Reinhardt has won its third-straight NAIA championship. That’s a dynasty in my book. The Eagles stormed their way through the tournament to pick up the title, beating Aquinas 11-4. Their closest game of the tournament was a 12-8 win over Cumberlands in the semifinals. In fact, Cumberlands had given Reinhardt their best competition of the season as they are the only team to beat the Eagles this season. But, Aquinas was the deserving team of a finals berth, and so on we played!
NAIA Championship Highlights
Aquinas came ready to play, winning 61 percent of faceoffs and playing their cleanest lacrosse of the tournament with only 16 turnovers. They even kept the ground ball battle even (26-28). Considering that was the case, how did the Eagles manage to win?
fThe answer is an exceptional defense and a deflating offense. The Reinhardt defense kept the Aquinas duo of Klinsky and Rogers — who scored 17 points together in the semi-final game — to four total points on twelve shots. The stout defense included a 12-save performance from goalie Matt Webb. Simply put, the Eagles defense rarely made mistakes. And when they did they were either bailed out by Webb or the Saints converted.
Losing the face-off battle put the Eagles on defense a bit more than normal, but their ability to get the ball back and execute clears helped offset that deficit. Reinhardt was famous in the pre-shot clock era for playing a heavy-possession game on offense, a style they continue to play successfully now. The key to their success was an ability to score when needed and a keen understanding of how to take quality looks. They prodded the defense looking for weaknesses. If it got deep in the shot clock, they started to expose those weaknesses. Some programs live for scoring 20-plus per game — which Reinhardt can do too— but I think Coach Snow and company are just as happy playing a slower, more efficient offense.
Their three-straight NAIA championships think so, too.