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RIT Cruise to NCAA Final Four
By News 8
The No. 1 RIT (20-0) men's lacrosse team advanced to the NCAA Division III Semifinals for the second straight straight season, third time in four years and seventh time overall with an 11-6 win over No. 9 Union College (15-4) in Wednesday's NCAA Tournament Quarterfinal from Tiger Stadium. With today's win, RIT sets a new single-season school record with 20 victories. RIT won 19 games in 2011 and 2013.
The game was delayed by 30 minutes before the start due to lightning in the area. The two teams played through a driving downpour for a good chunk of the third quarter and ended under threatening skies.
RIT will play Tufts this weekend in the semifinals at RIT. It is the fourth straight season the Tigers have faced the Jumbos in the NCAA Tournament. In 2011, Tufts ended RIT's season with a 16-12 win in the national semifinals on RIT's Turf Field. In 2012, Tufts defeated RIT, 15-13 in the quarterfinals. Last year, The Tigers defeated the Jumbos by a score of 14-5 in the quarterfinals from Tiger Stadium. The winner advances to the National Championship Game on Sunday, May 25 at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Md. RIT is 16-15 all-time in NCAA Tournament play, having made 16 appearances.
Junior goalie Pat Johnston was outstanding in net for the Tigers, making a career-high 24 saves. It was the most saves in a game for a RIT goalie since Chris James made 32 saves versus Nazareth in 2001. Johnston made 17 of his 24 saves in the second half, as Union out-shot the Tigers 34-17 over that span.
"(Pat) Johnston was awesome today," said RIT head coach Jake Coon, who improved to 88-13 in five seasons. "He made some huge saves that gave our team a lot of confidence."
Union outshot RIT 50-43. RIT won the ground ball battle 38-35 and were 24-of-25 on clearing attempts. RIT won just 9-of-20 face-offs, and went 1-of-3 on man-up chances, while Union finished with four goals on eight man-up chances.
Four different Tigers scored two goals, led by Casey Jackson and Kyle Aquin who each had two goals and an assist. Jack Krzyston and Eddie Kiesa each had two goals, while Matt Hossack had a goal and an assist to go along with six ground balls and three caused turnovers. Allister Warren and Alec Sulesky each scored, and Mac Keehfus dished out an assist.
RIT scored 10 or more goals in a game for the 19th time this season. RIT is averaging 16.8 goals per game in 2014, tallying a single-season school mark with 336 goals.
Tyler Brooks-Lambert went 9-of-20 on face-offs, with seven ground balls. Sophomore defenseman Jay Krzyston caused two turnovers, while Keehfus and Brad Gillies each had three ground balls.
RIT jumped out to a 4-0 lead after the first quarter on goals from Krzyston, Sulesky, Kiesa and Hossack. Krzyston gave the Tigers a 1-0 lead on his 21st goal of the season. He scooped up a loose ball in front of the Union net and scored in the open net. Sulesky scored off a feed from Hossack at 7:27, making it 2-0 RIT. Kiesa swung around the net and scored at 3:40, and Hossack scored off a feed from Keehfus 14 seconds later.
The Tigers scored the first three goals of the second quarter, taking an 7-0 lead on a goal by Warren off a feed from Jackson. Jackson opened the scoring in the second quarter, scoring off a pass from Aquin. Aquin made it 6-0 RIT on his 40th tally of the season off a feed from Sterzin at 10:25.
Union finally got on the scoreboard at 8:49 of the second quarter when Jonathan Andrews tallied off a feed from Richard Gregory. It was the longest scoring drought to open a game of the season for the Dutchmen, as they were held scoreless for the first 21:11. Charlie Ross made it 7-2 RIT with his 20th goal of the season at 5:39 off another feed from Gregory.
RIT ended the first half on Kiesa's second goal of the game, giving the Tigers an 8-2 halftime lead.
Krzyston opened the second half scoring with his second of the game off another loose ball in front of the Union net, giving RIT a 9-2 lead. Peter Richardson tallied a man-up goal at 13:03 off a feed from Nolan Stauffer, cutting the Tigers lead to 9-3. Jackson netted his second of the game and 53rd of the season at 10:19 of the third quarter, increasing the RIT lead to 10-3.
After a Tom Stanton goal made it 10-4 RIT, Aquin got around his defender and scored with a sweet shot with 1:40 left in the third quarter, giving the Tigers an 11-4 lead.
Union tallied the only two goals of the fourth quarter, both on the man-up and had a third disallowed due to faulty equipment. Paul Alberti made it 11-5 RIT with his seventh goal of the season off a feed from Rob Santangelo with 9:21 left. Daniel Kycia scored off a feed from Richardson 28 seconds later on the man-up. Santangelo ripped a tough angle shot that stung the top corner for what appeared to be the seventh goal of the game for the Dutchmen. But, the head of his stick came off the shaft, thereby nullifying the goal.
Richardson and Gregory led Union with two points apiece. Richardson had a goal and an assist, while Gregory dished out a pair of assists. Stefan Basile, the 2014 Liberty League Defensive Player of the Year, was outstanding in net for Union, making 14 saves.
RIT is now 13-3 all time versus Union, including three victories this season. RIT defeated the Dutchmen 8-7 on April 16, and 13-11 in the Liberty League Championship on May 5. Union held the Tigers to just 32 goals in the three games this year.
RIT has now won 30 straight home contests and is 74-7 over the last four years.