Although this team is several generations removed from the powerhouse teams of the 1950s, the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute men’s lacrosse team understands its storied past, and hopes to return to glory when the Engineers host Middlebury in today’s NCAA Division III tournament second-round game at East Campus Stadium.
Game time is 2 p.m. Tickets are $5 for adults, $3 for students and senior citizens and $1 for children under 12.
The Engineers, ranked 12th in the nation, are 14-2, while the Panthers, ranked 13th, are 12-5. The winner advances to the national quarterfinals on Wednesday.
This will be the third appearance in the NCAA tournament at the Division III level. The Engineers lost to Washington College, 15-6, in 2000, and advanced to the quarterfinals in 2001 before losing to Nazareth, 15-14.
But RPI won the national championship in 1952 before the current divisional structure was created.
“They know the history,” said RPI head coach Jim Townsend. “We definitely talk about history all the time. Ned Harkness, who coached that national championship team, died two years ago, but when he was alive, he came and talked to the kids in the program about what it used to be like. Our kids know. We have alums around all the time.
“Last year, we felt like we didn’t live up to the expectations of the program. It was one of our worst years. We had a 6-8 record and didn’t make the conference tournament for the first time ever. But the kids came back really hungry, and they bought into everything we were doing. This is a selfless team where everyone accepts his role. They come to practice every day ready to compete.”
RPI, which set a school record for wins in a season, lost to Middlebury, 9-6, on April 20 in Troy, but the Engineers, who have won eight of their last nine, have one of the stingiest defenses in Division III, allowing just 5.6 goals per game, second in the nation.
Much of the reason for the defensive success is freshman James Manchester of Niskayuna, who leads the nation in goals against average (5.44) and ranked fifth in save percentage.
“James has been probably one of the most consistent players we’ve had,” said Townsend. “Every game, he’s been there for us. He gave up 12 goals against RIT, but then he made a save at the buzzer to win the game. He’s dialed in. He cares about academics, and he wants to win. He’s a solid goalie.”
* Union College will host the ECAC Division III upstate softball championship today and Sunday at Alexander Field. This is the fourth straight ECAC appearance for the 29-8 Dutchwomen, who won the first-ever Liberty League tournament last week. Top-seeded Union meets fourth-seeded Elmira today at 11 a.m., while second-seed St. John Fisher takes on third-seeded Medaille at 1 p.m. The two losing teams play again at 3 p.m., while the two winning teams square off at 5 p.m.
* Mark Bleser, a 2001 graduate of Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, was inducted into the Johnson & Wales University athletic hall of fame this week. Bleser was voted the 2003 Great Northeast Athletic Conference men’s soccer player of the year and was a three-time all-conference selection. He was also the tournament MVP in 2003. In 2004, he was awarded the National Soccer Coaches Association of America award and made the All-New England team. He finished his career with 69 points, including 37 assists over his final three seasons.
* Skidmore College’s riding team won the 2010 Intercollegiate Horse Show Association national championship last week at Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Ky. It was the sixth time the Thoroughbreds won the IHSA national title since 1999. Skidmore took second in five of the eight events. Scoring five points each for the Thoroughbreds were Isabella McKeon (walk-trot-canter), Laura Roberts (novice over fences), Chelsea Jones (intermediate on the flat and intermediate overfFences) and Kelly Campell (open in the flat). Elizabeth Kigin added three points in the open over fences to secure the win, and she also finished eighth in the Caccione Cup for the nation’s top riders. In individual competition, Alexandra McGuire won the national title in the walk-trot-canter, Flavia D’Urso was fourth in the open over fences and Grier Filley was fifth in the intermediate on the flat.
* Senior pitcher Lance Harting (Ballston Spa) won his eighth game without a loss to lead Longwood over Radford, 9-6, in a Big South Conference baseball game. It was senior night for Longwood.
* Broadalbin-Perth’s Katie Finch was named the tournament MVP after leading SUNY-Cortland to a 1-0 victory over SUNY-Plattsburgh to win the SUNYAC title, the Red Dragaons’ 10th title overall and the third in the last four years. Finch struck out 11 during her one-hitter.
* Fairfield University senior Bill Rafferty (Guilderland) hit for the cycle against Iona College and set several single-game records in the process. The center fielder tripled in the first, belted a grand slam in the third, doubled in the fourth, homered in the seventh and singled in the fifth. He finished 5-for-6 with five runs and seven RBI. His 14 total bases broke the Stags’ single-game record, and his five runs scored tied the team record. He is batting .315 with a team-high 43 runs and 27 RBI.
* Before its final Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference game today against Fairfield, Siena will honor Tyler DeMarco, who died of brain cancer in February at the age of 12. DeMarco was a player in the Rotterdam Little League. Activities begin at 11 a.m. with carnival-style food, a bouncy bounce and relay races. The event is free of charge. Donations will be accepted at the game.
Track and field performer Fey Adaramola and volleyball player Valerie Sourbeer are among 13 student-athletes nominated for America East Conference Woman of the Year. Sourbeer recently received the Chancellor’s Scholar-Athlete Award and also earned the ECAC Merit Medal as the school’s top senior female athlete. Adaramola also received an ECAC Merit Medal and led the Danes to their second straight outdoor track and field title.
Junior first baseman Gina Mason and junior outfielder Jessica Bergin were named to the America East Conference first team in softball, while senior infielder Michelle Connors (Shenendehowa) and senior catcher Kat Smith were selected to the second team.
HUDSON VALLEY CC
Infielder Dave Balsamo, pitcher Alex Sardo and outfielder Bob Peluso were named to the NJCAA Region III all-star team. Head coach Dave Hennessey was the Co-Coach of the Year on the All-Mountain Valley Conference team as well as the Coach of the Year on the All-NJCAA Region III team.
Becky Bailey, Patrick Reardon and Camden Mamigonian were named to the ESPN the Magazine Academic All-District I College Division softball and baseball teams, respectively, while Andrew Mondo was a second-team selection.
Reardon and Mamigonian were also named to the Liberty League first team after Reardon hit .385 with 14 doubles and seven home runs, and Mamigonian batted .378 with 33 runs and a team-high 36 RBI.
Jessica Sizger was an honorable mention on the All-Liberty League tennis team.
Shortstop Ashley Anderson was named to the ESPN the Magazine District I Academic All-America team after posting a .363 grade-point average and a team-high .344 batting average with 27 RBI and seven home runs.
SCHENECTADY COUNTY CC
Sophomore outfielder Damien Tyler (Fort Edward), freshman first baseman Jake Nelson (Lake George) and freshman catcher Billy Creighton (CBA) were named to the All-Mountain Valley Collegiate Conference baseball team. Tyler and Creighton were also second-team selections on the NJCAA Region III team. Head coach Tim Andi, who led the Royals to a 21-19 record, 18-10 in region play, was named the Mountain Valley Co-Coach of the Year.
Freshman Shannon Jones (Troy) was named to the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference second team in softball. The shortstop batted .344 with six home runs, 12 doubles and 33 RBI.
David Bakyta was named the Eaton Pride Golf Coaches Association of America Northeast Coach of the Year.
Chris DeJohn, Matt Canavan, Joe Flowers and Ryan Lloyd were named to the Northeast All-Region golf team.
Nataly Mendoza was named the Liberty League tennis rookie of the year after posting an 18-6 record at singles. She was also 20-9 in doubles along with Danika
Robison. Mendoza, Robison and Rachel Loeb were named to the Liberty League all-conference team in singles. Mendoza and Robison were honors in the doubles, as were Loeb and Brittany Trimble.
Luke Granger and Spencer Cheng were named to the All-Liberty League first team in men’s tennis.
Head coach Ron Plourde and his staff were named the Liberty League staff of the year after the Thoroughbreds posted their third straight 20-win season.
Jake Mendell (333, 17 RBI, 12 stolen bases), Brian Lowry (.325, four home runs), Spencer Marcus (8-2 record, 2.15 ERA) and Zack Rudman (six saves) were named to the Liberty League first team in baseball.
Senior attack Brian Krol (Niskayuna) was named to the ALL-SUNYAC team in men’s lacrosse after leading the Red Dragons in goals with 36 and total points with 49.
Sophomore second baseman Matt June (Colonie) was named to the All-SUNYAC baseball team after hitting .431 with 10 doubles, a triple, two homers and 24 RBI.
Finch was named to the ESPN the Magazine College Division District I All-Academic team after posting a 25-2 record with a 0.62 earned run average in 163 innings pitched. She was also named the SUNYAC pitcher of the year.
Senior Stephanie Moberg (Saratoga Springs) was named the Cardinals’ most valualbe player in women’s hockey after scoring 25 goals and finishing with 43 points.
Freshman Dylan Katz-Wicks was named an honorable mention on the Liberty League baseball team after hitting .369 with 23 RBI.