By JERAMY STOVER, Staff Reporter
Freshman Mitchell Stapleton gave the University of Michigan-Dearborn lacrosse team a much-needed, 10-9 win over Aquinas Sunday with a game-winning goal in overtime.
Stapleton scored two goals in the contest. He now has 11 on the season.
Knowing how badly his team needed the win, Stapleton was happy to be the hero.
“It was a great feeling. It’s one of the reasons I play, for moments like this,” Stapleton said.
UM-Dearborn head coach Jason Watts has been pleased with how his talented freshman has progressed throughout the season.
“He’s consistent he’s one of our workhorses,” Watts said. “He’s developed into one of our key offensive guys.”
Hannibal Roda netted two goals for the Wolverines. He has scored in every game he’s played this season and has scored two or more goals in four of six games. Roda was happy to see his team play a complete game.
“I think we played great, honestly. We came together and finally played a whole four quarters of lacrosse,” Roda said. “With the next two conference games coming up, it was huge for us to come out and get the victory. We’re in the playoff push.”
With a playoff chase looming, UM-Dearborn jumped out to a 3-2 lead over Aquinas after the first quarter. Things would change early in the second as the Saints would make their charge. The Wolverines trailed by one at halftime 6-5.
From halfway through the second quarter to halfway through the fourth, Aquinas struggled against the Wolverines’ stout defense. It was a turning point in a crucial game.
“That was huge, our defense is the reason why we were even in the game,” Stapleton said. “It was a huge game for our defense.”
Aquinas and UM-Dearborn fought an intense fourth quarter knowing how much was on the line. Each team found the back of the net three times, which forced an overtime period.
Watts explained how important the game was to his team.
“It was a needed win to be honest,” Watts said. “We treated today like a playoff game.”
The defense wasn’t the only unit coming through in the clutch for UM-Dearborn. Andrew Dixon won five out of seven face-offs in the fourth quarter helping his team when they needed it most.
David Stephanoff recorded 14 saves for UM-Dearborn tying his second most of the season.
Ruben Cabello scored three goals and Dylan Hatcher added two.
UM-Dearborn has two critical divisional games to end its regular season next week. It faces Lawrence Tech Wednesday at the Detroit Country Day Fieldhouse and hosts Siena Heights in its season finale Sunday.