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Spiders suffer sudden death at No. 3 seed Penn in NCAA lacrosse tournament

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PHILADELPHIA — In the rain, on the road, in the NCAA men’s lacrosse tournament, the University of Richmond led with 30 seconds remaining.

A few minutes later, UR’s red-clad players were prone all over the field, brought down by sudden-death disappointment, and Quaker Sam Handley was running near the Spiders’ fans smiling and waving.

“Bye-bye,” he shouted. “See ya later.”

Penn showed why it’s the third seed in the field. The Ivy League champion Quakers scored with 29 seconds left in regulation to tie it and won it 17 seconds into overtime after gaining possession on the OT faceoff and calling a timeout to set up a play.

The Southern Conference champion Spiders fell 11-10 in the first round before 2,061 at Penn Park, an alternate site on the school’s campus used because Franklin Field, the Quakers’ normal home field, was involved with graduation.

“I feel like we were pretty fortunate to come away with a win,” said Penn coach Mike Murphy. “That’s one of the best teams we’ve played all year.”

Said UR coach Dan Chemotti: “I’m being perfectly honest with you. There was never a moment during that game that I thought we were going to lose. Not one moment. So at the end … it still hasn’t quite sunk in.”

Richmond (11-5) fell to 0-4 in NCAA tournament games. Penn (11-4) moves on to the quarterfinals and will face Rutgers or Harvard, which play Sunday, next weekend at Hofstra.

Failure to maintain possession in a key moment cost Richmond. The Spiders scored a man-up goal to lead 10-9 with 3:55 left. Penn’s shot with 59 seconds remaining was saved by Zach Vigue, but while advancing the ball upfield after that save, Richmond committed a turnover caused by Penn’s Ben Bedard.

“Huge,” said Murphy. “We had to get the ball back. ... The most important play of the game.”

Said Chemotti: “But still, the [UR] defense was doing what they needed to do at that point. So I still was like, ‘All right, well, we’re going to get a stop.’ We’ve been getting stops and supporting each other.”

Penn’s Ben Smith scored at :29 to force overtime, and Smith hit the winner in OT for his fifth goal. Dalton Young had three goals to lead Richmond, which was forced to defend uncommon size. The Quakers came at UR downhill with the 6-foot-5, 230-pound Handley, the Ivy League player of the year, and 6-5, 220-pound Gabe Furey.

“It’s hard to stop. We do it all week and our scout D has trouble with it,” said Smith. “Those two are huge for offense, definitely get it started in a really good way, and finish it in a really good way.”

Richmond trailed 5-2 after the first period but showed composure it exhibited during a pair of wins that led to the SoCon title.

“They’ve got a lot of studs. [UR defense] started to shut them down and gave the offense an opportunity to put the ball in the net,” said Spider Ryan Lanchbury (one goal, two assists). “I don’t think it was [our] best 60 minutes, but I think we played solid, and we got good opportunities.

“We maybe at times were a little quick with our shots.”

The Penn lead was sliced to 7-6 at halftime, and UR went ahead 8-7 midway through the third period.

“I just felt like we weren’t subscribed early on to like our normal formula of success,” said Chemotti. “We were just getting beat to ground balls. ... You’ve got 18- to 22-year-olds, you’re in the NCAA tournament, you’ve got a freshman goalie in there, you’ve got a couple of freshmen scattered all over the place.

“And as much as you try to tell them, ‘Hey, this is the same game that we’ve already played 15 times. Just take a deep breath and focus on your execution,’ it’s a lot easier said than done.”

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