WHITTIER, Calif. – Sam Russell totaled seven points and Robert Bazlen made 17 saves as the junior duo paced the Poets to a thrilling 8-7 win over previously unbeaten Ithaca Wednesday afternoon at Memorial Stadium.
Russell had his hand in Whittier's first seven goals but the Poets (1-1) didn't need him for the game-winner. Daniel McQuade finished a feed from Colin Palma with 3:03 left in regulation to lift the Poets to the one-goal win.
Ithaca (2-1) had the ball with less than four minutes to play and ripped a shot from 10 yards out. Ryan Kirkpatrick blocked Jake Long's attempt and the ball caromed towards midfield where Palma corralled the loose ball, completed the clear and found McQuade in front of the cage.
The Bombers had two more opportunities to find the equalizer but the defense of the purple and gold secured the win. Bazlen turned away Jake Long's shot with less than two minutes to play and following a critical mental error by the Poets, Riley Myrick made the play of the day by forcing Pat Slawta into a turnover.
Whittier took possession and ran out the final 50 seconds of the clock.
The Poets opened the game with a man-up goal at 10:10 of the first stanza. Taylor Dean found Russell to give Whittier an early 1-0 lead.
After Ithaca evened the score at 1-1, Colt Adams dished out a helper to Russell to close the quarter. Russell's second goal came at the 1:01 mark.
The Bombers and Poets traded a pair of goals through the first 10 minutes of the second quarter but a 3-0 run capped by goal with one second on the clock gave Ithaca a 5-3 halftime advantage.
McQuade scored his first of four goals at 6:52 of the third stanza to pull to trim Ithaca's lead to 5-4.
The Bombers pushed their lead back to two goals with a score at 5:05 of the third. Whittier ended the game by scoring four of the final five goals.
Thomas Brook picked up a team-high four ground balls and won two of his three faceoffs in the final 12 minutes. As a team, Whittier struggled from the 'X.' The Poets managed just 5-of-18 faceoffs.
Whittier returns to action tomorrow evening with a 5 pm game against Gordon.
NOTES – This is the sixth time in the past two seasons Whittier has played a game decided by one-goal...the Poets lost their last five games to the Bombers dating back to 2006…Ithaca beat the Poets 11-3 in 2010…Whittier was 18-of-25 on clears while Ithaca was 15-of-17.