St. Joseph-McMahon: Win on points

The best part was hearing that St. Joseph had kind of written off its FCIAC playoff hopes.

But the math gave them a chance. There were 150 power points up for grabs for the Cadets, 140 for McMahon, enough to give either team a spot.

The Cadets jumped out to the early lead. Kurtis Mudre forced a turnover, rushed up the left side, fed Colin Powell for a goal, and they had a lead. They went back-and-forth for most of the first before the Cadets started burying their shots, the third off Fillippo Petrini’s faceoff win. Kyle Souza’s hit knocked Drew D’Antonio off the ball in the closing seconds of the quarter; they rushed, and Chris Colon fed Ryan Corcoran (six goals, two assists) to make it 5-0. Corcoran made it 6-0 in the first minute of the second. They’d grabbed on, and they held on. (Fairfield Ludlowe, in a similar spot, won going away. (Link updated with Pat Pickens’ game story.))

Passing math class, they wait for their political science final and see where the other playoff coaches vote them.

The goalies’ performances get a little lost in a game like this, but both McMahon’s Josh Miller and St. Joseph’s Mike Braddick made some huge early saves. It’s just that, with all the turnovers, St. Joseph kept getting the ball back, kept getting good scoring chances and eventually broke through in bunches. “We didn’t clear the ball well,” Senators coach Mike Epstein said. “Credit to them. They knew what we were going to do. They took advantage.”

What were the Sens going to do? What they did in the fourth — get the ball to their big boys and let good things happen. Zack Bartolo and Drew D’Antonio got the ball, got open space, moved it with authority, took it to the net, scored.

“Let me tell you, Mike’s got some tremendous players,” Cadets coach Joe Izzo said. “Bartolo, D’Antonio, you’ve got to account for those guys every minute they’re on the field. If you don’t mark up — you can’t give those guys an inch to breathe.

“They got loose in the fourth quarter.”

The Senators had no choice but to get “a little more urgent,” as Epstein put it.

They’re healthy, Epstein said; I’d wondered how the team has come back after some injuries, most notably to Bartolo (headed for Notre Dame) and D’Antonio (for Bryant), some of which happened around the time in the middle of the season when the Senators’ schedule shifted into overdrive. I wondered if that combination had broken whatever rhythm they might have managed through their start to the season. “Sometimes kids are just going to make plays,” Epstein said. “Today, we just didn’t do that in the first and second quarters. … Their kids did. Good for them.”

The schedule similarly plays a part in St. Joseph’s year: no longer winning streak or losing streak than three. “This season, with a young team, there was a lot of working out where we have the best matchups,” Mudre said, “who can work well together.” They found a way into the FCIAC tournament, playing on the road somewhere Saturday.

“Listen, always, for us to make the FCIAC tournament, it’s a huge accomplishment,” Izzo said. “We’re in that middle group. We want to break into that top group.”

Michael Fornabaio