Sal Tuttle nets game-winner for Adelphi with 6.3 seconds left

Adelphi's Salvatore Tuttle, left, gets congratulated by teammate
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Adelphi's Salvatore Tuttle, left, gets congratulated by teammate Sean McCann after scoring the game-winning goal with 6.3 seconds remaining in the fourth period of the NCAA Division II men's lacrosse quarterfinals versus Dowling College at Motamed Field on May 10, 2014.(Credit: James Escher)

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He was known as Sal Tuttle when he starred in football and basketball at Farmingdale High School. At Adelphi, he usually goes by Salvatore. But his teammates and coaches have another name for the Panthers' energetic sophomore: "Clutch."

Tuttle, who is never subtle when it comes to shooting, rolled to his left to shake free for the game-winning goal with 6.3 seconds left last night as host and top-seeded Adelphi defeated Dowling, 8-7, in an exciting Division II men's lacrosse NCAA Tournament quarterfinal before a packed house at Motamed Field.

"He has the clutch gene," said Adelphi goalie Aidan Bennardo, who also delivered some big moments with 14 saves.

"He's been clutch all year for us," Adelphi coach Gordon Purdie said of Tuttle, who scored the game-winner last Saturday in overtime against Merrimack College in the NE-10 final. Tuttle, who scored three goals on nine shots last night and leads the team with 184 shots and 55 goals, wound up with the ball in his stick with about 20 seconds left. "It was the right time for him. His strength is getting to the cage."

Adelphi (17-1) will host rival LIU Post in an NCAA Tournament semifinal game May 18, with the winner playing for the D-II national championship on May 25 in Baltimore. Dowling finished 12-5, but definitely put a scare into the Panthers.

The Golden Lions roared to a 3-0 advantage in the first quarter before Tuttle got things rolling for Adelphi on an unassisted goal with 1:53 left in the opening period. That launched a 7-0 run that appeared to put the Panthers in command at 7-3 with 3:04 left in the third quarter. Adelphi seemed unaffected by a 45-minute lighting delay that stretched the halftime break by 35 minutes.

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But then Dowling began another streak, this one a 4-0 burst. Tom Cleary (Comsewogue) scored two of his three goals in the fourth including the tying tally with 4:52 left. Bennardo (Cuthogue/St. Anthony's) and Frank Sommers (Brookhaven/Floyd), who had 11 saves, each came up with big stops late.

Adelphi regained possession with 57.8 seconds left and Purdie called time to set up a play. "It wasn't for Sal. It was move the ball, find the right matchup," the coach said.

That turned out to be Tuttle. "It can get a little stressful," Bennardo said. "We rotate some of the best defensemen in the country, especially Wayne Marx , who likes to call himself 'young money.' And Sal . . . he's just clutch."

Add another name for Tuttle: Just call him 'money.'

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