Rob Santangelo scored on a couple of whirling wrap-around shots, and his momentum forced him to the ground with a huge smile on his face.
Junior goalie Stefan Basile aggressively raced out of the cage numerous times to stop opposing attackers, and he once cleared the ball all the way up the field far enough where he could have even taken a shot on goal himself if he were so inclined.
Even senior defender Tanner Jones got in the act, when after an Amherst attacker hit the crossbar with a hard shot, he raced all the way back and scored the game-clincher with 4:42 remaining for his first score of the season.
Indeed, after spotting the Lord Jeffs a 2-0 early lead, the Dutchmen were clicking on all cylinders en route to a convincing 17-11 win over 12th-ranked Amherst in the second round of the NCAA Division III
lacrosse tournament Saturday on Frank Bailey Field.
The ninth-ranked Dutchmen (15-3) advance to play No. 1 RIT for the third time this season in the quarterfinals Wednesday in Rochester. The Dutchmen lost to the Tigers, 8-7, in the regular season and, 13-11, in the Liberty League championship game, both on the road.
Amherst finishes 15-5.
“It means everything to our 13 seniors,” said Union coach Paul Wehrum about the Dutchmen’s convincing win. “To be undefeated at home [9-0] this year is great. I couldn’t be happier. I would love to face the No. 1 team in the country again at their place.”
Wehrum said he wasn’t surprised that the Dutchmen were able to take a couple of early blows and then bounce back to dominate the game.
“Our depth was the key,” he said. “I knew with this heat that we needed to run as many players in and out of the lineup as possible.”
Wehrum credited Basile, the Liberty League Defensive Player of the Year, for keeping the Dutchmen in the game early on. Basile made 15 saves.
“Stefan is an All-American, and I think he’s the best goalie in the country, and I’ve seen a lot of them,” Wehrum said. “He’s also the fastest athlete on the team. I worry sometimes about goalies like him, because he is not wearing any pads, and when he comes out of the cage area like that, he could get hurt. But he is very creative, and he knows what he’s doing back there.”
“Coach and I have talked about me being the seventh defender back there,” said Basile. “He doesn’t want me just sitting back there in the cage. If I can clear the ball and make a couple of runs like that to help out my team, that’s what I’m going to do. I’m so proud of our entire team today. Amherst is a very good team.”
Santangelo, a 5-foot-9 senior attack who is the Dutchmen’s top active career scorer with 84 goals and 82 assists, paced Union’s balanced offense with four goals and two assists, including several highlight-reel tallies.
“When Amherst scored the first goal against us, we fed off that,” Santangelo said. “We knew that if we executed our game plan, we would make the right adjustments. It’s a testament to our defense and our coaches’ game plan that we were able to come back like that.”
Junior attack Charlie Ross added three goals for Union, which also got two goals each from Richard Gregory, Jonathan Andrews and Peter Richardson.
“This means everything at this point of the season for us,” said Ross. “We’re going to the Elite Eight for the second time in school history. This is unbelievable.”
Asked how he felt about a third trip to Rochester to face the Tigers, Ross didn’t hesitate with his response. “Absolutely, we want to play them again. It’s hard to beat us three times. A win over them, and it’s on to the semifinals. All we have to do is beat them this time.”
Amherst 3 3 4 1 — 11
Union 5 2 6 4 — 17
Amherst scoring: Quinn Moroney 4-2, Matt Killian 2-0, Devin Acton 1-1, Aaron Mathias 1-0, Kevin Curry 1-0, Johno Gibbons 1-0, Rob Butko 1-0. Union scoring: Rob Santangelo 4-2, Charlie Ross 3-0, Richard Gregory 2-2, Jonathan Andrews 2-1, Peter Richardson 2-0, Nolan Stauffer 1-2, Adam Sands 1-1, Jack Scheufele 1-0, Tanner Jones 1-0, Cameron Slatton 0-2, Daniel Kycia 0-1.
Goalkeepers: Amherst, Greg Majno, 14 saves. Union, Stefan Basile, 15 saves; Devyn Jefferies, 0 saves.