Cory Couture's goal 51 seconds into the second overtime propelled Denison to a 12-11 victory over Adrian College in the first round of the 2012 NCAA Division III Men's Lacrosse Tournament. With the win, Denison advances to the second round where they will travel to Lynchburg College on Saturday (May 12).
Adrian entered the contest with a sparkling 17-1 record and they proved early on to be up to the challenge the No. 8 Big Red presented. The Bulldogs took a 3-1 lead into the second quarter, and led by as many as three after a Tyler Tanguay goal in the opening seconds of the second quarter.
The Big Red offense would respond with two goals from Eddie Vita and one from Davis Lukens in the span of just 59 seconds, tying the match at 4-4 and setting the stage for what would be a one-goal contest the rest of the way.
A second goal by Lukens with 21 seconds left in the second quarter tied the game at 7-7 heading into halftime, and early in the third quarter, Chapin Speidel gave DU its first lead at 8-7 with an unassisted goal. Adrian's Coady Adamson responded with a goal three minutes later and then, while playing a man down, Adrian goalie Kevin Lerg posted one of his 10 saves off a shot attempt by Vita. That sparked an Adrian fast break that was finished off by Drake Dailey who sent a shot off the ribs of DU goalie Nick Petracca and into the cage, putting Adrian back on top, 9-8.
The score remained 9-8 heading into the fourth quarter where Alex Hardt would tie the game with 9:04 to play on the heels of a Bulldog turnover. With five minutes left, Adrian's Adamson put his team out in front for the eighth time on the afternoon at 10-9.
Denison's Chip Phillips, who won 16 of 28 face-off's on the day, took the ensuing draw, but a quick shot attempt for DU would sail wide, giving possession back to the Bulldogs with just over four minutes left. The Bulldogs would clear the ball and attempt two shots, regaining possession each time. After a time out, with 2:31 to play, Adrian promptly turned the ball over, giving Denison new life.
A time out by DU with 1:40 to play put the ball in the hands of the senior Lukens who came through with a strike that found the back of the cage, tying the contest at 10-10 with 1:30 left.
Before the Denison crowd could even stop cheering, Adrian took back the lead after a goal by John Hudzinski off a pass from T.J. Cook following a face-off win by Mitch Barnard, putting Adrian up 11-10 with 1:19 on the clock.
Now it was Denison's turn and a face-off win and ground ball by Phillips turned into highlight reel goal for Hardt who provided a backhanded scoop shot that went low on Lerg for the overtime forcing goal.
While the Bulldogs played an outstanding game overall, turnovers plagued them from the second quarter on. In the opening seconds of the second overtime, after winning the face-off and taking over possession, an unforced error gave the ball back to the Big Red for the last time.
Hardt would take the first shot that sailed just over the cage and seven seconds later, Couture went one-on-one and slipped in his shot past Lerg for the game-winner. The goal was the 30th of the season and 74th in Couture's career. It also marked the second overtime win for the Big Red in NCAA Tournament play.
Hardt paced the Denison scoring attack with three goals and two assists. Couture followed with one goal and four assists while Lukens notched a hat-trick with three goals. Vita checked in with two goals while Will Koontz, Speidel and Zach Walsh rounded out the scoring for the Big Red.
Senior defender Nick Farrell finished with three caused turnovers and five ground balls while sophomore long pole Austin Campbell ended with four caused turnovers and three ground balls. Also checking in with five ground balls was Spencer Riehl while Phillips led the way with eight.
Denison outshot Adrian 51-32 and gathered 41 ground balls compared to 32 for the Bulldogs. Man-up situations were at a premium as Denison was 1-for-3 while Adrian did not have an attempt.
This marks the 10th victory all-time in NCAA Tournament play and the eighth under head coach Mike Caravana. The start time for Saturday's second-round game at Lynchburg will be 7 p.m.