Keuka College's men's lacrosse team held a one-goal lead with 5:35 remaining in the third quarter of Saturday's big non-conference clash against rival Elmira College.
While the Storm's offense had been producing against the Soaring Eagles, it was the Green and Gold's defense that helped Keuka pick up its second straight win.
The Storm (2-1) held Elmira (1-4) scoreless for the final 20 minutes and 35 seconds on a chilly Penn Yan Academy field as Keuka defeated Elmira 14-8.
Junior Connor Latimer (Whitby, ON/Genesee Community College) scored a season-high five goals and added two assists while senior Mike Crumlish (Hilton, NY/Hilton) added one goal and a season-high four assists to lead the Storm.
"We possessed the ball really well, took good shots on offense and got the ball back on defense when we needed to," said Latimer, the reigning North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) co-Offensive Athlete of the Week.
"We were more athletic than they were and we controlled the ball better than Elmira did. We were better offensively, defensively, all sides of the ball. … A win like this is huge for our confidence. Everyone was pumped up for this game beforehand, facing an Empire 8 team, and it was a big win."
Sophomore Cory Gray (Seneca Castle, NY/Midlakes) had two goals and one assist, classmate James Voigt (Penn Yan, NY/Penn Yan) added two goals and senior Anthony Jones (Syracuse, NY/Corcoran), sophomores Derek Pfeiffer (Lee Center, NY/Rome Free Academy) and Anthony Luppino (Penn Yan, NY/Penn Yan) and freshman Brendan King (Auburn, NY/Auburn) each added goals for Keuka.
Latimer scored two goals with one assist, Gray had two goals and Crumlish added three assists in the opening half as Keuka and Elmira were tied at seven heading into halftime.
Gray scored the Storm's first two goals to pull the Green and Gold even at two late in the first quarter, but Tyler Campbell gave the Eagles a 3-2 lead with a goal with 26 seconds left in the opening quarter.
The Storm responded by scoring the next three goals to take a 5-3 lead. Crumlish fed Luppino to even the score at 3, then two minutes later Latimer fed Pfeiffer for a man-up goal and a 4-3 lead.
King pushed the lead to 5-3 on an unassisted tally halfway through the second before Elmira scored three of the next four goals to knot the score at six. Latimer put the Storm ahead 7-6 on an unassisted goal with 1:50 remaining in the half, but Elmira pulled even on Jackson Correia's man-up goal with 1:16 left in the half.
Latimer found Crumlish on the goal mouth for a man-up goal 1:50 into the third to give the Green and Gold an 8-7 lead, then Latimer scored unassisted with 9:56 remaining to stake the Storm to a 9-7 lead.
Elmira pulled within one on Brady Richards' unassisted tally with 5:35 remaining in the third, but a stout Storm defense clamped down and held the Eagles scores the rest of the game.
Leading 9-8 starting the fourth, Gray fed Voigt for a two-goal lead 1:11 into the fourth and Crumlish fed Jones for an 11-8 lead with 10:04 remaining.
"I was just trying to possess the ball," Crumlish said. "Coach (Jason Paige) has told Connor, Cory and myself many times to keep the ball with the attackmen when the midfielders are tired. They're running up and down playing offense and defense, so we need to give them a break. Possessing the ball was key for us."
Voigt extended the lead to 12-8 on an unassisted goal with 9:08 to play before Latimer scored twice to close out the scoring. On Latimer's next-to-last goal, the attacker moved towards the net and fired a behind-his-back shot into the far portion of the goal, bringing the crowd to its feet after the impressive goal.
Sophomore Eric Saltrelli (Webster, NY/Webster Schroeder) stopped 16 saves, the second-most in his career, to stymie Elmira's attack.
Defensively, juniors Brandon DeCaire (LaFayette, NY/LaFayette) and Scott Miller (Penn Yan, NY/Penn Yan) each forced three turnovers while Luppino and classmate Stephen Ruggles (Corning, NY/Corning) each caused two turnovers as Keuka forced Elmira into 20 turnovers.
"Our defense definitely picked it up after a slow start," Crumlish said. "Salty was huge in net, he had a couple of 1-on-1 saves and our defense was great at clearing the ball up to the middies, and our middies were great clearing it up to the attack. This was a huge win for us."
The win was the 99th at Keuka for Paige, in his 15th year leading the Storm. He will go for career win number 100 on March 30 when Keuka travels to face rival Morrisville State at noon in the NEAC opener for the Storm.