No. 4 Wesleyan to Face No. 2 RIT in NCAA Semifinals on Sunday

Photo by Steve McLaughlin
Photo by Steve McLaughlin

MIDDLETOWN, Conn. – For the third time in program history, the Wesleyan University men's lacrosse team has advanced to the Final Four following a thrilling 14-13 win over No. 3 Bates College in the 2017 NCAA Division III Quarterfinals. The Cardinals (20-1) – ranked No. 4 in the USILA/NIKE Coaches Poll – will travel to Rochester, N.Y. to face No. 2 RIT (19-2) in the national semifinals on Sunday, May 21 at 1 p.m. The winner advances to the championship game at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass. on Sunday, May 28, and will play the winner of No. 1 Salisbury (20-1)/No. 7 Denison (18-1).


2017 NCAA DIVISION III CHAMPIONSHIP BRACKET  l  NCAA DIGITAL PROGRAM


LIVE COVERAGE:

  • Sunday's game will feature live stats courtesy of RIT Sports Information, as well as a live video broadcast. (Live Stats l Video)

SCOUTING NO. 4 WESLEYAN (20-1):
Schedule / Roster / Stats / Highlight Videos

  • The Cardinals are riding a 20-game win streak entering Sunday's contest – a program record and the longest win streak in the country, in all divisions.
  • Wesleyan's 20 wins are a program record, as well as the team's nine regular season NESCAC victories.
  • The 2017 NESCAC Champions are ranked No. 4 in the country, which is their highest ranking ever.
  • Head coach John Raba was named the NESCAC Coach of the Year, and was also the NEILA All-New England Co-Coach of the Year. He is now 246-109 (.692) in 21 years at the helm of the program with 19 winning seasons.
  • The Cardinals boast a well-balanced attack. Offensively, they are led by junior Harry Stanton, who ranks fifth in Division III in goals per game with 3.86. He currently has a single-season program record 81 goals this year, including 29 assists for a total of 110 points. Stanton is already Wesleyan's fourth all-time leading scorer with 212 points (159g, 53a).
  • Carter Hawthorne '19 leads the team in assists with a single-season program record 54, while adding 40 goals for 94 points. Midfielders Christian Barker '19 and Taylor Ghesquiere '18 rank third and fourth on the team, respectively, with 54 and 50. Ghesquiere's 46 goals are the second most on the team.
  • Senior goalie Ted Bergman has been terrific in net all season. A First Team All-New England selection, Bergman boasts a 20-1 win-loss record with a 56.9 save percentage and an 8.81 goals-against average.
  • Wesleyan is 12-0 at home this season, 5-1 on the road and 3-0 in neutral site games.
  • They are 9-4 all-time in the NCAA Tournament

HOW THEY GOT HERE:

  • The Cardinals routed New England College in the second round, 25-6. They held an 18-2 advantage at halftime, and were led by Stanton's eight points.
  • Wesleyan hosted No. 12 Tufts in its third round game. It was the third meeting against the Jumbos this year, as the Cardinals cruised to a 17-8 win for the season sweep. Stanton scored six goals and dished out an assist, while Bergman was excellent in net with 13 saves.
  • In the quarterfinals, Wesleyan remained home to host No. 3 Bates. The Cardinals avenged their only loss of the season, as they jumped out to a 6-0 halftime lead. It was the first time all season the Bobcats' potent offense had been shut out in a half. Bates rallied, and trailing 13-10 with 2:54 to play, came back to even it at 13-13 with 1:29 remaining. However, Stanton scored the game-winner with :38 on the clock and Bergman made an impressive save with :02 remaining in regulation as the Cardinals held off the late scare.

SCOUTING NO. 2 RIT (19-2):
Schedule / Roster / Stats

  • After losing back-to-back games in the middle of March, the Tigers have rallied to win 14-straight.
  • The 2017 Liberty League Champions – for the eighth consecutive season – are making their 19th postseason appearance. They are 23-18 all-time in the NCAA Tournament, with one runner-up finish and seven third-place finishes.
  • The Tigers boast one of the best offenses in Division III. They lead the country in assists per game (12.24), rank second in points per game (29.52), and fifth in scoring offense (17.29).
  • RIT is led by seniors Ryan Lee and JD Hall. Lee was named the 2017 Liberty League Offensive Player of the Year for the second time in three seasons, while Hall received Defensive Player of the Year laurels.
  • Lee leads the team in points with 101 on 59 goals and 42 assists. Senior Chad Levick has 59 goals and 28 assists for a total of 87 points, and junior midfielder Kyle Killen is third on the team with 51 points (29g, 22a).
  • In net, senior Nick Nesbitt has started 20 of the team's 21 games and is 17-2 with 940:23 minutes logged between the posts. He has a 9.70 goals-against average (GAA) and a 57.1 save percentage. Classmate Jon Berg has appeared in 12 games with one start and 281:59 minutes in net. He is 2-0 with a 9.36 GAA and 56.9 save percentage.
  • The Tigers are an experienced team with 15 seniors and 12 juniors on their roster.
  • They are 10-0 at home this season, 6-1 in road games and 3-1 in neutral site contests.

HOW THEY GOT HERE:

  • RIT cruised to a commanding 29-8 win over John Carroll in the second round. Levick and Lee led the team with seven (5g, 2a) and five (3g, 2a) points, respectively.
  • Three days later, the Tigers earned a nine-goal win (17-8) over No. 13 Stevenson in the third round. Ahead 11-7 entering the fourth quarter, RIT put the game out of reach with six goals in the final 15 minutes, while holding Stevenson to one. Levick scored five goals and recorded an assist, while Lee added three goals and four assists. Nesbitt made 14 saves in goal.
  • The Tigers faced a familiar foe in the quarterfinals in No. 8 SUNY Cortland. They defeated the Red Dragons by six earlier in the year, and won by six on Wednesday as well, 15-9. RIT jumped out to a 7-0 lead and never looked back, as Lee and Brendan MacDonald scored three goals apiece, and Levick scored twice while dishing out two assists.

SERIES HISTORY:

  • Sunday's game will mark just the second meeting between Wesleyan and RIT.
  • The only other matchup between the two teams occurred in the 2006 NCAA Division III Second Round as the Cardinals won 11-8 to advance to the quarterfinals.

TEAM COMPARISONS:


Wes RIT
Games 21 21
Goals 297 363
Assists 188 260
Goals-per game 14.14 17.29
Man-up percentage 48.6 35.7
Ground balls 742 877
Turnovers 344 316
Caused Turnovers 159 242
Faceoff percentage 52.9 55.9
Clear percentage 88.2 85.5
Goals-against average 8.96 9.37
Record against top-25 7-1 11-1