Ben Avakian Leads MMA In Win Over UMass Dartmouth

BUZZARDS BAY, Mass. – It was a tale of two halves as Massachusetts Maritime Academy took on UMass-Dartmouth in men’s lacrosse and the Buccaneers secured the win after working hard to turn the momentum in the third quarter. Seven unanswered goals—including four in a three-minute span—spelled victory as the squads donned gold laces to support research for pediatric cancer.

The Corsairs came out very strong and applied continual pressure for the first quarter. Tom Donahue scored for the visitors just over two minutes into the game and, while Benjamin Avakian equalised just over 90 seconds later, UMass-Dartmouth finished the first with a 3-1 lead. With an 8-4 shooting advantage and an 8-5 groundball margin, the Corsairs looked unstoppable.

The second period, however, involved much more back-and-forth, as both sides took their chances, with an almost even number of shots, groundballs, turnovers and, indeed, goals. Kenny Parnell got the Bucs within one after less than two minutes and, near half-time, Donovan Prozinski reverted the Corsairs’ advantage to two, with the game’s midpoint seeing a 4-2 score.

UMD’s Nick Paternostro won the groundball off the third quarter faceoff and, after a penalty on Maritime, the Corsairs capitalized as Prozinski fed the ball to Jordan Torres for what felt like an insurmountable three-goal lead.

However, a series of turnovers led to Ted Powers picking up a groundball and, with a much-needed shot of adrenalin, the junior raced in from the midfield and fired past Devin Dunn. Also the visitors had a chance to get the goal back, the next five minutes concluded with a series of lasers being directed at Dunn, who was substituted for Kyle Taylor.

The goalie substitution backfired as UMD was whistled for a delay of game penalty and, with a man advantage, Parnell immediately fed the ball to Avakian, who beat Taylor to make it 5-4.

The score would remain there for the final five minutes of the quarter, though a costly turnover after a penalty on Maritime prevented Dartmouth from adding a goal in what had become a close game.

The Bucs started the fourth quarter with the ball and Alexandre Lucas took advantage after 47 seconds, driving towards goal before rocketing a shot past Dunn, who had re-entered. The freshman’s third goal of the year knotted the score at five and transferred the momentum squarely in the Blue-and-Gold’s favour.

Marshall McCarthy, who worked hard on face-offs, won his sixth groundball of the game on the ensuing scramble, feeding it to Franklin Ragge, who was denied. However, the Corsairs were blown up for holding and on the restart, Powers found Parnell open and his net-finder propelled Maritime to a 6-5 lead, its first of the game.

That goal at 13:02 was followed by a face-off that the Academy one once more, continuing a game-long strength that saw the Bucs win 14-of-17. Several passes later, Keagan Bartley slipped the ball Ragge, and the score then read 7-5.

For a team that applied relentless pressure in the first and scrapped hard for groundballs in the middle two periods, the Corsairs looked like all the wind had gone out of their sails. It took only 37 seconds for Powers to net a seventh goal and, were it not for the efforts of Dunn and his defense, Maritime would have won more handily as it shot six times in the final 11 minutes.

The final shot of the game came from the stick of Andrew Franks after UMass-Dartmouth committed a turnover, and the junior beat the keeper for his first career goal.

In the second half, the Academy out-shot the Corsairs 21-11, winning eight-of-nine face-offs. Both sides controlled the ball fairly well, with the Buccaneers turning the ball over 19 times in the game to the visitors’ 16.

Avakian and Parnell both scored twice on six attempts, while Powers joined Parnell with two goals and an assist. Michael Dolan (5-3) saved five-of-nine shots, while Dunn (3-2) gathered in 6-of-14. Each Corsair goal was scored by a different player, while Mike Rizzo was the only one with two assists.

A raffle in support of Go 4 the Goal was the real winner though, as the more than 120 fans who gathered on a brisk night donated $675 to support the charity.

Maritime improved to 5-3 (0-2 in the NEWMAC) and will next travel to Springfield College (6-5, 1-1) on Saturday for a 1 p.m. conference game. The Bucs will return home on Monday for a 4 p.m. Patriots’ Day tilt against Plymouth State (4-6).

Make sure to bookmark and get the inside scoop on Facebook and Twitter @mmabuccaneers. Plus, check out our new Instagram @massmaritimebuccaneers.

Gabriel Fidler, Sports Information Associate

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