GRANVILLE, Ohio – The College of Wooster men's lacrosse team gave 11th-ranked Denison University all it could handle through three periods on Thursday but ran out of gas down the stretch and fell 18-7 in the semifinal of the North Coast Athletic Conference Tournament.
Wooster hoped to reverse their fortunes from the 23-9 loss during the regular season, and they almost did that by taking an early 4-1 lead and holding a 6-6 tie at halftime.
In the first period, the Scots had a chance to go up after drawing a 30-second penalty but could not connect on its lone shot attempt during the man-up opportunity. Denison collected the save, got their numbers back to even and went up 1-0 on with a goal from Brooks Davy.
The Scots then scored four unanswered. Shaun Peirce scored his 51st goal, which tied him for the program's single-season record, with 10:13 left in the first. Ted Wells found Peirce who fired his shot off from where he stood.
Drake Nickolaison had a wraparound goal to give Wooster the 2-1 lead with 7:32 remaining in the first.
Soon after, Joe Altieri juked his defender on the left side of the goal and found an opening to make it 3-1. Wells did something similar to make it a 4-1 game as a stop-and-go created an opportunity for him.
Denison made it a one-goal game before the end of the period. They scored two goals within 30 seconds as an unnecessary roughness penalty after the first score gave the Big Red the ball back without a faceoff.
Wooster led 4-3 after the first period and won its first faceoff to start the second period. That led to a goal from Connor Mangan to make it 5-3.
Denison's Davy then collected the hat trick with 13:30 left in the first half to tie the game 5-5, and the Big Red took the lead 21 seconds later at 6-5.
The scoring diminished quickly from there but not before Wells made it a 6-6 game with a minute to play in the first half, and that score stood heading into halftime.
In the second half, Denison scored first, but Cullen Kuhn later scored his first goal from about 15 yards out to knot the game back at seven.
The game started to get away from Wooster from there as an outside shot by Davy found its way in as Davy alone scored four unanswered for the Big Red. Kuhn stopped the bleeding with a rebound goal with less than a minute remaining in the third to make it 11-8.
Denison then closed the game out with a 6-0 fourth quarter.
Davy finished with a game-high seven goals. Wells and Kuhn had two goals each to lead the Scots.
Ethan Scully had two caused turnovers which tied him for the program's single season record at 40.
Wooster was successful in all 16 clear attempts but only won four faceoffs. They were outshot 54-35 as Wesley Wagner made 11 saves in net.
Wooster finishes the year at 7-11 overall. Denison, who went undefeated in conference play on its way to the regular season crown, moves to 15-2 and into the championship game on Sunday.