Tigers Capture 3rd Straight Liberty League Title

Posted at: 05/04/2014 11:35 PM
Updated at: 05/04/2014 11:38 PM

ROCHESTER, NY – For the third straight year the RIT (18-0) men's lacrosse team sits atop the Liberty League Conference. The top-ranked Tigers defeated second-seeded Union College, (13-3) 13-11 in the title game Sunday afternoon at Tiger Stadium. The Tigers win their fifth straight conference title overall and third straight Liberty League Championship, earning the automatic berth into the NCAA Division III Tournament.

"We knew it was going to be a battle today," said RIT head coach Jake Coon. "They are a great team, and we knew it would come down to making some big plays, and we made them at the critical part of the game."

Junior goalie Pat Johnston (Long Beach, CA/Norwell (MA)) was named Tournament MVP, picking up his 13th win of the season for the Tigers, making 11 saves in the title game. 

Krzyston, an All-Tournament Team selection, led RIT with four points on three goals and an assist. Warren finished with four points on two goals and two assists, while Kyle Aquin (Hamilton, Ontario/St. Jean De Brebeuf) scored three goals. Ryan Lee (Sharon, Ontario/The Hill Academy) scored two goals, and Brooks-Lambert dished out a pair of assists.

Matt Hossack (Port Perry, Ontario/Port Perry) scored a goal, grabbed seven ground balls, and caused three turnovers for the Tigers. Baird Wilber (Penn Yan, NY/Penn Yan Academy), Krzyston, and Joe Dupra (Pittsford, NY/Pittsford Mendon) combined to cause five turnovers. Brooks-Lambert won 16-of-27 face-offs and had nine ground balls.

All-Tournament team selection Rob Santangelo led Union with four points on two goals and two assists.  Nolan Stauffer and Jake Quinn each had a pair of goals, while Richard Gregory, Dan Caiola, Paul Alberti and Tom Stanton each had a goal. Stefan Basile took the loss in goal for the Dutchmen, making 13 saves.

Union took an early lead when Quinn got passed his defender and beat Johnston for his tenth goal of the season, giving the Dutchmen the 1-0 advantage.

The Tigers responded with three straight goals to close out the first quarter, taking a 3-1 lead on Hossack's goal off a feed from Kyle Sterzin (Fairport, NY/Fairport) with 0.1 seconds to play in the first quarter. Aquin scored the other two Tigers goals, the first off a feed from Braden Wallace (Oakville, Ontario/Abbey Park), and the second off a pass from Jackson.

Union came right back and opened the second quarter with a pair of goals, tying the score at 3-3 on Alberti's fifth goal of the season off a feed from Santangelo. Sands opened the scoring with a blistering shot into the top corner off a fast break attempt for the Dutchmen.

 RIT ended the first half with a patented run, scoring five straight goals to close out the half leading 8-3. Wisman scored off a nice feed from Krzyston at 8:27, and Krzyston scored off a feed from Warren at 6:47 giving RIT a 5-3 lead. Warren sandwiched a pair of goals around an Aquin goal to close out the half strong for the Tigers.

Consecutive goals from Santangelo and Stanton to open the third quarter, pulled the Dutchmen to within three goals at 8-5. Santangelo twisted and spun his way free and beat Johnston with a good hard shot cutting the RIT lead down to 8-4. Stanton's goal at 11:09 of the third quarter was his ninth of the season and cut the RIT lead to three goals at 8-5.

RIT broke the Union momentum with two straight goals at 10:53 and 5:36 respectively, taking a 10-5 lead on Krzyston's second goal of the game.

After a Stauffer goal cut the RIT lead to 10-6, Ryan Lee (Sharon, Ontario/The Hill Academy) scored just six seconds later on the fast break off the ensuing face-off win from Brooks-Lambert, giving RIT an 11-6 advantage.

The Dutchmen made a run in the fourth quarter, tallying the first three goals, cutting RIT's lead to 11-9 on Santangelo's goal at 10:09. Stauffer opened the scoring with his goal at 14:08, and Quinn made it 11-8 RIT with his goal at 12:39.

Lee and Brooks-Lambert hooked up again a mere five seconds after the Santangelo goal giving RIT a 12-9 lead. Lee took the feed from Brooks-Lambert and ripped a shot into the top corner for his second of the game and 42nd of the season. Krzyston added an unassisted goal at 7:49 to give the Tigers a 13-9 lead.

"That win by Tyler (Brooks-Lambert) after they just scored and the quick goal was huge for us," said Coon. "We are always confident with him out there at the face-off "X" for us, and he came through with a big win in a tight spot."
Union made it 13-10 on Gregory's unassisted goal at 7:49, and Caiola made it 13-11 RIT on his second goal of the season at 5:53.

The Dutchmen had the ball with two minutes to play in regulation, but and errant pass by Peter Richardson gave the ball back to the Tigers who were able to run out the clock for the win.

The Tigers have now won 28 straight games at home dating back to the 2012 season. RIT is 6-0 all-time in Liberty League Tournament games and 23-1 against league foes since joining three years ago. RIT has now scored 305 goals this season, outscoring its opponents, 305-151, and scored at least 10 goals in a game for the 17th time this season.

"We have to be ready for the NCAA Tournament," said Coon. "Our guys have to play a full 60 minutes to advance."

The Tigers, a perfect 18-0 on the season, will await their opponent in the 2014 NCAA Division III Men's Lacrosse Championship.