Another strong start meets another upsetting loss. For the second game in a row, the Castleton men’s lacrosse team dropped a game they led at halftime. Both games were 9-8 losses, the most recent coming Saturday at Spartan Stadium at the hands of rival Plymouth State University in the home opener for the Spartans.Castleton came out flying, taking a 3-0 lead at the end of the first quarter, with attackman Kenny Bourneuf striking twice for his first two scores of the season. Fellow attackman Alex Green sent home his sixth while killing a man-down opportunity for the Panthers.

Green struck again on a man-up midway through the second quarter, while Plymouth added its first three scores. Castleton went into halftime with a 4-3 lead.

“We definitely came out strong,” Castleton coach Brian Kingsbury said. “I don’t know what happened in the second half.”

Castleton attackman Nohea King opened up the scoring in the third quarter with his fourth of the season, but it was all Panthers, who rattled off four-straight goals and won the quarter 4-2. Green sent home his eighth goal and third of the game with eight ticks left in the period.

Kingsbury said the Castleton defense had created many opportunities for the Plymouth offense.

“We didn’t clear the ball that well and we had a lot of turnovers,” Kingsbury said. “But we won the faceoff battle which was good.”

The fourth quarter was the same for the Spartans, who finished the game with an alarming 41 turnovers to Plymouth’s 29. The Panthers outshot the Spartans 9-to-6 in the fourth quarter and 36-to-18 on the game. Castleton goalie Dave DeGhetto managed to hold Plymouth to just one goal and after Green’s ninth of the season and fourth of the game, the Spartans were down just 8-7.

Castleton long-stick midfielder Alex Brands made a play for the ages with a minute to go in regulation. Brands was taken one-on-one by a Plymouth player and he through a one-handed wrap check with the six-foot-long defensive stick which jarred the ball lose.

“His stick was so far out to the side,” recalled Brands, who played short-stick midfield last season. “There was no other way to do it. I used my shortie instincts and went for the wrap.”

Brands picked up the lose ball and sprinted for open fieldturf until switching the stick from his right hand to his dominant left handed grip and ripped a shot using all the momentum of the six-foot-long pole to tie it at 8-8.

Brands said that he felt relieved that he scored and tied it up.

“I was just glad the whole shift was over,” he said. “It was exahausting.”

The plan was to try and get a faceoff win and hold the ball for the final shot for the Spartans. Plymouth had other plans.

“We were trying to set up something for a game-winner, but obviously that didn’t happen,” Kingsbury said.

Castleton midfielder A.J. Groot was streaking to the net when he was trail-checked by Plymouth defender Justin Dube. Justin Vercruysse corralled the lose ball dished it to Andrew Ericksen who snapped a full-field pass to an unmarked Stephen Patch. Patch put away his first of the season with two seconds remaining to defeat Castleton.

“It was a team we should have beaten, and we beat ourselves,” Kingsbury said.

Kingsbury also added that they needed to learn from the game before they move forward. The Spartans a have a tough opponent in Colby tomorrow at Spartan Stadium, weather permitting.

The Spartans fall to 0-3, while Plymouth improves to 2-1.

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