The University of Maine men’s club lacrosse team played their first home game in four years on Friday night, beating Central Connecticut State University 14-10 in an exciting game.
A decent-sized crowd cheered on the team and grew steadily throughout the evening.
“With it being the first home [game] we’ve had, to get a turnout like this [was appreciated],” said UMaine junior goalie Cullen Finn. “The fans were great. It was nice playing on this field instead of just looking at it. It’s the only home game we have, so it’s good to come up with the win.”
UMaine looked sharp from the start. Senior defenseman Collin Spillane got the offense going with the first goal to put the Black Bears up 1-0. Another goal by junior attacker Ralph Nelson put UMaine up 2-0.
Eduardo Rentas of Central Connecticut was the first to put one by Finn, who stopped a number of shots prior to the goal. That was one of Rentas’ four goals.
Central Connecticut tied the game up at 2-2 before Black Bear senior attacker Cullen O’Neil put them back up 3-2.
Finn stopped save after save, but Rentas managed to get another one past him, tying the game up at 3-3. The Black Bears owned the rest of the second quarter. UMaine junior attacker John Tarnuzzer scored two goals in a row to put the Black Bears up 5-3.
Later, UMaine sophomore midfielder Tim Grose netted a goal and sophomore attacker Chris Smith scored one after some shifty moves to put the Black Bears up 7-3.
UMaine had some defensive breakdowns, allowing Central Connecticut to cut the lead to 7-5. Another Central Connecticut goal came from Hoang Vu, his second of the game, to cut the Blue Devils’ deficit to just one.
The rest of the game featured more offense with back-and-forth goals from both UMaine and Central Connecticut. Junior midfielder Chris Bagley and junior midfielder Steve Woodcock scored two for the Black Bears and Tarnuzzer put in his third goal of the night as well.
“I felt pretty good. I just went out there and just played,” Tarnuzzer said.
Rentas put in two more for Central Connecticut for his third and fourth goals. Despite the offensive play of Rentas and Vu, the Black Bears proved to be too much for the Blue Devils.
Bagley and Grose put in two more for the Black Bears during the fourth quarter. With the score at 13-10, Nelson put in his second and final goal of the game.
Finn had 28 stops for UMaine, saving over 70 percent of the shots he faced. Central Connecticut goalie Dylan Waitkus saved only 13 shots — less than he let in. The blame shouldn’t be put all on Waitkus but rather credit should be given to Black Bears offense for producing like it did.
“Our offense kept us in this,” Finn said. “We had a couple defensive lapses where we let them back in the game. But their goalie saw a lot of shots.”
This win will likely give the Black Bears a playoff berth. Their scheduled conference game on Saturday resulted in a forfeit for the University of New Haven, which also contributed to a chance at the playoffs. These wins put them at 4-4, 2-1 in their conference.
Looking forward, the club lacrosse team hopes this was just the first of more home games to come. “It was great to be home,” Tarnuzzer said. “It was nice to play for our home fans for once. It feels great to get a playoff berth. It’s a good way for us to get back into it.”
The Black Bears will play the U.S. Coast Guard Academy on April 27 and Bridgewater State College on April 28 to end the regular season.