Our boys left a hell of an impression during their first appearance at the 2016 Beltway Bash this past weekend. This three-day tournament, hosted by The University of Maryland, ended with the Profs driving away with a well-fought for 2nd-place finish.
This tournament surely caught the attention of the team, and got them onto the road for a two hour drive to College Park, Md. The team drove straight through Baltimore that Friday afternoon, and before they knew it, they arrived at College Park Hotel. This is where they would be staying for the duration of the tournament. After re-grouping and recuperating from the long drive through Maryland-area traffic, the team set their sights on the club sports field of the main UMD campus.
Their first game against Lynchburg College was priority even before they checked in. So, an hour-and-a-half later, the team made their way down the road to a very large turf field, enclosed in a black, chain fence. The team came onto the sunny field and took a few moments; observing their competition for the tournament. Some watched the DI tournament on one field, while others watched the DII tournament on the other. They chatted and chilled, before one of the games they were watching got done. Then, it was time to gear up for Lynchburg!
The grass around the turf field waved around as the wind picked up. The forecast called for a storm or two that weekend, with some notably strong gusts. The winds weren’t the only ripping force that day, as exemplified by a goal shot by middie, Alex Chalef, in the first five seconds of the game.
Chalef, a sophomore, set the tempo for the rest of the game. Although the first half of the game (the games of the tournament were halves instead of quarters) saw two goals against the Profs, the boys still got rolling to bring back the morale and the pace of their game. Those watching the defense saw a lot of smart moves by Rob Zybrick, with the senior getting turnovers and breaking his back for groundballs. There was also a lot of productive clearing in this game. Clears were especially fun to watch when Dwight Tucci was running the ball up the field. The senior’s endurance and stamina allowed him to plow right past Lynchburg’s middies.
On offense, the game was brought back to Rowan’s favor. Although the Fighting Hornets managed to score two more goals through the course of the game, the Profs had the lead. A total of four goals were scored by T.J. Mulderig. Other goals were scored by Ryan Miller, Matt Gorzynski, and Billy Van Dyke. The Profs finished the game with a 10-4 final score.
Later that night, a forfeit was called for the Profs’ 11pm-game against Lock Haven University. This put their record at 2-0 for the first day of the tournament. When the team found out, the boys used the extra free-time to just relax and enjoy their comfy hotel. The next game wasn’t until 3pm the next day. This gave the boys the opportunity to visit nearby Washington D.C. the next morning.
After some sight-seeing, Princeton was up next. The team was dealt a blow in the beginning with T.J. Mulderig going down with an ACL injury. The other middies were not at a disadvantage though. Mulderig was replaced for the time being with attack-man, Ryan Gallagher. This sophomore made use his long legs, running like an ostrich on the field. Billy Van Dyke also shined at midfield, and lead the team in goals for the game; scoring three. While normally placed at attack, Van Dyke’s tenacity showed when chasing down groundballs. He wasn’t the only middie to get scrappy in this game; senior, Alex Mulholland, remained aggressive as a crocodile on the X. Junior, Chris Deck and Ryan Miller also put in work, and proved to be a good combo. Miller scored twice.
A tough defense made moves on the Tigers as well. Sophomore, Eric Johnson, took a gnarly turnover before passing to Gallagher. At goal, Derek Hofmann, put some saves onto his resume. The freshman made some effective clears as well, one of which ended with a goal by Miller.
Tim Egan, Matt Gorzynski, and Donovan Moyer each contributed on attack. Egan, a senior, got physical and boxed-out the Tiger’s defense during a couple good bouts. Gorzynski scored two goals, and Moyer had one goal. Gallagher scored in the final minutes of the second half, with a quick goal that brought the game to a final score of 9-3 for the Profs.
The Profs were finally set for the semifinals. Just who it would be was unknown at the time. The other team for the midnight semifinal game would either be UMD’s club team, or George Mason University. The team took some time to put themselves together, and returned to the field later that night to see who they would be facing. The weather began to shift as they sat down and watched the UMD vs. GMU game. GMU was faring pretty well, but gameplay was quickly distracted when, in the middle of the game, the cherry trees around the field began to shake.
Everybody not playing sat and watched as a swarm of cherry blossom petals blew all around them. It was almost like a blizzard. The team sat through it all, and without any warning, the wind picked up and hit the field like a wind tunnel. The gale blew into a canopy, which broke while people tried to collapse the frame. Somehow, GMU and UMD were still going at it when the wind died down. It was nuts. A few moments later, it began to rain as well. This in turn, chased the Profs back into their vehicles, where they would be to watch the rest of the game. After the rain passed over (for now), the team watched as George Mason came out victorious in this game. The team was ready to gear up for their clash at midnight.
Yet, the game was cancelled and rescheduled for the following morning at 7:30am.
This meant that the Profs would be on a tighter schedule if they wanted to wake up in time for that. So, they made it back to the hotel and tried to get some sleep.
Waking up at 6am was abrupt and torturously cold. The team met up and got going out the door to the frigid temperatures of the lacrosse field. The wind was a sharp kind of cold, but George Mason was still there. There was still a game that Profs needed to win if they wanted to make it to the finals. The reality hit home when the refs called for a 30-minute game with running-time. That meant less time for mistakes.
So, GMU was a game with a super-quick pace. Patriots only managed to score three goals through the course of the game. Defensively, the team held down the fort and did well with returning possession. Long-stick middies, Ryan Fisher, Tom Case, and Mike Conroy, were opportunistic with loose groundballs, and were a big help during scrounges. Muholland worked well with Chris Deck in a couple good runs, one of which ended with Deck trucking on through the defense for a goal.
This game got a little rough at times, but the Profs were able to get the momentum going. The game ended with an 8-3 score for the Profs. Goals include two from Tim Egan and two from Miller, as well as goals from Gallagher, Gorzynski, and Van Dyke.
The Profs were done chilling out. Now was the time to turn up the heat!
This began when West Chester University won their end of their bracket, making them the Profs’ final game of the tournament. This would be an all-or-nothing game where the Profs knew the stakes. The team readied itself back at the hotel. They packed up for home, and headed toward the field. The sun was shining better than before, and the air was a tad bit warmer. The only thing to worry about that afternoon, was West Chester.
The Profs learned in the first half that West Chester would not be a cake-walk for offense, where the team struggled to place goals. West Chester’s defense was extremely tough to pierce through. Not only that, but the defense made it hard for any shooters to find enough room for a shot.
Early on, this game became very heavy on the Prof’s defense. The Profs certainly stood their ground. They soon resembled a group of rams fighting off a pack of wolves. Defenders, Zybrick, Liss, Tucci, and Johnson were constantly moving. Zybrick continued his expected effort on the crease, utilizing Tucci’s speed on the clear. This game also saw appearances by freshmen, Ian Rattigan and George Sayre. Defensive-middies were taking fire as well. Super-physical middies such as junior, Colin McIntire and senior, Dan Berger, worked hard to keep out West Chester’s offense on fast breaks.
West Chester’s offense was intimidating and brutal, scoring goal after goal after on keep, Brian Mahoney. Mahoney put up an awesome fight as well, and the junior did everything he could during his time in goal. Unfortunately, the Golden Rams were able to score several goals by the end of the second half. From the other side of the fence, the team heard a yelling voice from TJ Mulderig. Standing injured, Mulderig yelled out to the offense to keep them moving.
If there was any hope in this game, it was through a goal made by Alex Chalef, which kept the game from being a complete shut-out. The boys fought exceptionally hard and made it apparent. It showed when they had to get scrappy for groundballs. It showed when they had to drive headlong into West Chester’s defense. It showed when the crease got hairy and the team had to match the pace. Altogether, the team showed their nerve.
Once the final whistle blew, the Golden Rams carried home the trophy. With a 7-1 final score over the Profs, The tournament was over. The boys had to pick themselves up to return back home.
They were proud of themselves for coming down to the Bash in the first place. This was their first appearance in the tournament. They knew that going into the final game of the tournament was amazing in itself. The whole weekend was also geared toward bonding with each other. The Beltway Bash was surely a stepping stone, but the memories made and the comraderie felt, were like a leap and a bound.
What a weekend!