Worcester, Mass. – Freshman John Goracy (Lumberton, N.J.) scored the game-winning goal with 11 second remaining in the first overtime as host Clark University rallied for an incredible 6-5 win over New England Women's And Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) rival Wheaton College on Friday evening.
The win for the Scarlet and White pushes their overall record to 6-4 and evens out their conference ledger at 1-1, while the Lyons have now dropped three straight to slip to 3-8 and 0-3 in league contests.
Goracy's strike – his third of the night – capped a back and forth affair between the teams that saw Clark score three of the game's final four goals in a little more than eight minutes of action.
Eric Jansen (Walpole, Mass.) actually put Wheaton ahead, 1-0, in the first period when he deposited a rip by Clark netminder Kevin Ranta (Beverly, Mass.) just 4:29 into the game.
The Cougar offense, meanwhile, started off slow – mostly because the Lyons held possession for huge chunks of the first period. Clark finally broke through with a pair of goals less than a minute apart early in the second. First, Ryan Moore (West Hartford, Conn.) setup Jonah Bass (Amherst, Mass.) to even the score 3:56 into the quarter and then Goracy netted his first with help from Keegan Callahan (Tewksbury, Mass.) 39 seconds later.
Clark opened up the second half with another score as the Goracy-Callahan tandem gave the hosts a 3-1 lead.
Wheaton, however, wasted little time trimming into the deficit as Kyle Rumberger (Hyannis, Mass.) found the back of the net off of a Colby Shields feed (Yarmouth, Maine).
That goal ignited the Lyon offense and they scored two more goals before the third quarter ended. Ryan Gjerset (Austin, Texas) collected an unassisted tally, evening the score at 3-3. Gjerset then became the playmaker, feeding Shields for a man-up marker with 1:39 left in the frame, giving the Lyons their first lead since the beginning of the contest.
More than ten minutes went by in the fourth without a score until Peter Christiansen (Seattle, Wash.) found Nick Johnson (Amherst, Mass.) for his league-leading 23rd goal of the year, tying the game at 4-4.
Wheaton went back to what worked for them earlier in the night – Gjerset to Shields - and that combination gave the Lyons a 5-4 advantage with 1:04 remaining in regulation.
The Cougars gained possession on the faceoff and after Moore's shot with 17 seconds sailed wide, Johnson got the ball on the restart. He raced from left to right from behind the goal, weaving through some traffic out in front of the cage and unleashed a laser that whizzed past Harrison Bramhall (Barrington, R.I.) with eight seconds left, sending the game into overtime.
For Johnson, the goal was eerily similar to the goal his brother – former all-conference performer and current assistant coach, Chris – scored against the Lyons the last time the Cougars defeated the Lyons. Back in 2011, Chris scored the game-tying goal with just five seconds left in regulation, forcing overtime – a game Clark eventually won 11-10 in double overtime.
Each team had a shot turned away by the opposing goalkeeper in the extra session and when Ranta stopped Cam Hanlon's (Hanson, Mass.) shot with 29 seconds left, it set the stage for Goracy.
After a timeout, Goracy found himself in the far left corner trying to shake a defender. He dodged right and circled back left, heading towards the cage. A crossover step helped get him inside his defender, creating enough space for him to fire a high shot that found the upper right corner of the goal, kickstarting a wild, bench-emptying celebration.
Clark held a 37-28 edge in shots, but everything else was extremely close. Ranta made 11 saves while Bramhall made ten and each team committed 19 turnovers. The Cougars had 35 groundballs to the Lyons 34 and Clark cleared the ball 19 times on 24 attempts while the visitors were 17-for-24.
Shields paced the Wheaton attack with two goals and an assist and Gjerset added a goal and two helpers of his own.
In addition to Goracy's fourth straight game with three goals, Johnson added a pair and Callahan handed out a pair of assists.
The Clark backline of Zach Duffy (Wakefield, Mass.), Max Nyquist (Okemos, Mich.), Sam Johnson (Swampscott, Mass.), Tom Snyder (Westfield, N.J.) and Bradley Paul (Manchester, Conn.) did an admirably job on Matthew Hillman (Brookline, Mass.). One of New England's most prolific scorers, the Cougar defense snapped his 25-game point scored streak and held him off the scoresheet for just the third time in his career.
Both teams will be back in action on Wednesday against league opponents. Wheaton will travel to Massachusetts Maritime, while the Cougars play host to Babson.