ROCHESTER, N.Y (WROC) — The RIT men’s lacrosse team is undefeated heading into the NCAA quarterfinals. They were ranked number one for four weeks this season and have been in the top three all year long.
Could this finally be the year they go all the way and win the national championship?
Over the last ten years, the Tigers have made the semifinals three times and the championship game twice. But this team might have what it takes to get over the hump.
In the second round of the NCAA tournament, the Tigers trounced Cortland 25-6 to make it to the quarterfinals.
“The guys really came out and put their potential on display,” said head coach Jake Coon. “They have it in them, they know they have it in them, it’s just a matter of coming out and playing loose.”
The semifinals could be clash of undefeated teams as RIT and Tufts appear destined for a matchup on Sunday. But first, the Tigers must beat Colorado College and Tufts has to take care of York.
“We’ve just got to make sure that we’re aware that Colorado College is a very capable team and we can go home on Saturday if we don’t get it done,” said senior midfielder Nick Montemorano, a Victor grad. “We’re doing our best to stay focused on the first opponent and make sure we take care of business.”
Coon says that this year’s team has the mental toughness to take on whatever challenges they’ll face the rest of the way.
“The physical piece, the skill piece, that stuff is there. It’s a matter of keeping our mental piece in check,” said Coon. “Focusing on ourselves, focusing on our effort, focusing on what we bring to the table versus letting all the outside stuff affect us.”
The NCAA tournament has a different format this year, with the quarterfinals and semifinals being played on back-to-back days. That’s meant a difficult week of preparation.
Coon had the team start preparing for a potential semifinal matchup earlier in the week before shifting their attention to Colorado College later in the week.
“Going into it blind is not something I’m comfortable with and I hope we’ve prepared them enough in the short time that we have,” he said.
Blocking out the noise, the message boards, social media, and the rankings is something the Tigers have been focused on all season long.
If they end the season lifting a championship trophy, they won’t need anyone to tell them where they stand.