Cardinals win season opener for fifth straight year

Cardinals win season opener for fifth straight year

FREDERICK, Md. - CUA won its fifth consecutive season opener on Saturday, downing Hood 7-3.  The Cardinals led by just one at halftime, but broke things open with a 3-0 third quarter.  Brendan Englert led the way offensively with four goals, while Patrick Pfaff stopped 14 shots in goal to earn the win.

The teams took time during the early going to get into a rhythm, but with 3:40 remaining in the opening quarter, Englert broke the drought and scored CUA's first goal of the 2012 season.  The score came following a Hood penalty at the four-minute mark.

With under a minute to go in the first, Englert made it 2-0 when he beat Blazers goal keeper William Lane for his second score.

Just over 30 seconds into the second quarter, Chris Fuccillo took a pass from Tyler Catalani and found the back of the net for a 3-0 Cardinals advantage.

CUA's defense did a terrific job during the first half, limiting Hood to just a single goal, which came with only 57 seconds to play before halftime, when Scott Thompson scored.

Pfaff finished with eight first half saves, including five in the second quarter.

Early in the third quarter, CUA began to break the game open when Englert completed the hat trick with his third score at the 13:49 mark, to make it a 4-1 game.

The CUA sophomore then scored his fourth goal of the afternoon with 12:11 to play in the quarter, extending the Cardinal lead to four.

With 2:57 to play in the quarter, CUA was whistled for a penalty, but it didn't seem to faze the Cardinals, as Marc Saxton took a feed from Jack Firriolo and scored a man-down goal.  That put CUA comfortably in front 6-1 after three quarters.

Trey Freeman's goal early in the fourth brought the Blazers to within 6-2, and James Weger's score with 9:18 to play cut the CUA lead in half, but that was as close as the Cardinals would allow the game to get.

Fuccillo scored with 2:46 remaining in the game to ice the win for CUA and begin the Cardinals' season on a high note.

CUA outshot the Blazers by 10, 46-36, and the Cardinals finished with a 58-45 advantage in ground balls.  CUA was successful on 22 of 27 clear attempts, while Hood finished 20 of 34.

Fuccillo (12) and Englert (9) led CUA in shots, while Ryan Doyle was the team leader in ground balls with seven.  Tom Scotto went 7 of 13 at the X, and Jack Drexel caused five turnovers.

Mark Fluta and Lane finished with eight ground balls apiece to lead the home team, and Lane sent back 17 shots in goal.

The Cardinals remain on the road for their next game, when they travel to Hampden-Sydney on Tuesday afternoon.  The opening face-off is set for 4 p.m.