Cadets topple Lasell, reach GNAC final
NEWTON, MASS. – A stout goalkeeping effort from sophomore Mark Paradiso (Westford, Mass.) and three fourth period goals helped push fourth-seeded Norwich University into the 2012 Great Northeast Athletic Conference postseason tournament championship game April 27.
Sophomore attacker Ian Thomas (Barrington, R.I.) notched the eventual game-winner with 3:21 to go in the fourth period. Despite falling towards the ground, he managed to get a shot off that made it into Lasell’s net for the 5-4 win.
“Giving credit to Ian, he had been looking for a chance like that the whole game,” Norwich coach Neal Anderson said. “We did miss some other opportunities on offense, but, in the end, we got the goals we needed.”
Paradiso, in the midst of 34 total shot attempts from Lasell, thwarted the host Lasers 16 times in front of the Maroon and Gold net. While he was keeping the host Lasers (12-5) at bay down the stretch, the Cadets’ offense responded.
Sophomore middies Andrew Dustin (Canterbury, N.H.) and Zach MacMillan (Brunswick, Maine) rebuffed a pair of Lasell scores midway through the final frame to keep Coach Neal Anderson’s squad tied at 4-4 into the closing moments. After Thomas’ score, Norwich hung on to the 5-4 edge as the clock ticked down at Grellier Field with the Lasers getting more opportunities, but Paradiso and the defense kept the home team out.
“We had an opportunity today, and we took advantage of it,” Anderson said. “We felt like we could do something like this, and our guys responded. We wanted to play a defensive game and block their shots if possible.
“Mark stepped up very big just as the entire defense and team did,” he added. “This gives us a chance to move towards another goal we’ve been looking at.”
Sophomore midfielder Ian Mendoza (Mount Airy, Md.), moving over the 30-goal mark for the season and getting within three of 50 for his career, topped the offense with two scores. Dustin also added six ground ball pick-ups to his day’s work.
Norwich now faces second-seeded Mount Ida Sunday, April 29, at Mount Ida’s Athletic Stadium with the tournament title and an automatic bid to the 2012 NCAA Division III national tournament at stake.
GAME NOTES: The Cadets gained their 10th win of the season which ties the program record that the 1980 squad set. … Norwich makes its first GNAC championship game appearance in program history Sunday. … Mendoza has a string of 11 consecutive games with at least one goal. He’s had multiple-goal games eight times in the span.