The Goucher men's lacrosse team has usually relied on Rory Averett to score goals and Connor Mishaw to prevent them.
That formula again proved effective in Wednesday afternoon's NCAA Division III tournament first-round game at Washington College. The Gophers got four goals from Averett and 15 saves from Mishaw to outlast the Shoremen, 5-4, before an announced 850 at Roy Kirby Jr. Stadium.
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Goucher, ranked 10th in the latest United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association poll, improved to 18-1, extended its winning streak to 15 and will meet No. 1 seed Salisbury (19-0) in Saturday's second round. The Shoremen, ranked 18th, dropped to 11-6 and lost for the fourth time in their past seven contests.
Senior attackman Kyle Boncaro's goal off a feed from senior midfielder Matt Lynch broke a tie at 4 with 7:45 left in the fourth quarter; until then, much of the Gophers' production had been built on the stick of Averett and the stick, foot and chest of Mishaw.
Averett, a senior attackman, gave Goucher a 1-0 lead 2:08 into the first quarter. After freshman faceoff specialist Michael Trapp tied the score just nine seconds later, Averett notched an extra-man goal with 5:01 remaining in the period and an even-strength goal 32 seconds into the second quarter.
Sophomore short-stick defensive midfielder Kodie Englehart trimmed the deficit in half, scoring in transition with 5:48 left in the second quarter, but Averett restored Goucher's two-goal advantage with another man-up goal with 8:24 remaining in the third period.
"We have a game plan, and when we run our offense I just happened to get some open looks, and they fell today," said Averett, whose 52 goals rank second on the team to Boncaro's 55. "Sometimes they don't and sometimes they do. Today was a shooter's day."
While Averett was working wonders on the offensive end of the field, Mishaw was the stalwart on defense. His stops included blocking a pair of point-blank attempts by junior attackman Matt Lewis in the second quarter, using his body to turn aside junior attackman Bennett Cord after he had split two Gophers defenders in the third quarter, and foiling Cord on a curl around the left post.
But Mishaw's best save occurred with a little more than a minute left when he stopped a low shot by senior attackman Dominic Serio on the right side of the crease.
Mishaw credited his defense with giving him easy looks, saying: "They were pushing them down and not giving them much of an angle on me. There really wasn't much I had to do. Just stand there and match sticks, which made it a lot easier for me."
Trapp led Washington with a pair of goals and won nine of 12 faceoffs, but the Shoremen's offense was stifled. Serio was the only attackman to score a goal, and Cord — who led the team in goals (38), assists (21) and points (59) — was limited by Goucher junior defenseman Paul Taylor to a single assist.
"I think we looked slow," Washington coach Jeff Shirk said. "I think we kind of got things going from a legs standpoint after the first quarter, but to be honest — and I'm not putting it on the offense — this was probably our worst offensive performance that we've played to date. When you're got faceoff guys and D-middies scoring our goals, that's an issue. I think defensively we played pretty well. If I can pinpoint one thing, it's that we weren't putting the ball in the back of the net. You've got to give Goucher's goalie credit because he's one of the main reasons for that."