HENRIETTA, N.Y. (WROC) — After winning their elusive first national championship last year, the RIT men’s lacrosse team is back in the title game ready to do it again.
The Tigers are headed back to Connecticut to take on Liberty League rivals Union on Sunday afternoon.
This is the fourth time the Tigers have played made it to the final game of the DIII tournament and it’s an accomplishment not lost on head coach Jake Coon.
“Any time you can get this opportunity, you better take advantage of it, you better appreciate it,” said the team’s head coach since 2010. “This is not something that happens every year. This is something you have to put a lot of hard work, dedication, commitment, sweat, tears, everything into, and once the opportunity is in front of you you gotta take advantage of it.”
The Tigers have rolled through the tournament so far, winning all but one of their games by ten or more goals. That lone single-digit win was a 20-14 victory over Bowdoin in the quarterfinals where they led 18-6 at the start of the fourth quarter before taking their foot off the gas pedal.
“We kind of have the attitude that ahead of us are kind of obstacles in our way of reaching our end goals so we come in super dialed in mentally and I think that’s been a huge edge for us,” said senior midfielder Andrew Powlin, a Penfield grad. “That’s been a huge edge for us kind of just being supremely confident, not cocky, and treating every team the same and knowing that we can perform on a big stage.”
In the regular season, RIT topped their instate rivals 14-13. The Tigers know that they’re going to get a fight from the Dutchmen, who are seeking their first championship.
“They always play us very well,” said senior attack Spencer Bell, a Fairport alum. “We know each other very well so it’s going to be just a dog fight, who can get ground balls, turnovers.”
The DIII lacrosse record books are lined with repeat champions and dynasties. On Sunday, the Tigers will get the chance to add themselves to that elite company.
“To think that we could leave with two national championships is an amazing feeling,” said Powlin. “It’s a privilege to be able to go play and spend this weekend with these guys in a great atmosphere and have another great week.”
“We’ve had some opportunities throughout the course of the years,” said Coon. “Last year it was great to cap off but really nice to be back for another opportunity. Anytime you get the chance and the opportunity it’s a privilege and it’s certainly something these guys have earned.”
The Tigers and Dutchmen will square off on Sunday, May 29th at 1:00 p.m. in East Hartford, Connecticut.