By JOHN CORYER
---- — PLATTSBURGH — The Plattsburgh State men’s lacrosse team wanted to make its first-ever home playoff game one to remember Wednesday afternoon.
The Cardinals did so.
Tim Lawrence and Joey Kramer accounted for four goals and one assist each as Plattsburgh (14-3, 5-1) put together a solid 15-7 victory over The College at Brockport in the SUNY Athletic Conference Tournament semifinals at the Plattsburgh State Lacrosse Complex.
The win sends the second-seeded Cardinals, who are ranked No. 19 nationally, into Saturday’s 1 p.m. championship game at top-seeded Cortland. It will mark Plattsburgh’s first-ever appearance in the tournament finals.
Plattsburgh had defeated the third-seeded Golden Eagles (6-9, 3-3), 9-5, in regular season play.
“It’s hard to beat a team twice in a season,” Plattsburgh coach Ryan Cavanagh said. “But our players came out with intensity and with emotion. They wanted to protect their home field.
“We’re a quicker and faster team that likes to play an up-tempo game. We moved the ball well and possessed it well. We had very few selfish plays.”
The game was tied, at 1-all, early in the first period before the Cardinals went up by a 4-2 score after 15 minutes.
Plattsburgh then raced out to a 7-2 lead in the second. But with five seconds left in the stanza, Cardinal goalie Gordie Gehring, who otherwise played a very strong game with 10 saves, had a clearing pass intercepted by John Countryman and put into the net to cut Brockport’s deficit to 7-3.
The Golden Eagles then won the faceoff and Riley Austin got off a shot as time expired that Gehring made a nice save on.
“That was a momentum changer for us going into the second half,” Cavanagh said. “Lacrosse is a game of runs.”
The Cardinals picked up where they left off after intermission and eventually went up 11-5 in the late going of the third.
But Austin tallied with 25 seconds remaining in the period and Jesse Elliott eight seconds later to bring Brockport to within 11-7.
Once again, however, Plattsburgh had the answer when Kramer put his team back up by five goals with 0.7 seconds left on the clock.
It was another momentum changer and the Golden Eagles never recovered. Plattsburgh outscored the visitors, 3-0, in the fourth to seal it.
“The late goal in the third regained the momentum for us again and we played up to our team capabilities in the fourth,” Cavanagh said.
“I think as the game was nearing an end our guys were already thinking ahead to the Cortland game.”
Tom Duggan added three third-period goals for Plattsburgh, while James Read, Nick Travers, Anthony Pafundi and Nick Parrella all chipped in with one goal in the contest. Brendan Damm led the Cardinals with three assists and Brett McClelland added two. Five players chipped in with an assist each.
“We were able to get a lot of players involved in the scoring,” Cavanagh said. “When we beat them, 9-5, at their place, it was on grass. Because we play a fast-paced game, we’re a better team on turf.”
Plattsburgh held a 38-22 advantage in shots, a 28-26 edge in ground balls, was 20-for-20 on clears and won the turnover battle, 22-13.
The only place where an advantage showed up for Brockport was on faceoffs where the Golden Eagles went 19-of-24.
“We had a few slip-ups and a few errors, but overall we played well from the goaltender on out,” Cavanagh said. “We need to do a better job on faceoffs, however.
“The players were excited about playing a home playoff game and were able to keep their composure.”
Elliott and Austin led the Golden Eagles with three goals each, while Steve Brissette, Countryman and Clifton Jackson each added one. Cory Banwaree had a tough day of it in net for Brockport with just three saves.
Next up for the Cardinals will be Cortland, which is ranked No. 1 in the country in Division III. The Red Dragons rolled to a 16-5 victory over fourth-seeded Potsdam in the other tournament semifinal on Wednesday.
“We’re not just happy to be going to the finals,” Cavanagh said. “We’re looking to win the championship.”
Plattsburgh and Cortland met during regular season play on Saturday, March 30 in Plattsburgh and it was a very competitive game, with the Red Dragons ending up a 15-12 winner.
Plattsburgh 15, Brockport 7
Score by periods:
Brockport 2 1 4 0 — 7
Plattsburgh 4 3 5 3 — 15
Brockport scoring: Jesse Elliott, 3 goals, 1 assist. Riley Austin, 1 goal, 1 assist. Steve Brissette, 1 goal, 1 assist. John Countryman, 1 goal. Clifton Jackson, 1 goal. Sean McCaffrey, 1 assist. Bryon Palmer, 1 assist.
Plattsburgh scoring: Tim Lawrence, 4 goals, 1 assist. Joey Kramer, 4 goals, 1 assist. Tom Duggan, 3 goals, 1 assist. James Read, 1 goal, 1 assist. Nick Travers, 1 goal. Anthony Pafundi, 1 goal. Nick Parrella, 1 goal. Brendan Damm, 3 assists. Brett McClelland, 2 assists. Charlie Dullea, 1 assist.
Shots: Plattsburgh 38, Brockport 22.
Ground balls: Plattsburgh 28, Brockport 26.
Faceoffs: Brockport, 19-24. Plattsburgh, 5-24.
Clears: Brockport, 13-15. Plattsburgh, 20-20.
Extra-man opportunities: Brockport, 2-6. Plattsburgh, 1-2.
Saves: Banwaree, Brock, 3. Gehring (10), Howard (0), 10.
Turnovers: Brockport 22, Plattsburgh 13.