Spartans get key Conference victory 12-8 at Pitt


#8 Kevin Horton scored three goals for the Spartans vs. Pittsburgh

In a game highlighted by scoring runs by both teams, the Michigan State Men's Lacrosse team defeated CCLA conference rival Pittsburgh 12-8 Sunday evening at the Charles L Cost Center on the Pitt campus. The Spartans evened their conference record to 1-1 and improved to 2-4 overall for the 2016 season.

Senior Midfielder, Kevin Horton (Clarkston, MI) scored three goals and both Steve McKee (Holt, MI) and Charlie Pistner (Cranbrook School, MI) notched two goals each as eight different Spartans scored in the game.

The Spartans scored two goals in the opening quarter on a fast break goal by freshman Charlie Pistner on a four player effort that involved close defender Patrick Donovan, long stick midfielder JT Hudson and midfielder Brett Braun; and on a goal by the sophomore Braun (Saline, MI), assisted by Tyler Vanschoick. The score was tied after one quarter 2-2 and the Spartans began to find their rhythm in the second quarter as they took a 5-3 halftime lead on goals by freshman Tyler Vanschoick (Detroit Catholic Central, MI), Kevin Horton and a man-up goal by junior midfielder Mark Tratt (Dewitt, MI). 

Pittsburgh then reeled off four straight goals to start the third quarter, aided by a non-releasable penalty against the Spartans for contact with a defenseless player during a loose ball on a face off late in the second quarter. Pitt led by two, 7-5, with 12:09 remaining in the third. The Spartans would rally late in the quarter and score three straight goals of their own to re-take the lead as the Spartan long poles would again ignite some early offense. All American defender Patrick Donovan forced a turnover and led a break, passing to fellow long pole Bennett Dipzinski who found Charlie Pistner in stride for his second fast break goal of the night.

32 Charlie Pitsner finished break from 25 from 22

#32 Charlie Pistner finished a fast break goal after a pass from #25 Bennett Dipzinski

Kevin Horton scored his second goal of the game with 1:25 remaining in the third and senior captain Gino Scarpelli (Flint Powers Catholic, MI) scored with 0:48 remaining to give the Spartans a 8-7 advantage after three quarters.

After a goal by Pitt that tied the game 8-8 with 12:24 remaining in the final quarter, the Spartan defense would stiffen and shut out the Panthers for the remainder of the game. Steve McKee would add two goals and senior Danny Meyers (Detroit Catholic Central, MI) and Kevin Horton one goal apiece as the Spartans closed the game strong with a four goal run. McKee's second goal in the quarter with 4:25 remaining was especially important as he drew a dead ball penalty on the Pittsburgh defense for a late hit; which allowed the Spartans to keep possession as they attempted to burn clock in the later portion of the quarter. Kevin Horton scored his third goal of the night with 3:10 remaining as he blistered the net from nine yards to seal the victory.

Steve McKee #18 finishes a goal

#18 Steve McKee scores his second goal of the third quarter

Freshman John Toth (St Francis De Sales, Toledo OH) took over face off duties for the Spartans for the first time in 2016 as senior Trevor Sabo (Detroit Catholic Central) was not dressed for the game due to a lower body injury. The Spartans went 10 for 22 on face offs for the night. Spartan goaltenders freshman Justin Overstreet (Hudson, Elk Ridge IN) and freshman Joseph Catanese (Wheaton, IL) each played one half for the Spartans.

John Toth #20 getting pinned

#20 John Toth battled a Physical Pittsburgh Team at Face Off

Turnovers for both teams were an issue in the game, with the Spartans having 17 total turnovers and the Panthers 16. The indoor facility featured a regulation length field (110 yards) but the field width was 10 yards (16%) narrower than a full sized lacrosse field, leading to closely contested possessions for both teams throughout the evening.

Pittsburgh's aggressive stick and body checking led to eight penalties on the Panthers for a total penalty time of 7:30. The Spartans took advantage with a man-up goal and were able to drain the clock during penalties in the fourth quarter. Michigan State was whistled for four penalties during the game for a total of 3:00. 

Head Coach Cam Holding summarized the game: "We're pleased to get an important conference win tonight on the road against a Pittsburgh team that was skilled, physical, and relentless. I'm especially pleased that eight different Spartans scored tonight and that our team was able to hold Pittsburgh scoreless for almost the entire fourth quarter. We finished the game strong, which is something we've been talking about as a team, after losing the last two games by one goal. Hats off to John Toth & the face off unit tonight for neutralizing the Pitt face off. It felt like we again had a large number of turnovers  and we'll have to look at the film and get those issues corrected to achieve our ultimate goals this season."

Michigan State continues a rugged travel schedule in the month of March as they will travel to CCLA conference opponent Central Michigan University (0-2 in the conference & 0-4 overall) in Mt Pleasant Michigan on Wednesday, March 23 for a 7:00 pm game. The game will be broadcast via Periscope & Twitter on "@Msu_Lacrosse".

The Spartans will have logged more than 3,500 miles of travel during the month with visits to Georgia Tech, Auburn, Liberty, Virginia Tech, Pittsburgh and upcoming visits to Central Michigan and Oakland University in Rochester Michigan March 30th. 

Bus in PA