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Game Stats: SU vs. Harding (3/31/06)

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This past weekend was witness to quite a few firsts. Twenty-eight of the thirty five guys on the roster got on a bus at 6:15 on Friday morning, with Jay and Om (don't ask) showing up around 6:45 to travel to Searcy Arkansas to play #7 Harding and #19 St. Louis University, within 14 hours of each other.

As if this wasn't a tough road to hoe, half of the team had what they called a "hell week" in class, and many never made it out to an already shortened week of practice. Nevertheless, the trip was historic, as it was the first time SU was traveling outside the state for an out of conference game in its history. While SU has played ooc games over the past few year, never once have the Bucs come away with a W.

As the Bucs arrived, it poured for a brief period of time, just enough to make the short cut field very slippery.

Credit must be given to Harding, as it had quite a few fans, and it must be added they they were THE nicest we have ever had the pleasure of being around. Only Irish got the brunt of heckling for air balling a wide open crease shot. We will get to that later on, however.

The evening started with something we are very used to, but hadn't seen yet this year, mosquitos. After the rain, they came out in droves, but seemed to subside shortly after the game started. Harding had the color guard, a BEAUTIFUL rendition of the National Anthem before the game, and announced both starting line-ups to give it a great atmosphere.

When the game started, the Bucs were ready. The first face-off showed the Bucs could play with Harding as Daulton raced down the field and scored on a rocket shot to give the Bucs the only goal of the first quarter by either team.

The rest of the first quarter was one of missed opportunities by both teams as they adjusted to each other, the lights on the field, and maybe, the jitters. SU had many opportunities to capitalize in the first, but could not make it happen.

As the second started, Harding was able to start finding the back of the net. Harding scored 6 goals in the second to SU's 1. It was not that Harding was stifling SU's offense. We were able to run our many sets and had great opportunities. While Irish was the one who was heckled, he was one of about six wide open guys on the crease throughout the game that either missed wide open shots or flat out dropped passes. While SU was missing these golden opportunities, Harding made every possession, every shot count. That was the difference in the game.

The third saw SU cut the lead to 7-5 and come away with a shot on pipe and a rebound shot right in the goalie's chest, only to see the second rebound go down for the first fast break goal of the game by either team. It was a momentum killer for the Bucs, as Harding was able to score three more after that in short order to once again break the game open for good.

The fourth saw Harding play with poise and precision, never allowing SU to get back in the game, in essence trading goals. Harding scored a meaningless goal with under 30 seconds left in the game to go up 14-7, and a great goal by Jeffcoat with 2 seconds left was ruled no good because of a crease violation to in essence, end the game.

The game was a very clean game by both teams, with our long poles showing they can play against some of the best in Div. B. Harding was able to capitalize on opportunities, while SU somehow managed to miss out on simple chances that we usually make find the back of the net.

Harding proved why they are a contender for the national title, and will definitely surprise those other 6 teams ahead of them when it comes time for Nationals in Dallas.

SU realized, despite some of the West Cost teams commentary, that it can play with some of the best, that it is MUCH BETTER than last year, and is only going to continue to improve as almost the entire team will remain intact for next year as well.

After the game, the Bucs vowed to not miss the opportunities, if given to them against #19 St. Louis the next day. that is exactly what they did.

- Bill Bowman

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