers the way through, but tapered off in the closing quarter enough to authorize a 7-5 attempt difference in favor of their guests. In last week’s Philly venture, St. Joseph’s zapped a 3-0 deficit on the game’s only EMO conversion at 6:31 of the third quarter and later snuck back to within 5-4 after the Friars had perked back up.

Marist looking meeker

Whereas the Friars could make one of their swiftest claims to a playoff berth with a win at Marist Wednesday, the last place Red Foxes (0-4 MAAC, 0-12 overall) are amidst a dank U-turn from their former winning ways.

A year ago, Marist matched PC’s 5-3 transcript on the MAAC leaderboard, barely missing out on postseason activity. That spoiled any hopes of a tournament threematch after the Friars had snatched an 11-10 OT decision in the 2006 semi-finals, avenging Marist’s 9-5 throttling in the same round in 2005 en route to the conference crown.

Yet the 2008 Foxes, despite having discharged a mere five seniors last summer after granting best wishes to another four in 2006, have tumbled to the 55th out of 57 slots in the Laxpower rankings and lost six games by a four-goal deficit or worse.

Ground Balls: Quirkily enough, one of Marist’s better registered performances was a 9-8 home falter against St. Joseph’s that took four overtimes to decide. That was back on March 22, one week prior to the PC-Siena classic…The 2008 Red Foxes and Friars also have the commonality of having hacked and whiffed at the mighty Tar Heel. Marist’s most decisive lashing this year was a 12-3 final at the hands of UNC a week after the Tar Heels paid their visit to Friartown…Of the current Friars, graduate attacker Bennett Murphy has a leading 5 points (3 goals, 2 helpers) all time versus Marist. In the way of goals, Devin McBride has garnered a team-leading four…Wednesday’s Marist visit will be underway at 3:00…PC returns home Saturday for a visit to cross-town rival Brown, their last non-conference obligation of the regular season. Face-off for Divine City dance is slated for 7:00.

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