Spartans Edged by Panthers

Castleton, Vt. - The Spartans' game against Plymouth State on Thursday night at Spartan Stadium will likely go down as "the one that got away." Castleton held an early 5-1 lead, but fell just short of the Panthers, taking an 11-10 loss.

Alex Green and Zach Davidson each posted three goals on the night, but it wasn't enough to put the Spartans offense over the top to earn the win. Nick Morello finished with a season-high five goals for the Panthers as they earned their third one-goal victory of the year.

In the first quarter, the Spartans got off to an impressive start, taking a 5-1 lead in the first quarter. Constant ball movement and quick passing led to five consecutive goals off of assists to start the game for Castleton, who took a 5-0 lead on a Will Stuhler goal with 5:04 to play in the quarter. Before the final whistle of the frame sounded, Morello struck for the Panthers, making it 5-1 at the break.

In the second quarter, the Panthers came surging back, breaking out for four consecutive goals to tie the game at 5-5. Morello's third goal of the game tied it up with 1:38 to play in the first half. Just before the halftime whistle, Zach Davidson did what he does best. With a Panther faceguarding him and the rest of the Panthers' defense focused on him as well, Davidson found a way to score, putting Castleton ahead 6-5 with nine seconds to go in the half.

After the break, the Spartans allowed another 4-0 run from the Panthers, and found themselves in a 9-6 hole with 3:39 left in the period. A pair of goals from Davidson and Mike Ruggiero in the final three minutes of the quarter cut the Panthers' lead to 9-8 entering the finale frame.

In the fourth, Castleton drew even on Davidson's third goal of the game. Alex Green found the junior at the top of the offensive formation and Davidson buried a rocket to tie the game with 10:53 left on the clock. 

Just under three minutes later, Plymouth State answered with a goal from Morello. The junior scored his fifth goal of the game off an assist from Zach Frank to put the Panthers ahead 10-9. Chris Annunciata followed suit 2:46 later. The Panthers' leading scorer ripped a crank shot from the left side that beat Spartan goaltender Sam Polas high, putting the Panthers ahead 11-9. 

In the final four minutes, Castleton possessed the ball for the majority of play, but could not crack the Plymouth State defense to tie the game. Sean Paradis was able to find the net with 3:58 remaining, making it 11-10. After that goal however, the Panthers locked down their defense, keeping the Spartans from scoring the tying goal and earning the one-goal win.

Four different Panthers finished with a team-high two caused turnovers, while Brandon Lee scooped five ground balls. Christopher St. George earned the win in his first collegiate start, making 19 saves for the Panthers.

Luc Leblanc finished 13-for-18 in the faceoff circle and scooped a game-high 11 ground balls. Owen Hartman finished with seven ground balls and two caused turnovers. Sam Polas made 10 saves in net for the Spartans in the loss.

Castleton falls to 7-5 on the season and will take to the road this weekend to play Husson in Bangor, Maine on Saturday, April 12.