The RIT Tigers win their second National Championship in lacrosse program history with a 12-10 victory over the Union Dutchmen. The two teams had met earlier in the season at RIT where the Tigers came out on top 14-13 in a tight battle. RIT was the favorite in the game based on their highly skilled and deep roster, along with their high flying style of play. However, the Dutchmen obliterated the Tigers at the faceoff X in their last meeting and looked poised to have a chance to use that to their advantage to slow down RIT.
The Tigers fan base was rightfully worried heading into halftime as Union had heavily controlled the pace of play in the first half and were looking like they could stop the Tigers journey to two National Championships in a row. However the offense came alive in the second half scoring eight unanswered goals following the Union 7-2 lead and shutting out the Dutchmen in the third quarter. Drew Hutchinson stood tall in net and found his groove during the third quarter run and was easily my MVP of the game only allowing two goals in the second half.
This game was a tough pill to swallow for the Union Dutchmen. With an early 7-2 lead coming from a six-goal run. The controlled gameplay was successful but not maintainable against the potent gunslinging up and down offense of the RIT lacrosse program. With a third quarter stall of their offense, the Dutchmen left the door open for the full power of RIT’s four cylinder engine of an offense to rev up to speed and go for the knockout blow in the third quarter. The attack line had troubles all afternoon with hitting the cage and it came to haunt them in the second half. Although this loss will sting for Coach Witheford, he has a very solid group who will be poised to make another run in the years to come.
The first quarter couldn’t have been better for Union. Between dominating at the faceoff X and a controlling time of possession, Union was able to stifle RIT’s high volume offense. The Dutchmen capped off the quarter off by two goals in the last minute including a buzzer beater goal with two seconds remaining in the period from Peter Burns.
The second quarter began with a goal from RIT’s Clifford Gaston on the man-up, but from that point on it was once again all Union. The Dutchmen went on a four-goal run from four different goal scorers to extend their lead to five at 7-2. However late in the quarter, RIT’s John Mozrall came alive late in the half to score two goals just over a minute apart from one another to bring the score at half to 7-4.
After one half with only a three-goal lead, the game was going exactly as planned for the Union Dutchmen and head coach Derek Witheford. Dominate faceoff play along with a slow progressing offensive mindset has given the Dutchmen the perfect storm needed to take down the high flying Tigers offense. But could they keep containing the Tigers into the second half?
Marley Angus and Spencer Bell of RIT started off the scoring in the second half for the Tigers with two goals to bring the deficit to one in the first five minutes of the half. Quinn Commandant would then tie it at 7-7 with a signature RIT fast break goal with seven minutes to go in the quarter, he would then take the lead with an outside howitzer with a minute left in the quarter. RIT awoke in the third quarter with a four-goal run tagged onto the two goals at the end of the half, RIT captured momentum and took the lead heading into the final period. Drew Hutchinson stood tall with a third quarter shutout.
RIT continued their spurt into the forth with goals from Marley Angus and Ryan Barnable to extend the lead to 10-7. Union would break the scoring drought with 11:26 on the clock with a goal from Hayden Frey. The goal from Union did not stop RIT however, they picked right back up where they left off with a man up goal from Luke Pilcher. The two teams would exchange blows through the meat of the fourth quarter with the score sitting at 12-9 in RIT’s favor with five minutes remaining. Union would get 2 separate man-up opportunities inside four minutes but was unable to find twine on either. Union would tack on one more goal but it would only be a formality en route to RIT’s back-to-back lacrosse titles.
Attack – Quinn Commandant (3G, 1A)
Midfield – Marley Angus (2G, 2A)
Defense – Brett Naylor (6 GB)
Goalie – Drew Hutchinson (16 saves)