Andrew Scalley was not supposed to take the last shot in Sunday’s MAAC men’s lacrosse championship – but it’s a good thing for the Mount that he did.
On a play drawn up to get the ball to the Mountaineers’ leading scorer and MAAC co-offensive player of the year, Cody Lehrer, the Siena defense pressed out on the Mount offense forcing the ball behind to Scalley, who conveniently found himself unguarded before completing his hat trick for the game-winning goal. The victory gave the Mount a school record 12 wins as well as its third MAAC tournament title and first since 2003.
“Andrew did something that he has been doing all season long,” said coach Tom Gravante, who was named the MAAC coach of the year before the tournament began. “He got a step on his defender, came to his strong hand, which is his right hand, came around the cage and he popped it.”
Either Scalley or sophomore Brett Schmidt was supposed to get the ball before dishing it to Lehrer in a play drawn up by the assistant coaches.
“The staff had a play that they wanted to implement, which the players understood. I myself wanted to stick with a certain play that was working for us,” Gravante said. “But ultimately the ball was going to be put in the area of where I wanted it to go so I was OK with what we agreed on, implementing a play.”
Coming out of a timeout the play begin with 14 seconds remaining, but Scalley admitted that when he got the ball, he had no idea how much time was left.
“I caught the ball and didn’t have any clue how much time was left on the clock,” Scalley said. (According to Gravante it was four seconds.) “I just made a hard move and knew I had to get to the goal and shoot quickly and fortunately it worked out for us – I shot it high and hard and beat the goalie. It was pretty surprising.”
Scalley, the tournament’s MVP, acknowledged that the play was designed to get the ball to the team’s “big shot” – in terms of scoring, not ego – Lehrer, who was supposed to come off a back pick and break in front of the goal. But Gravante said he trusts Scalley to make the right decision in pressure situations.
“[Andrew’s] very good at the cat and mouse game, you might say, the chase game. He set that defenseman up pretty good, the young man gave him too much ground and he made him pay for it,” Gravante said. “He had daylight to the cage and he went, and that’s it, those are your options. If you have daylight to the cage, snap it.”
Scalley knew almost immediately that it was a game-winner.
“I shot it and I turned back and saw the ref and he put his arms up and I knew it was over then. I don’t really know what I did after I scored. I just ripped my helmet off and started running and tried to get to our goalie T.C. – he played an unbelievable game,” Scalley said. “And then I knew they couldn’t review it or anything being a college game … As soon as I saw everyone storm the field I knew it was over.”
The modest Scalley was quick to credit his teammates and deflect any extra attention his goal has brought him.
“I’m proud of the team and all the effort we put forth throughout the year and couldn’t have done it without the defense, they played an unbelievable game,” Scalley said.
Brett Schmidt’s twin brother, Bryant was selected to first-team All-MAAC as a midfielder, but Brett and Scalley, who were strong contenders to win rookie of the year, did not even garner a second-team nod. But Scalley said that did not bother him and may have even helped him score the winning goal Sunday.
“I wasn’t really too worried about that. I mean it would’ve been nice to get but I mean had I won that I probably wouldn’t have done what I did in the championship so I’ll take the championship over that any day,” Scalley said.
Gravante said he was not worried if the final play did not produce a goal because he was confident his team would get the first opportunity in sudden-death overtime.
“As a coach you always need to stay one to two steps ahead of the players in terms of being able to direct them and organize them. The bottom line is, we snap a shot and don’t score we’re going to overtime because at this point we have the best faceoff kid in the conference [Ben Trapp],” Gravante said. “I was pretty confident if we didn’t win the game [in regulation] … [but] it never got to that point and that’s OK.”
As for Scalley scoring the game-winning goal, he said it has brought him some additional fame in the last 48 hours.
“It’s crazy how many people have been texting me, calling me, e-mailing and stuff. I mean my family but also friends and people around campus that I didn’t even know followed lacrosse,” Scalley said. “It’s pretty nice though to see all the support we’re getting, to get some recognition for the team for the good season we’ve had.”
The Mount travels to Charlottesville, Va., to face No. 1 Virginia in the first round of the NCAA tournament Saturday for a 7:30 p.m. game to be broadcast on ESPNU. If things go well for the Mount, Scalley may not be the only one getting extra attention afterwards, and someone else may get a turn in the spotlight.
Notes: The Mount was not granted a man-up opportunity the entire game … Ben Trapp was 10-for-15 on faceoffs in the championship game … T.C. DiBartolo made 13 saves, Siena’s MAAC defensive player of the year Brent Herbst had seven … DiBartolo only allowed five of the six goals as A.J. Shaufler allowed one goal and registered two saves in one minute and three seconds while DiBartolo served a penalty … Lehrer, the Mount’s leading scorer as well as one of the tops in the nation, was held without a goal but had the Mount’s only assist … On video, the entire Mount sideline jumps in unison as the winning goal is scored. They all rush the field as the camera stops moving. Seconds later, team manager Zach Gilbert, who was running the camera just seconds before, is seen running across the field to join the dog pile on top of DiBartolo.