Upset bid falls short in 3rd OT against #11 Denision

HAVERFORD, Pa. – A second-half rally erased a four-goal deficit and Haverford College's men's lacrosse team took No. 11 Denison University into a third overtime, but the visiting Big Red finally derailed the Fords' upset bid in taking a thrilling 10-9 non-conference victory at Swan Field.

Denison (3-1) broke open a 2-2 tie with the Fords (1-3) by scoring four unanswered goals, two in the second period then two more in the third. Haverford found an answer, though, and came back to take the lead with five straight goals including Dan LoSardo's tally in the opening minutes of the fourth to push the home team in front, 7-6, for the first time in the game.

The wild fourth period saw the teams alternate goals over the final 10 minutes. Chapin Speidel tied the game at 7-7 for Denison at the 9:09 mark but Christian Clay's 12th of the season allowed the Fords to regain the advantage less than a minute later.

Justin DeMarchi tied the game for the Big Red two minutes after Clay's marker and then the scoreboard received a rest for a few minutes. It was Haverford's Geoff Geppert who finally caused the lights to change as his unassisted goal with 1:58 remaining put the Fords back in front.

The lead wouldn't hold up as Blair Farinholt brought Denison into a draw on a tally with 68 seconds remaining in regulation.

At times the play in the four-minute overtime periods was deliberate -- only three shots, all by Haverford, in the second overtime -- while at other times the shots flew with a flurry.

Goalie Eric Caliendo helped keep the Fords in the game during the first extra period, coming up with three saves while Haverford was out shot by a 5-1 margin. The second overtime was all Fords, including the best chance either team had at breaking the tie up to what became the game-winner in the next period.

Haverford won the faceoff of the second OT as Scott Chanelli fought for control and finally picked up the ground ball to gain possession for the Fords. Haverford's possession ended with a Geppert shot that  Big Red goalie Chris Thomas saved, but after a Denison timeout following a successful clear, the Fords' Sage Disch forced a turnover and Haverford was off to the races again.

That possession culminated in another Thomas save on a Geppert shot but this time the Big Red committed a penalty on the play granting a man-up opportunity for the Fords. Twenty seconds later Geppert's shot ripped past Thomas' shoulder but hit the crossbar, ricocheted down in front of the goal line and Thomas was able to scoop the ball up to end the best threat, up to then, of the overtime sessions.

The opening faceoff of the third extra session finished all the way down into Denison's defensive end before anyone could gain possession as Thomas finally coralled the ball to initiate the Big Red's winning possession.

Once the Big Red settled into the Haverord defensive box, the cycle whirled around to Caliendo's right and then back behind the goal. Denison set up an offensive stack out in front of the goal as Blair Farinholt cradled the ball in his crosse along the back line. As the stack broke apart, Eddie Vita found a sliver of space wide enough for Farinholt to feed him with a pass.

From in close to the crease and on Caliendo's right, Farinholt deked to his left shoulder then brought the ball back across to his right, and his quick right-handed shot sailed into the upper corner behind Caliendo, spoiling Haverford's bid for the upset and allowing the Big Red to escape with the win.

Caliendo finished the day with a season-best and career-high 16 saves for Haverford while Thomas earned the win between the pipes for Denison with 10 saves.

Clay for the Fords and Speidel for Denison each collected three goals to lead their offenses. LoSardo and Geppert added two goals apiece for Haverford, and the game-winner was Vita's second of the game.

Chanelli finished the day with game-highs in ground balls (9) and caused turnovers (5), and was 6-for-10 at the faceoff dot for the Fords.

Haverford gets a short break before its next game, welcoming Skidmore College to campus for a 1 p.m. game Saturday at Swan Field.