Photo by Tere Poplin
GREENVILLE, S.C. – (Box Score | Invitational Schedule) No. 3 Siena Heights (Mich.) edged No. 6 Reinhardt (Ga.), 7-6, in an overtime thriller to open quarterfinal action at the 2016 NAIA Men’s Lacrosse National Invitational. The inaugural event is being played out at Sirrine Stadium.
With the win, Siena Heights advances to the semifinals and will play the winner of No. 2 Missouri Valley and No. 7 St. Andrews (N.C.) Friday at 4 p.m. EDT.
Trailing 6-5 with less than a minute remaining in the final period, Tom Kreitzer cut into the middle of the circle and fired a shot past the Eagle goalkeeper and into the back of the net, tying the contest with 45 seconds left and eventually sending the game into overtime.
The game ended 1:20 into the extra period, as on their opening possession Siena Height’s Nicholas Lyons deposited a pass from Spencer Macek – his fourth assist of the contest – into the back of the net.
Macek’s four points led the team for Siena Heights, followed by Kreitzer’s three points (two goals and one assist). Macek was also tied with teammates Michael Birt III and Stephen Bloxam for the team lead with three ground balls each.
Reinhardt proved to be the aggressor on offense through the opening 15 minutes, as Dennis Bell found the back of the cage twice to give the Eagles a 2-0 lead. The Kennesaw, Ga., native’s first score marked the first-ever goal in NAIA Men’s Lacrosse National Invitational history.
Siena Heights netted its first goal of the contest at the 13:25 mark of the second quarter when John Holowaty scored off an assist by Tom Kreitzer. However, less than two minutes later Bell struck again, assisting Cole Hennings on the Eagles third goal of the first half.
The Saints cut the deficit to 3-2 on a goal from Chris Acton before the halftime buzzer sounded.
The two sides were nearly even on the first half stats sheet with Reinhardt holding a 17-16 edge in shots and a 14-10 advantage in ground balls.
Siena Heights quickly tied the game 3-3 early in the third quarter on Holowaty’s second goal of the game and 11th of the season. The goal sparked a third quarter that saw the two clubs combine for five goals with three coming from the Saints.
Reinhardt’s Kevon James put the Eagles up 6-5 early in the fourth quarter, but it was a lead that failed to hold.
Bell was the offensive leader for Reinhardt with four goals and one assist en route to five points. Goalkeeper Austin Ambrose – a First Team All-American – had a stellar performance in the loss with six saves.
Overall, Reinhardt took 36 shots, while Siena Heights notched 28.
With the loss, Reinhardt’s eight-game winning streak entering the event is snapped. The Eagles end the year with a 16-7 record and are eliminated from the invitational.
For more information on the NAIA Lacrosse National Invitational, click here.