SALISBURY, Md. — Putting the perfect punctuation mark on a thrilling overtime battle, Andrew Cook landed the game-winner in the 64th minute as the fourth-ranked Christopher Newport men's lacrosse team overcame a five-goal deficit in the second half to stun sixth-ranked Dickinson, 12-11, during the NCAA Quarterfinals on Saturday afternoon at Salisbury's Sea Gull Stadium.
Matching the largest comeback in program history, the Captains dug out of a 9-4 hole in the third quarter with a breathtaking rally. Still trailing by three with six minutes left in regulation, Cook deposited back-to-back goals before Drew Miller connected on the equalizer with 22 seconds remaining in the fourth period. After the defense stood tall against several harrowing rallies by the Red Devils, Cook buried the clincher with less than a minute left in the first overtime period.
Cook eventually finished the game with four points, including his 10th hat-trick of the season. Meanwhile, Miller led the team with five points, while Alex Brendes and Brett Jackson added two goals each.
On the defensive end, Zac Hanway was a machine in the cage as the fourth-year phenom posted 15 saves. Nine of his stops came in the second half, including one at the end of regulation and another in overtime. Equally effective on the back end, Ryan Young, Burke Widhelm, and AJ Rosacker had two takeaways apiece.
Just as important, Warner Cabaniss did yeoman's work in the middle of the field. Taking all 27 faceoffs, the All-American scraped together 13 wins and seven ground balls. He was especially impactful in the third quarter as the second-year standout won five of the seven duels to jumpstart the comeback bid.
With the triumph, Christopher Newport advanced to the NCAA Semifinals, which will take place at Sea Gull Stadium on Sunday at 3 p.m. The Captains will square off against No. 2 Salisbury, who remained alive after notching a 12-9 win over No. 9 Washington & Lee.
Staring at a five-goal deficit early in the third stanza, Christopher Newport settled in. After posting a late fourth-quarter rally to steal a 13-12 decision against Dickinson in the regular season on March 18, the Captains never wavered on Saturday.
Kicking off the comeback, Brendes got the action rolling with a snipe from the left side before Will Mercado snapped off a dagger on the doorstep. Moments later, after Brandon Young collected a roller on the ensuing faceoff, he charged up the field and flipped a feed to Miller, who blew a worm-burner through the keeper, which cut the team's deficit down to two.
Although the Red Devils answered with their 10th goal, Miller shot back with a howitzer into the top right corner of the cage, which sliced Dickinson's lead down to 10-8 entering the fourth quarter.
After the offense carried the Captains in the third period, the defense was electric in the fourth. Leading the way, Rosacker orchestrated a fantastic series early in the frame. Playing well beyond his years, the freshman stalwart bodied up an attacker along the right alley before sprinting across the field and pestering another Red Devil on the left side.
Although Dickinson kept control, Rosacker continued stalking the opposition. After locking off a player at the top of the zone, he was able to slide off his mark and double-team a different attacker. Using a barrage of stick-checks, he eventually dropped the Red Devil to the turf, ripped possession away, and started a successful clear.
Just moments later, Rosacker dropped the hammer on another attacker with a huge trail-check to force a turnover along the left side of the crease.
Meanwhile, Ryan Young ate up a roll along the left pipe before deflecting a shot during a man-down situation. Although Dickinson was eventually able to scratch out a single goal during the squad's sustained onslaught, Christopher Newport had an answer.
Trailing 11-8 with less than six minutes left in regulation, the Captains produced a ninth goal with heart, hustle, and a highlight-reel finish. After a Christopher Newport pass skipped off the turf and bounced towards the sideline, Dickinson was content to let the ball dribble out of bounds. However, Miller and Cook flew past a pair of defenders on a sprint to save the ball.
Eventually, Miller kept the play alive before Cook snatched possession and broke out a slick spin move to spiral past a Red Devil on the way to his first goal of the game.
Just over one minute later, the senior All-American continued his surge. After grabbing a pass from Brendes, he dipped low and uncorked a sidewinder through the goalie's wickets to pull back within one at 11-10.
With their lead down to a single goal, the Red Devils tried to steal some momentum, but Hanway gobbled up a low liner with four minutes left in regulation. Later, after coming up empty-handed during a lengthy offensive stand, Christopher Newport faced a dire situation.
After Dickinson gained possession, the opposition whistled for a timeout with 90 seconds remaining in regulation. Looking to slice crucial time off the clock, the Red Devils methodically worked the ball around the field. However, after waiting for an opportunity to pounce, Aidan Wheeler jumped on an attacker along the right sideline and jarred the ball loose with 34 seconds on the scoreboard.
Working fast, Ryan Young launched a pass to Coby Auslander, who made a leaping snag near midfield. Pushing the tempo, the senior bolted up the field and lined a feed past a diving defender to Miller, who was stationed near the cage. After corralling the ball, he tiptoed along the crease, got the keeper to leave his feet with a fake, and deposited along the right pipe for the game-tying tally.
Although there was just enough time left for one last push by Dickinson, Hanway dropped to his knees and stoned a clean look by the opposition to wrap up regulation.
In the extra session, Campbell Pozin won a scramble on the opening faceoff, but Brendes' blast was blocked. Trading rallies, Dickinson stormed in the other direction, but Hanway came through with another huge save during a fast-break opportunity before Aidan FitzGerald grabbed the rebound.
Continuing the back-and-forth affair, Christopher Newport pieced together a quick clear looking to catch the Red Devils on their heels. Leading the charge, Cook was greeted by a pair of long-poles. Fighting to keep control of the ball, he battled through contact, wiggled free, and unloaded a bullet that found its way into the back of the cage. Unfortunately, the referees awarded a timeout just a split second before Cook uncorked the shot, which wiped the goal off the board.
With new life, Dickinson survived Christopher Newport's ensuing outburst before the Captains faced another crucial defensive stand. Refusing to break, Ryan Young sacrificed his body and blocked a shot. Shortly thereafter, Widhelm planted an attacker into the turf before snatching the ball.
After a successful clear by Wheeler, Mercado hit a wet patch and slid on the turf during a dodge along the right alley. Keeping his wits, he regained his footing despite facing pressure from a pair of defenders. Eventually, after retreating for a moment, he flipped the ball over to Cook, who had a one-on-one match-up with a long-pole.
Looking to end the marathon, Cook cut to his right and unleashed a screaming one-timer that whistled past four defenders and the keeper before finding its way into the top left corner of the cage.
Incredibly, the storybook ending to Saturday's game was a perfect sequel to the program's only other NCAA Quarterfinal victory. On the exact same field nearly two years ago to the day, Brendes sank a similar overtime rocket that capped off an identical 12-11 victory over Lynchburg.
The goal also wrapped up a historic rally. The five-goal comeback equaled the largest in school history, matching a similar second-half surge against No. 15 Frostburg State during a 12-11 win on March 26, 2016.
Long before Cook's late-game heroics, the two squads traded blows early in the first quarter on Saturday. After Dickinson opened the scoring, Jackson responded. Playing a little bully ball, the second-year star muscled through a defender during a one-on-one battle before lacing a laser from long range for the squad's opening tally.
Following the offensive stand, Christopher Newport stepped up on the defensive side. Hanway made two early saves and pocketed a loose ball that was deflected by Widhelm. FitzGerald also had a nice closeout to force a low-percentage shot, while Brandon Young ripped the ball away from a midfielder after the Red Devil slipped on the turf.
Although Dickinson continued to attack and strung together four straight goals in the middle of the period, the Captains whistled for a timeout and landed a counterpunch. Needing to flip possession, Rosacker showed tremendous hustle as the first-year standout made up 10 yards on an attacker while winning a race to the sideline after a Red Devil's shot was blocked.
With one last opportunity at the end of the opening period, Miller laced a slick feed across the crease to Auslander, who dunked along the right post.
Still holding a 5-2 edge at the start of the second stanza, Dickinson stretched its lead to four before Carson Hoffman stepped up with a sensational sequence. Making his presence felt, the junior killed off a clear by the Red Devils after launching the keeper over the right sideline during a physical altercation at midfield. Moments later, he set a screen that bottled up a pair of defenders, which allowed Brendes to convert a missile from the right side.
Inching closer, Christopher Newport faced a man-down situation, but FitzGerald forced an off-target shot before securing a rebound after a save by Hanway. After the downers cleaned up the penalty, Brandon Young set up the squad's fourth goal with a masterclass on the other side of the field.
After getting caught on the offensive end following a successful clear, Young turned and bolted towards midfield. Expecting the long-pole to sub, a Dickinson attacker followed and raced across the line. Realizing the situation, Young threw on the brakes, changed course, and ran back into the play, which resulted in a 6-on-5 situation. Taking advantage, Robby Adams quickly tossed the ball to Young, who flipped it inside to Jackson. With the defense scrambling to catch up, the sophomore fired a dart from the interior, which pulled the Captains back within two at 6-4.
Still facing consistent pressure, Christopher Newport remained vigilant on the defensive end. During a shorthanded situation, Hanway picked off a pass in the crease before Pozin orchestrated a clear with a slippery run up the right sideline to kill off the penalty. Later, Hanway came back with two more stops, including one on a break and another on a pointblank blast. Then, Rosacker continued his eventful afternoon as the freshman bottled up a cutter along the crease, which allowed a pass to sail out of bounds.
Although Dickinson managed to slap two more goals on the board before the first half expired, the team's 8-4 lead at the break was not enough. Clawing back into the contest, Christopher Newport stepped up on both sides of the field to earn the come-from-behind victory.
Overall, the Captains held a 47-42 lead in shots, while both squads notched 37 ground balls and Dickinson held a modest 14-13 edge in faceoffs. Along with Cabaniss' seven rollers, FitzGerald secured five. Widhelm also collected four ground balls, while Brandon Young added three to go along with his two assists.