On the day the Tompkins Cortland Community College lacrosse team returned to the national top ten, the Panthers used a run of six straight goals in the third quarter to rally for a lead, and then held on for a 12-11 win over a spirited Mercyhurst North East team. The Panthers, ranked #10 in the nation in this week's NJCAA poll, are now 8-2 overall and 7-2 in Region III while the Saints drops to 5-6 overall and 3-5 in regional play.
The two teams traded goals in the first quarter, with Mercyhurst scoring and the Panthers answering twice before the first horn sounded with the game tied at 2-2. The Saints opened a 4-2 lead in the closing minutes of the second quarter, but Jacob Lewis (Dryden/Dryden H.S.) found the net with 2:22 left before half to cut the deficit to 3-2. The Saints answered with a goal with just over a minute left, but Derek Sammartino (Saddle Brook, N.J./Pascack Hills H.S.) pulled it back to a one-goal game with a score with 5.9 seconds left on the clock.
The deficit grew to 6-4 when the Saints scored just 59 seconds in the third quarter, but the Panthers were about to go on a run that would completely change the game. With 7:51 left in the third, Jack Collmer (Vernon/Vernon-Verona-Sherrill) scored his second goal of the game, and just 30 seconds later, he found the net again to even the score at 6-6. Less than a minute later, Anthony Irizarry (Middletown/Middletown H.S.) gave Tompkins Cortland its first lead of the game, beating the keeper for his second goal of the game. Defenseman Bridger Carreau (Marietta, Ga./Lassiter H.S.) got into the scoring column with a rocket short with 4:41 left, and just seven seconds later Collmer scored again to make it 9-6. Irizarry capped the big quarter with a one-handed goal with 5.4 seconds left, giving the Panthers six straight goals and a 10-6 lead heading into the final quarter.
The comfortable lead that the Panthers enjoyed to start the fourth started to fade as the Saints scored the first two goals to make the score 10-8. Irizarry pushed the cushion back to three with a goal with 4:44 left, but the Saints answered seconds later to make it 11-9. Irizarry seemed to put the game away with his fifth goal of the game, making the score 12-9 with 1:55 left, but Mercyhurst scored twice in the next 23 seconds to make it 12-11. With the game on the line, the Panthers' defense stiffened up, forcing the Saints into a violation that gave the home team the ball to run out the final seconds.
Irizarry finished the game with six points on five goals and one assist. The assist gives him 24 for the season, tying the school record set in 1977 by Panthers Hall of Famer Larry Siany. Collmer had five points on four goals and an assist and Lewis had two points on a goal and an assist. Sammartino and Carreau each finished with a goal and Erik Dickerson (Pine Bush/John S. Burke Catholic H.S.) had an assist. Bryan Iannello (Dryden/Dryden H.S.) earned the win in goal with seven saves.
The Panthers close out the regular season Thursday at home against #3-ranked Genesee Community College.