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Saturday, May 3, 2008

Friar Briefs

The annual final exams tempest –led by Hurricane Civ.- is taking over and limiting the time for Free Press activity. However, below are some of the hottest points of PC interest as we plunge into the academic and spring athletic stretch drive.

· A sliver of ill karma took its sweet time coming to fruition Friday when men’s lacrosse middie Chris Hanlon was nabbed for illegal equipment and sentenced to a three-minute penalty to start the second quarter, at which point the Friars led Virginia Military Institute, 3-1. The only other time PC has dealt with such an agonizing infraction this season was at the same point of an eventual 7-5 loss to Marist –their lone regular season shortcoming in conference play this season. That afternoon, they readily spilled an unsteady 1-0 en route to defeat.

This time around, the top-seeded Friars gutted out the 3-minute man-down kill and sculpted a 5-3 edge at the half, augmenting that to 7-3 by the 1:58 mark of the third quarter. But the Keydets perked right up, hustling ahead 8-7 and shaking off Devin McBride’s late equalizer to stamp a 9-8 overtime win in the MAAC semi-final at Siena College.

Hill –the league’s Offensive Player of the Year- inserted his sixth goal of the game a mere thirty ticks into the bonus round.

The semi-final setback cut off PC’s hopes for a MAAC threepeat and has virtually zapped their hopes for an NCAA passport. VMI, meantime, will lock their poles with those of Canisius in both schools’ first MAAC title game appearance.

· PC softball passed up any hope of climbing higher than #8 in the Big East playoff pool through a set of losses to South Florida, 5-4 and 5-1, at Raymond Field Saturday. At 8-12 and with only a Sunday doubleheader against Louisville (12-8) yet to take care of, the Friars can no longer pester the 6th-seeded Pittsburgh –which pulled out one of two from Notre Dame- and Syracuse, both 11-9 heading into their regular season finales.

In Game 1, Danielle Bertollette logged her twelfth complete game of the season, despite authorizing an immediate 5-0 Bulls lead on six hits within the first three innings. PC lashed out two runs apiece in their halves of the third and fourth innings and unseated starter Courtney Mosch after a mere 3.2 innings pitched. But they afforded no further hits (game total 7) in the final three innings.

Top bat Mary Rose Sheehy’s no-out, first inning single forged an early 1-1 knot in Game 2, but the Friars proceeded to leave the bases loaded and took another three-inning snooze while the Bulls sprinkled four runs on six hits at the expense of Jen Maccio and Kathryn Sullivan –who took the ball with two down in the fourth. PC abandoned two more prospective scorers in both the fifth and sixth and rolled over 1-2-3 in the seventh.

At least one USF win at Connecticut and one loss for second-place DePaul at Pittsburgh would kiln a Bulls-Friars rematch in next Thursday’s quarter-final round at Louisville’s Ulmer Stadium. Otherwise, PC will tangle with the Blue Demons, to whom they submitted 8-0 and 2-1 drawbacks out in Chicagoland last Sunday.

· How’s this for no-nonsense? Former Friars and Bruins bouncer Hal Gill pitched his mitts to get sideways with Rangers pest Sean Avery, who was getting characteristically pushy with goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury. All this even though the final horn had already cemented the Penguins Game 2 triumph last Sunday.

Rather coincidentally, Gill was profiled on nhl.com in an article posted Thursday, discussing the statistically cloaked impact he has made on Pittsurgh’s playoff run since his trade from Toronto at the February deadline. (It should perhaps also be noted that Avery has since been hospitalized and ruled out of action for the remainder of the playoffs due to a lacerated spleen sustained in Game 3).

Over on the Western front, PC grad Ron Wilson’s San Jose pupils have mustered back-to-back wins to wrinkle the Dallas Stars 3-0 series lead. Gill’s Penguins will take their second hack at shutting down the Rangers in Game 5 on NBC Sunday afternoon before the Sharks try to force a rubber game in Dallas on Versus.

· Just how New Englandized has the newest men’s basketball coach Keno Davis become since his April 15 introduction? He can now be heard delivering station identification messages during Red Sox broadcasts on 103.7 WEEI-FM. That same network is primed to chronicle the beginning of the Keno Cagers’ endeavors in November.