Liberty League Rivals RIT and Union Headed to NCAA D-III Men's Final

FILE PHOTO BY RICH BARNES

Quinn Commandant scored five goals to help RIT score a season-26 goals in its 26-15 victory over Tufts.


Defending champion RIT is headed the NCAA Division III men’s lacrosse biggest stage for the third time since 2013, while Union is set to make its first-ever showing in the championship game.

Top-ranked and host RIT poured in a season-high 26 goals, its fourth NCAA tournament game this year with at least 20 goals, in a 26-15 victory over Tufts. Union jumped out quickly and relied on its defense in an 11-8 victory over York in Newport News, Va.

Union has a storied lacrosse history dating to 1925 and shared the USILA national championship in 1929 with Navy, but is aiming to break new ground in its recent history against its Liberty League rival. It appears to be a daunting task — RIT has won 20 straight games against Union — but the last four games have been decided by two goals or less, including a 14-13 RIT win in the regular season on April 9.

Union played from behind most of that game, something that did not happen on Sunday. The Dutchmen scored the first six goals of the game against York and led 8-1 late in the first half, but had to withstand a second-half rally by the Spartans.

York strung together four straight goals in the second half, pulling within 9-7 on Eric Ranck’s goal with 12:20 left. Union, which had managed just one goal over the previous 24 minutes, got a clutch goal from Zach Davis with 9:52 left and then Peter Burnes got an insurance tally with 2:12 to play to help seal the win.

Union goalie Dan Donahue had a huge game with 16 saves, including seven stops in the fourth quarter to help the Dutchmen’s early scoring burst stand up.

Nine different players scored goals for Union (18-2) with Burnes and Hayden Frey leading the way with two each.

Ben Mayer and Will Harnick each scored twice for York, which finished the season 20-3.







RIT also used a strong start to earn its trip to the championship game. The Tigers scored a staggering 10 goals in less than 10 minutes to open the game against Tufts.

Freshman Clifford Gaston scored four of his career-high seven goals in RIT’s dominating first quarter and Luke Pilcher tied his career-high with seven goals in the game while adding two assists to lead the RIT assault.

After falling behind 10-1, Tufts went on a five-goal run to get back within four goals, but RIT bridged halftime with a six-goal run to stretch the lead and never stopped scoring.

Jack Boyden led Tufts with six goals and Mac Bredahl had two goals and four assists. Mason Kohn won 18 of 27 faceoffs for the Jumbos (19-3).

Drew Hutchison made 12 saves while allowing 11 goals to earn the win in goal for RIT (21-1).

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