East Hartford, Conn. (NEWS10) — The #8/10 Union College men’s lacrosse team played about as great a half as possible to take a 7-4 lead at halftime, but #2/1 Rochester Institute of Technology outscored the Dutchmen 8-3 in the second half to hold on for a 12-10 victory in the NCAA Division III National Championship game on Sunday afternoon at Rentschler Field.
Senior Peter Burnes tied for the game-high with four points on two goals and two assists to lead Union (18-3). Seniors Brian Davis, Hayden Frey and Kieran McGovern all had two goals apiece, while classmate Keaton McCann added a goal and two assists for three points.
Quinn Commandant scored a game-high three goals and added an assist for four points for RIT (22-1), and he was matched by Marley Angus and John Mozrall with two goals and two assists apiece.
Union came out of the gates on fire in the opening half, dominating in every statistical category and seemingly winning every 50-50 ball. Burnes opened the scoring with a man-up tally 2:17 into the contest. After RIT knotted the score soon after, the Dutchmen held the Tigers off the scoreboard for the remainder of the quarter and Union got goals from Davis and senior Jack Donahue in the final minute to take a 3-1 lead.
RIT scored the first goal of the second stanza, but Union responded with four straight goals to take the largest lead of the game for either side at 7-2 with 4:49 left in the half. Goals from McCann, Frey and McGovern less than two minutes apart started the run, while Burnes capped the string with his second of the game from senior Matt Belluche at 10:11 of the period.
The Tigers scored the final two goals of the half, but the Dutchmen still held a 7-4 lead at the half. Union outshot RIT 31-16 in the opening 30 minutes and grabbed 22 ground balls to the Tigers’ 13, while eight saves by sophomore Dan Donahue kept the Dutchmen in front.
The tide turned in the third quarter as the Tigers switched to a zone defense, keeping Union off the scoreboard and scoring four times to take back the lead at 8-7. The run continued with the first two goals of the fourth frame, making the score 10-7 with 11:48 on the clock. From there, RIT was content to trade goals the rest of the way, as the Dutchmen could never get closer than two.
The Dutchmen still maintained its shot advantage in the second half, finishing the game with a 54-35 edge in shot attempts, and also ended up with a 39-31 edge in ground balls. Drew Hutchison kept RIT in the game with 16 total saves to earn Tournament Most Outstanding Player, while Donahue finished with 12 saves for Union.
The loss concludes the greatest season in Union lacrosse history. Led by their 10 graduating seniors – Belluche, Davis, Donahue, Frey, McCann, McGovern, Sam Byrne, Matthew Georgiades, Reed Karaska and Ryan Puglisi – Union set a program record with 18 victories and won NCAA quarterfinal and semifinal games for the first time ever.