Men’s lacrosse named No. 20 in country after historic win

Senior captain Brandon DeStasio dodges past RPI opponent in recent home match on Saturday, April 1. Seeded at No. 20, the team will next face Saint Lawrence on Saturday, April 15 at home. / Courtesy of Carlisle Stockton

The Vassar men’s lacrosse team secured yet another win over the Clarkson Golden Knights this past weekend. With this win, VC advanced to a strong 9-2 record and earned a spot in the Division III men’s lacrosse Top 20 for the first time in program history. This squad, who now hold the record for most wins in a single season, beat Clarkson in an incredible fashion, with senior Liam Moriarty dishing out an assist to freshman Mike Mullen who found the back of the net to put the Brewers ahead 10-9 with only four seconds left in regulation.

Vassar started off the game strong with three goals spread out among three seniors, Sam Houston-Read, Chris Billups and Brandon DeStasio. Clarkson then answered with two goals, but the Brewers did not let this phase them. They got back on the board with another goal when sophomore Drew Adams found Billups who converted for his second goal of the game. About halfway through the second quarter, DeStasio was able to tack on another unassisted tally and pull the Brewers up to a 5-2 lead. However, the Golden Knights were able to find the back of the net on two more goals, one on a man-down opportunity, to close the gap and enter the third quarter only down by one.

The third quarter began in a similar fashion to the start of the game, with Mullen posting his first goal and DeStasio completing his hat trick to put the Brewers up 7-4. Clarkson fought back with another two goals to bring the score back up to 7-6 with 14 minutes left to play in regulation. Sophomore James Thomas then gave the team some relief as he found the back of the net off an assist from Moriarty to give the Brewers a two-goal lead. This lead, however, was short-lived, as both teams exchanged goals and then the Golden Knights to tied it up at 9-9 with 22 seconds remaining.

Freshman Matt Lowery won the faceoff for the Brewers and Coach Mark Graham called a timeout with 14 seconds left on the clock to set up a play in the final seconds. The Brewers ran the ball down the field and Mullen converted off an assist from Moriarty to secure the win.

While the offensive effort was incredible, the defensive effort kept the Brewers in the game. Sophomore goalie Matt Boyd had 14 saves to back the Brewers defense. Senior defensemen Eric Prezioso picked up 5 ground balls and caused 4 turnovers, Lowery picked up 4 ground balls and senior Steven Mages picked up 2 ground balls to go along with a caused turnover.

Mullen has had a standout freshman season, being a strong offensive force with 24 points off of 16 goals and 8 assists. He attributes a lot of the accomplishments that the team has reached this season to trusting the process. “Trusting our teammates and coaches is the biggest reason for our success. Our seniors have done such a good job setting the example for us. We worked so hard in the off season and know it wasn’t for nothing,” he stated.

The Brewers this season are led by a large senior class who, as Mullen describes, are really the backbone of the team. “They have so much experience. Their communication on the field keeps us all on the same page,” Mullen noted. “The high energy they bring to practice forces everyone to give their best effort and the team improves from the top down.”

Sophomore standout James Thomas also emphasizes how large of a part the seniors have played in the achievements of the team this season. “The seniors have been an important role with not only their experience but their passion to put everything out on the field their last season,” he explained. Thomas continued on to point out how even those without the formal title of “captain” have positively influenced the team.

Thomas was especially excited about the big win over Clarkson this past weekend. All week, the squad had been preparing for the game and developing the type of play needed in order to pull out the victory. “The win of Clarkson was a benchmark win for us, really giving us a great chance for our playoff push. Chris Billups worked his tail off all week playing the role of Clarkson’s best player and gave us a great scout,” Thomas stated.

ve us a great scout,” Thomas stated. Head Coach Mark Graham, who leads this record-breaking team, attributes a lot of the team’s success thus far to the ability for all the seniors to be leaders on and off the field. “While we have received strong contributions from a large number of players and our assistant coaches this season, our seniors are the driving force behind our success. While four of them (Matt Altman, Brandon DeStasio (2x), Sam Houston-Read and Liam Moriarty) were chosen as team captains, we truly have 10 senior leaders. They push themselves, and their younger teammates everyday, and set a great example on and off the field. They are also one of the closest class of guys that I have had in more than 20 years of coaching.”

Coach Graham was especially proud of the way the team played against RPI and Clarkson these past two weekends. “The way we were able to finish the game against RPI gave us the confidence to overcome a late challenge on the road yesterday at Clarkson. Although they scored two late goals to tie the game 9-9 with 22 seconds left, our guys never got rattled, and knew we had time to win,” Coach Graham continued. “And the trust that was shown from senior, and three-time All-Conference midfielder, Liam Moriarty to pass the ball to freshman attackman Mike Mullen with five seconds left and the game on the line really says a lot about our team. We have learned how to win, and how to win together, as a team.”

With this confidence, Vassar heads into another week of practices before taking on another very strong Liberty League opponent, Saint Lawrence University. Mullen explained that, while the team’s win over Clarkson was enthralling, they need to get back to work and have a great week of practice. “St. Lawrence is a very skilled team,” he mentioned. “We just need to make the most of this upcoming week of practice and can’t take any days off. We know that every team in this league is beatable.”

The Brewers hope to continue to prove their dominance as they take on the Saints of St. Lawrence on Saturday, April 17 at home.

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