JOHNSON, Vt. – For three Green Mountain College seniors, there must have been a feeling of déjà vu. Four years ago to the day, the Eagles battled Johnson State College to a 10-9 overtime win in its last game of the season to give the team its lone win. Fast forward to this afternoon and the Eagles achieved an eerily similar result against the Badgers ending the season yet again with an overtime win; this time a 7-6 overtime victory. Green Mountain gained its first win on the year with the effort improving to 1-12 overall and 1-7 in North Atlantic Conference play. Johnson State finishes the year 0-11 overall and 0-8 in the NAC.
The win snapped one of the NCAA's longest current losing streaks at 34 games, but fell well short of the NCAA record for most consecutive losses of 92 set by the City College of New York. The importance and magnitude of today's feat was not lost on Green Mountain's seniors.
"It's been terrific playing for Green Mountain and it feels great to end my career at GMC with a win," said senior attacker Mike Smith (Georgetown, Mass.) who leads the team with 29 goals and five assists. "The two years I was not able to play were hard and I missed the game, but there is nothing better than ending on such a high note with this win."
Another senior, midfielder Charlie Petrick (Henniker, N.H.), put the achievement in perspective.
"I love that we broke this losing streak and it really means so much to me," said Petrick. "However, what I love most about my time here has been the men I have played beside and the men that have carried me throughout these four years. I love every one of them and they are what I will remember most about my time here."
For the Eagles, Smith finished with four goals and two assists for a game-high six points, while Nick Parsons (Harpwell, Maine) added two goals, including the game winning overtime goal, and one assist to help drive home the win for Green Mountain.
Two Badger seniors, Matthew Malek and Matt Dekens led the team in its final game, each finishing with two goals for the Badgers, with Dekens adding two assists as well. Senior Ryan Belen and sophomore Jacob Eustis each notched a goal. In net, Jay Palmisano made eight saves on the afternoon on 15 shots from the Eagles.
Both teams struggled to find the net in the first frame until the Eagles caught fire; scoring four goals in the last 2:28, including two back-to-back goals from Parsons and Smith within 30 seconds of each other.
The Badgers finally got on the board off the stick of Dekens in the 2nd period to give the Badgers some life after the slow start.
In the third frame, Green Mountain came out strong again with Smith scoring the first two goals of the half, but that would be the last goal the Eagles would score in regulation as Malek answered with a goal of his own in the third making the score 6-2 with one period to go.
In the fourth frame, the Badgers came out strong with stifling defense and scored four unanswered goals by Eustis, Dekens, and Malek. The fourth goal came with just 46 seconds remaining in the game when the Badgers caused a key turnover while the goalie was out of position, and Belen was able to scoop the ground ball and score before the goalie could recover sending the game into overtime.
In overtime, Parsons sealed the game for the Eagles off an assist from Smith after one of Johnson's players was whistled for unnecessary roughness to give the Eagles a man up opportunity which they would not squander.
Despite losing the lead in regulation, the Eagles really bared down when it mattered most; a fact that was echoed by senior goalkeeper Luke Carey (Brooklyn, N.Y.) who stopped 13-of-19 shots on net to earn the win in the cage for GMC.
"I think this game showed the character of this team," said Carey. "Even in adverse conditions of any kind, the men on this team have been able to push through and work incredibly hard. We rose to the challenge and worked through it. I couldn't be happier with how hard we worked and how we battled to get this win."
The final game of the season for both squads was a thriller and one that won't be soon forgotten for many of the Eagles players as well as first-year Head Coach Mark Lange who picked up his first GMC victory with the team's win.
Lange summed up the season by saying, "It has been a great first season here at Green Mountain College and this victory is a great way to end our season. I am so very proud of all our players, coaches and the school itself. It was a total team effort from the defense to the offense. It was also so special to see so many GMC fans make the trip to support us. My players deserve all the credit in the world for this win. These seniors have really laid a terrific foundation for us to continue to build on. I wish we could start next season tomorrow."