Union College took care of one Rochester lacrosse team Wednesday.
But it’s another Rochester team that the Dutchmen seek to beat.
The 15th-ranked Dutchmen overcame a pair of three-goal, third-quarter deficits and 15 turnovers to oust 14th-ranked Nazareth, 15-12, in the first round of the NCAA Division III men’s lacrosse tournament at Frank Bailey Field.
Union (14-4) now gets to face its Liberty League nemesis, Rochester Institute of Technology, in the second round of the tournament at 1 p.m. Saturday in Rochester. The Tigers (19-0), the top seed in the tournament, routed Morrisville 24-3 on Wednesday.
The Dutchmen and Tigers will meet for the third time this season. None of the first two meetings have been close. RIT rolled to a 22-7 victory at Frank Bailey Field April 15. Last Sunday, the Tigers defeated the Dutchmen, 25-14, in the Liberty League tournament championship game in Rochester.
How tough has it been for Union to beat RIT? The Dutchmen are 0-9 against the Tigers since their last victory, an 8-3 decision on March 8, 2008.
Dutchmen coach Paul Wehrum seemed less than thrilled in having to face the Tigers for a third time. It’s also the second straight year the teams are meeting in the NCAAs. RIT pulled out an 11-6 win in last year’s quarterfinals.
“After playing them three times in a row two years in a row, it’s a little unfair,” said Wehrum who is 1-10 against RIT since becoming Union coach. “There’s Bates, and there’s Middlebury, Tufts, Cortland, Endicott, all of those teams. Let somebody else have the pleasure of playing that beast.”
Wehrum also found some humor in facing RIT for the third time this year.
“They have 20 Canadians. We’ll be checking green cards on Saturday,” Wehrum joked.
Sophomore attackman Peter Richardson, who had two goals and three assists to help the Dutchmen overcome deficits of 9-6 and 10-7 in the third, knows he and his teammates will have their hands full against RIT.
“They’re just very well-coached,” Richardson said. “They play their system really well. They don’t turn the ball over, so they capitalize every time when we turn the ball over. So that’s going to be our main focus for Saturday.”
The Tigers are averaging 18.7 goals per game. So, if Union wants to win, it must find a way to limit RIT’s offensive possessions. And that comes down to protecting the ball better.
“Especially against RIT, a team that capitalizes on all of our mistakes,” said junior attackman Nolan Stauffer, whose man-up goal with 8:29 in the fourth quarter gave Union a 13-11 lead and proved to be the game-winner.
“That’s something we’re going to have to work on, being careful [and] smarter with the ball and limit our turnovers as much as possible because the more we have the ball, the less they do. And with a power offense like that, the less they have the ball, the better.”
Sophomore midfielder Kyle Mason, whose behind-the-back goal gave Union a 12-11 advantage with 9:20 left in the game, knows it will be a tough task Saturday, but he believes the Dutchmen are primed to pull off the upset.
“We have a process that we established in the beginning of the year,” Mason said. “It’s an offense that we have to stick to. Just run our game plan, same as we did today. And it’s all [about] toughness and who wants it more.
“RIT is a very fast-playing team. They play really well in transition. Our goal is to just stop their transition and play six-on-six, where we know we can beat them.”
Rochester 3 2 6 1 — 12
Union 2 3 5 5 — 15
Rochester scoring: Dan O’Brien 3-0, Will Fallo 2-0, Luke Wooters 2-3, Troy Haefele 2-1, Jacob Gray 1-0, Matt McDermott 1-0, A.J. Small 0-1. Union scoring: Peter Richardson 2-3, Charlie Ross 2-0, Nolan Stauffer 2-0, Richard Gregory 2-0, Jack Scheufele 2-0, Paul Alberti 1-1, Tom Stanton 1-1, Kyle Mason 1-0, Adam Rosenthal 1-0, Connor Hall 1-0, Nicky Wright 0-1.
Goalies: Nazareth, Michael Cuciti, 9 saves. Union, Stefan Basile, 11 saves.
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Categories: College Sports