ROCHESTER, NY – For the first time in the 46-year history of RIT men’s lacrosse, the Tigers will play for a NCAA Division III National Championship. RIT will face Stevenson University on Sunday, May 26 at 4 p.m. at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pa. in the 2013 NCAA Division III Men’s Lacrosse Championship. It is the first trip to the NCAA Championship game for both squads.
RIT advanced to the championship with a thrilling 10-9 overtime win over top-seeded and previously undefeated SUNY Cortland in the semifinals Sunday. Allister Warren (Toronto, Ontario/Malvern Collegiate Institute) and Taylor Wisman(Seattle, WA/Inglemoor) worked the Hidden ball trick play to perfection, with Warren scoring the game-winner into an open net with 1:55 to play in overtime to send the Tigers to their first championship game. Jack Krzyston (Bedford, NH/Bishop Guertin), Kyle Aquin (Hamilton, Ontario/St. Jean De Brebeuf) and Eddie Kiesa (Syracuse, NY/Jamesville-Dewitt) each had two goals for the Tigers, while Wisman dished out three assists. Tyler Brooks-Lambert (Seneca Castle, NY/Midlakes) was dominant once again at the face-off “X”, winning 15 of 21 draws, grabbing eight ground balls and scoring a goal. Pat Johnston (Norwell, MA/Norwell) picked up his 19th win of the season, making 10 saves.
RIT opened the tournament with a 22-13 win over Cabrini in the second round, then ousted Tufts 14-5 in the quarterfinals, before Sunday’s dramatic win in the semifinals. RIT has outscored its opponents 46-27 in three NCAA Tournament games this season.
The Mustangs advanced to their first-ever title game with a 12-6 win over Salisbury University in the semifinals on Sunday. Stevenson jumped out to a 5-1 first quarter lead and never looked back. Chris Dashiell and Tyler Reid each scored three goals for the Mustangs, while Dimitri Pecunes picked up the win in net, making 13 saves. Prior to Sunday, Stevenson was winless in three previous trips to the semifinals, including 0-2 versus Salisbury.
RIT comes into the title game riding a 13-game winning streak, outscoring their opponents 201-97 in that stretch. The Tigers knocked off No. 5 Cabrini, No. 6 Tufts and No. 1 Cortland en route to the title game versus Stevenson who was ranked fourth in the final USILA Division III poll. Stevenson comes in with a 10-game winning streak, outscoring their opponents 166-68 during that time.
RIT comes into Sunday ninth in Division III in scoring, averaging 14.68 goals per game. The Tigers have outscored their opponents 307-152 this season and are one goal shy of tying the record for most goals in a season, set in 2011. The Tigers have scored 10 or more goals in 18 of 21 games, and the man-up unit is tops in all of Division III, converting 42 of 74 (56.8%) chances on the season.
RIT features eight with 20 or more points, five with at least 55 or more points and two players with 70 or more points on the season. Jack Krzyston (Bedford, NH/Bishop Guertin), a USILA first team All-American, leads the team in scoring with 78 points on 51 goals and 27 assists. Krzyston, the 2013 Liberty League Offensive Player of the Year, has scored at least one point in 20 of 21 games this season, including two goals versus Cortland. Kiesa is second on the team in scoring with 71 points on 41 goals and 30 assists, while Aquin is third with 68 points on 58 goals and 10 assists. Aquin’s 58 goals is tied with Marc Heagney for fifth most in a season at RIT. Warren (36g, 22a), and Wisman (27g, 31a) are tied for fourth with 58 points apiece.
Defensively, RIT is 23rd in Division III, allowing 7.24 goals per game. Johnston, the 2013 Liberty League Defensive Player of the Year and second team All-American, is 19-2 on the season. He is 16th in Divison III with a 6.78 goals against average, and fifth nationally with a .652 save percentage. Senior defenseman and first team All-American Elliott Cowburn(Oakville, ON/Holy Trinity) leads the Tigers with 27 caused turnovers, while grabbing 68 ground balls, and freshman Matt Hossack (Port Perry, Ontario/Port Perry) has 17 caused turnovers and 47 ground balls.
Brooks-Lambert has been impressive at the face-off “X”, winning 64.1 percent of his face-offs to go along with 117 ground balls. In three NCAA Tournament games, Brooks-Lambert has won 45 of 68 (66.1%) face-offs and has 30 ground balls for the Tigers.
Stevenson comes into the championship game fifth in Division III in scoring, averaging 15.52 goals per game and has outscored its opponents 357-157 this season. The Mustangs have scored 10 or more goals in 20 of 23 games this season, while the man-up unit has scored on 41 of 133 (30.8%) of their opportunities this season.
Stevenson features eight players with 40 or more points, and three players with 60 or more points, led by Dashiell who has 85 points on 32 goals and 53 assists. Tyler Reid is second in scoring with 66 points on 51 goals and 15 assists, while Mark Pannenton is third in scoring with 64 points on 57 goals and seven assists. Peter Green is fourth with 51 points (36g, 15a) and Pat Candon is fifth with 48 points (21g, 27a).
Defensively, Stevenson is 17th in Division III, allowing 6.83 goals per game and has held its opponents to fewer than 10 goals in 18 of 23 games. Pecunes, a freshman, has seen the majority of the minutes in net this season for the Mustangs, posting a 17-1 record with a 7.21 goals against average and .577 save percentage. Callum Robinson leads the team with 33 caused turnovers and has 70 ground balls. Sam Wyatt and Brent Hiken have taken the bulk of the face-offs. Hiken is fourth in Division III winning 71.7 percent of his draws, while Wyatt is seventh at 67.7 percent.
RIT is 14-14 all time in 15 NCAA Tournament appearances, including an 8-3 mark since 2010. Overall, RIT is 68-12 since the start of the 2010 season.
Sunday’s game will be a re-match of an overtime thriller back on February 27 that Stevenson won 11-10. Pannenton scored the game winner with 1:49 to play in the overtime. RIT trailed 11-9 with 2:48 to play in regulation, before consecutive goals from Kyle Sterzin (Fairport, NY/Fairport) and Wisman tied the game at 11-11. Aquin led RIT with four goals, while Sterzin had three points on two goals and an assist. Johnston took the loss, making 12 saves. Pannenton finished with four goals, including the game winner for Stevenson. Michael Crowe, Billy Burgoyne and Matt Tompkins each had two goals for the Mustangs, while Pecunes got the win in net, making 11 saves.