Union men’s lacrosse pulls away for NCAA tournament second-round win

Union College's Peter Burnes scores against John Carroll University goalie Johnny Wilson III while coming down on defender Cam Cercere in the second quarter of Saturday's NCAA men's lacrosse second round game at Union College's Frank Bailey Field.

Union College's Peter Burnes scores against John Carroll University goalie Johnny Wilson III while coming down on defender Cam Cercere in the second quarter of Saturday's NCAA men's lacrosse second round game at Union College's Frank Bailey Field.

SCHENECTADY — The Union College men’s lacrosse team reaffirmed Saturday that the act of pulling away is a group effort.

Ahead of John Carroll 4-3 about halfway through the first quarter, the Dutchmen got contributions from their offense and defense, and stretched the lead all the way to a 14-7 win in the second round of the Division III men’s lacrosse tournament at Frank Bailey Field.

Union (15-2) will host Western New England, which beat Lynchburg 14-10, in a third-round game at 3 p.m. Sunday.

Union started an important 4-0 run with one of several situationally aware goals by Peter Burnes. Unmarked when taking the ball out behind the goal, he sprinted to the goal, avoided the desperation check of John Carroll goalie Johnny Wilson III and shot it into the net to make it a 5-3 lead with 5:35 left in the first quarter.

After Union made it 6-3 on a Kieran McGovern goal, the Dutchmen closed the first quarter with another heads-up tally. The play started with five seconds left, and Hayden Frey spotted a cutting Keaton McCann, who caught his defender flat-footed, in front of the crease, and McCann stuffed it in with two seconds left.

Burnes scored the second of his three goals off a fast break with 12:32 left in the second to make it 8-3.

Meanwhile, Union’s faceoff tandem of Matthew Paolatto and Sam Byrne were winning draws, and its defense was settling into the game plan and managing to slow down Matt Berdysiak and Brendan Whitty. Berdysiak entered the game with 72 goals and nine assists, but was held to one goal. Whitty entered with 18 goals and 56 assists, but was held to a goal and two assists.

“We needed a couple of trials to figure out what we were going to do and how we needed to react to that,” Union defenseman Ryan Puglisi said. “We did a pretty good job after the first couple of goals.

“We kind of just got back to our game plan,” Puglisi added. “We knew what they wanted to do. We were giving them a little too many goals than we wanted to, and not sticking to our defensive principles as well as we should have that first quarter — leaving a couple guys open on the crease, not sliding when we needed to, not pressing the guys we wanted to going into the game. But once we fixed some of that stuff, we turned it around. A couple of saves that period was helpful, for sure.”

The third quarter was mostly saves by both goalies, but Union outscored the Blue Streaks 3-0, including another late goal by McCann, who came around the goal and backhanded one in to close the third with a 13-4 Union lead.

“It was great, that’s what we want to see at the end of the season, is us playing smart, intelligent, situational lacrosse,” Union coach Derek Witheford said. 

“That’s something we have preached throughout the year is to be able to manage the end of the quarter and take whatever lead you have into the next quarter or next half,” McGovern said. “So to get those goals at the end of the quarter is certainly a huge boost to the team for morale and to keep momentum in our direction.”

The comfortable lead allowed Union to rest its starters and frequent players, with reserves largely handling the final 11 minutes. The quick turnaround isn’t a big concern to Witheford.

“On a hot day like this, it was great to get a little bit of rest, and hopefully it can pay off tomorrow. The other team’s going through it as well. I know they’re prepared for it,” Witheford said of his players.

Burnes finished with three goals and one assist. McCann had three goals, while Brian Davis and McGovern each finished with two goals and one assist. Dan Donahue made 11 saves.

John Carroll coach Joe Rautenstrauch came away impressed with the Dutchmen.

“I thought our guys played real hard,” Rautenstrauch said. “We knew the effort level we had to put in to compete with a team like this. Union’s a national championship contender. I think they kind of proved that this year with who they’ve beaten and played with.”

John Carroll 3 1 0 3 — 7

Union 7 3 3 1 — 14

John Carroll scoring: Hack 3-0, Whitty 1-2, Morrell 1-1, Flynn 1-1, Berdysiak 1-0, Gorenflo 0-1. Union scoring: Burnes 3-1, McCann 3-0, B.Davis 2-1, McGovern 2-1, Paolatto 1-1, Humphrey 1-1, J.Donahue 1-0, Z.Davis 1-0, Kip 0-1, Belluche 0-1, Frey 0-1. Goalies: John Carroll, Wilson III, 21 saves. Union, D.Donahue, 11 saves; Karaska, 0 saves.


Wesleyan jumped out to a 13-6 halftime lead and hung on for a 19-14 second-round win over RPI.

The Cardinals led 15-8 in the third quarter, but the Engineers eventually closed the gap to two, 16-14, with 4:55 remaining.

Trey Froehlich led RPI (10-6) with four goals and one assist. Ryan Raftery added three goals and an assist, with Tyler Nalls also scoring three goals.

RPI 1 5 4 4 — 14

Wesleyan 5 8 2 4 — 19

RPI scoring: Froehlich 4-1, Raftery 3-1, Nalls 3-0, Murphy 1-2, Glosner 1-1,Boyko 1-0, Volley 1-0, Mazzella 0-2, Urban 0-2, Zoldi 0-2. Wesleyan scoring: Hazard 4-2, Dixon 3-1, Gill 3-1, Sexton 2-2, Campbell 2-1, Moynihan 2-0, Giancola 1-1, Larsen 1-0, Leachman 1-0, Jean 0-1, Robbins 0-1, Shull 0-1. Goalies: RPI, Perry, 10 saves. Wesleyan, Hanley, 8 saves.

Categories: -Sports-, College Sports, Union College

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