HENNIKER, N.H. – Trailing 9-8 midway through the fourth, Castleton sophomore Taylor Swarter came up with back-to-back goals in 67 seconds to put the Spartans in front for good as they held off a feisty New England College squad 12-9 on Wednesday evening.
Swarter put home his first goal of the game following a saved Zach Davidson shot to tie the game 9-9 at 7:05. Just 1:07 later the sophomore was then the beneficiary of a nice feed from Davidson on a man-up opportunity to give Castleton 10-9 lead.
The victory put the Spartans in sole possession of first place in the North Atlantic Conference as they improve to 6-0 in conference play and 9-5 overall while the Pilgrims drop to 5-1 in the NAC and 10-3 on the season.
It was a balanced scoring attack as four players scored at least two goals, led by Davidson with four scores and two helpers for six points. Alex Green added three goals and two assists while Swarter finished with four points on two goals and two assists. Defensively, Owen Hartman was a force with eight ground balls and thee caused turnovers.
Skyler Saunders had a goal and an assist for NEC while the nation's second-leading scorer Adam Shute was limited to two goals on only two shots. Defensively, Pat Miles caused seven turnovers while picking up five ground balls.
Will Shuler gave the Spartans a 1-0 lead just 2:09 into the contest and Davidson made it 2-0 at 6:16. The defense held strong and in the final seconds a scrambling Louis Alhage found Davidson on the right side of the net and he finished the pass with just a second left on the clock.
Castleton pushed its lead to 4-0 on a goal by Green at 11:37 and Alhage picked up a ground ball and fired a shot home for the 5-0 advantage with 6:59 left in the half. The Pilgrims came storming back with three goals in the final three minutes of the period to cut the score to 5-3 at the break.
In the third Stuhler ended the NEC run with a goal and Green followed with a score off a Davidson feed at 12:21 for the 7-3 advantage. Zach Davidson extended the lead to 8-3 with 10:21 left but the Pilgrims came back with four goals over the next nine minutes to cut the deficit to just 8-7.
Williams Pendleton tied the game up with 12:48 left in the fourth on a man-up situation and off the ensuing faceoff, NEC picked up and ball and Miles connected on the go-ahead score with 12:32 remaining.
Trailing by one, Swarter's game-tying goal came five minutes later and then in a man-up situation he put Castleton in front with 5:58 left. Just 30 later Swarter found Green for the 11-9 lead and Davidson finished off the scoring with 3:16 remaining in regulation.
Sophomore Peter Latulippe made 13 saves and allowed seven goals to earn the win, though NEC did score twice while he had to sit out due to a penalty in the third. Chris Galluzzo took the loss despite making 16 saves.
Green's five points on the day give him 204 for his career, becoming just the third player in program history, along with Geoff Simons and Zach Davidson, to surpass the 200-point plateau. The senior is already ranked second all-time in Castleton history with 143 career goals.
The Spartans return to action on Saturday when they host Maine Maritime at noon in Spartan Stadium.