Leicester, Mass. – Led by an incredible performance in goal by senior netminder Kevin Ranta (Beverly, Mass.), Clark University opened up the 2014 season with a hard fought 10-7 win over Wentworth Institute of Technology in non-league lacrosse action on Saturday afternoon.
The Cougars have won three of their last four season openers and defeated the Leopards (0-1) for the first time in four all-time meetings.
In addition to Ranta's outstanding showing, Clark also got a hat trick and an assist from freshman Nick Johnson (Amherst, Mass.) and two goals apiece from Rob Holden (East Longmeadow, Mass.) and Peter Christiansen (Seattle, Wash.).
Wentworth was the aggressor to begin the game, jumping out to a 2-0 lead midway through the first half on goals from Alec Paradis and Sam Bonsaint.
The Scarlet and White finally broke into the scoring column when Jack Goracy (Lumberton, N.J.) set up Johnson for his first collegiate marker with 6:43 left in the period.
A little more than a minute later, Nick Parent gave the Leopards a 3-1 edge with help from Michael Cushera.
Clark got a huge boost moments later when playing a man down, Holden took control of a ball in his own zone and raced down the field, firing a shot that whizzed past Wentworth keeper Jared Proulx.
That goal started a stretch of seven unasnwered tallies by Clark as Johnson, Goracy and Christiansen all netted second quarter goals to give the Cougars a 5-3 halftime edge.
The offensive surge continued in the third period with Jacob Maselek (Marblehead, Mass.) finding Chrisitansen for a man-up goal, Ryan Moore (West Hartford, Conn.) notching his first goal of the year and Jon Spencer (Hollis, N.H.) hooking up with Keegan Callahan (Tewksbury, Mass.) for an 8-3 Clark advantage.
Wentworth refused to go away, however, scoring three straight goals of their own to close the gap. Dillon Lynch and A.J. DiMasi started the spurt when they registered unassisted markers to end the third period. The run continued into the fourth quarter when Cushera took a feed from Paradis and scored a man-up goal less than four minutes into the frame.
Johnson answered back almost immediately for the Cougars, when he scooped up a ball and sprinted in for his third goal of the contest, making the game 9-6.
After nearly six minutes of action without a goal, Clark put the game away when Holden notched his second of the contest, jumping the Cougars edge to 10-6 with less than six minutes to play.
Bonsaint scored unassisted at the 3:40 mark but that's as close as the Leopards would get.
Ranta finished with a career-high 23 saves – 12 of which came in the opening period when Wentworth outshot the Cougars, 19-7.
Proulx was strong in goal for the Leopards, collecting 13 saves of his own.
Clark will play its next two games in Florida beginning with Tuesday's meeting with DeSales University beginning at 6:30 p.m.