TROY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Junior Dan Donahue stopped 21 shots and classmate Peter Kip led the offensive attack with a career-high five points to lead the third-seeded and #17 Union College men’s lacrosse team to a 13-10 victory over second-seeded and #18 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in the Liberty League Tournament semifinals on Friday afternoon at ECAV Stadium.
With the win, Union (11-5) advances to the Liberty League championship game for the seventh time in program history, where top-seeded and #3 Rochester Institute of Technology awaits. Union and RIT will face off at 12 p.m. on Sunday in Rochester, with a conference title and an automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament at stake.
Donahue had another fantastic outing in goal for Union, coming one save short of his season high with 21 saves. The junior made at least four saves in each quarter, including six saves in the fourth frame to thwart RPI’s comeback attempts.
Kip led Union with a career-high five points, scoring three times and adding two assists. Senior Jake Titus (two goals, one assist) and sophomore Archie McEvoy (one goal, two assists) both had three points on the day, while junior Jake Mabardy added a pair of goals. Junior Matthew Paolatto also had a huge game for Union, winning 15-of-28 faceoffs, grabbing 11 ground balls, and also recording the first multi-goal game of his career – with his second goal becoming the eventual game-winner in the third quarter.
Union grabbed the momentum to start the contest, as Paolatto won the opening faceoff and Kip found the net 68 seconds into the contest, and a goal soon after by Titus doubled the Union advantage. Kip and McEvoy matched RPI goals later in the frame, putting the visitors up by a 4-2 score after 15 minutes.
Union built up the largest lead of the day with the first three goals of the second stanza. Paolatto needed just five seconds of the period to make it a 5-2 game, cleaning winning the draw and immediately bolting down the field for his first goal of the year. After two big saves by Donahue and a caused turnover by first-year John Sula, sophomore Hazen Pike scored to put the visitors up by four and then another clean Paolatto faceoff win led to Titus feeding Mabardy for a putaway and a 7-2 lead with 9:08 left.
A goal later in the frame by junior Zach Davis helped Union take an 8-5 lead into the half, with Donahue’s 10 first-half saves keeping his team ahead.
Union regained the momentum with the first two goals of the third period, with Mabardy and classmate Justin Greene giving Union a 10-5 lead with 12:00 left. RPI got one goal back 66 seconds later, but again Paolatto took matters into his own hands, winning the draw and finding the net again just nine seconds later to bump the lead back up to five. The Engineers clawed back, however, scoring three times to get back within two at 11-9 headed to the fourth.
Rensselaer continued to gain momentum with a goal in the opening minute, but that was it for the home team as Donahue and the Union defense shut the door. The junior keeper stopped the final six on-target attempts for the Engineers the rest of the way, and Kip provided a huge insurance goal with 4:29 on the clock before Titus closed things out with an empty-net tally in the waning minutes.
RPI ended the game with a 51-37 edge in shots, but Donahue’s 21 saves far surpassed the eight stops by RPI’s Joseph Perry. The visitors had a 35-32 edge in ground balls and also did well to avoid man-down situations, keeping RPI scoreless on their two man-up opportunities.