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Wesleyan to Face No. 1 RIT in NCAA Semifinal Rematch on Sunday

Photo by Steve McLaughlin
Photo by Steve McLaughlin

ROCHESTER, N.Y. – This Sunday, May 20th, the Wesleyan University men's lacrosse team and top-ranked RIT will meet in the semifinals of the 2018 NCAA Division III Championships in a rematch of last year's Final Four showdown. Sunday's game is scheduled to start at 1 p.m. on RIT's Turf Field.  

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GENERAL INFORMATION:

  • The Cardinals (17-3) defeated Tufts on the road Wednesday in a quarterfinal thriller, 12-11, to reach the semifinals for the second consecutive season and fourth time overall. The Tigers (21-0) earned a 12-7 home win over York on Wednesday night to return to the semifinals for the 10th time. Sunday's winner will advance to the NCAA Championship game on Sunday, May 27 (1 p.m.) at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass.

TICKET INFORMATION:

  • Cost of admission is $5 for adults and $3 for students and seniors.

LIVE COVERAGE:


AT A GLANCE: NO. 9 WESLEYAN (17-3) – NESCAC Runner-Up
ScheduleRoster * Stats * Highlight Videos
 

  • The Cardinals are 12-5 all-time in six NCAA Tournament appearances and have reached the semifinals four times.
  • Wesleyan is 5-2 against top-25 teams this season and owns a 7-2 ledger on the road.
  • The Cardinals average 12.60 goals per game and their stingy defense allows just 8.83.
  • Offensively, Wesleyan has five players with 50-or-more points and are led by junior Carter Hawthorne (22 goals, 63 assists), freshman Ronan Jacoby (63g, 14a), senior Harry Stanton (52g, 9a), junior Christian Barker (25g, 29a), senior Taylor Ghesquiere (38g, 15a) and senior Cole Turpin (24g, 15a).
  • Hawthorne is Wesleyan's all-time leader in assists with 129, and Stanton is the program's all-time leader in goals with 216. Additionally, Hawthorne has a single-season program record with 63 assists, surpassing the mark he set a year ago (55).
  • Defensively, the Cardinals are led by seniors Andres Rodriguez and Jake Cresta, and First Team All-NESCAC goalie Otto Bohan. Rodriguez and Cresta lead the team with 43 and 27 caused turnovers, respectively, while Rodriguez ranks second on the squad in ground balls with 68. Bohan has been terrific in net and owns a 15-2 record with an 8.19 goals against average (GAA) and 55.4 save percentage.
  • Face off specialist Zach Zavalick has won 200-of-326 attempts and leads the team in ground balls with 127.

HOW THEY GOT HERE:

  • Wesleyan reached the NESCAC Championship game for the second year in a row en route to an at-large bid and hosting duties through the second and third rounds.
  • The Cardinals faced two-time NCAA Champion SUNY-Cortland in the second round and prevailed, 16-12, behind six points from Jacoby (5g, 1a), four assists from Hawthorne and 13 saves from Bohan.
  • Wesleyan followed up with a 12-7 win over No. 8 Cabrini in the third round, in which it rallied from a 3-2 halftime deficit by scoring five goals in both the third and fourth quarters. Jacoby and Stanton each scored three times and Barker dished out a team-high two assists.
  • Wednesday's quarterfinal featured a thriller in which the Cardinals went on the road and snapped Tufts' 21-game home winning streak in NCAA Tournament play. Ahead for most of the game, Wesleyan saw its lead slip away early in the fourth as Tufts went on a 4-0 run to take a 10-9 lead with 13:38 to play. After back-to-back goals by the Cardinals, the Jumbos evened the game with just 1:44 remaining, but the visitors won the ensuing faceoff and ran down the clock until Ghesquiere fired in the game-winner with just 20 seconds to go. He led all players with five goals while Jacoby added four.

AT A GLANCE: NO. 1 RIT (21-0) – Liberty League Champions
Schedule * Roster * Stats

  • The Tigers are a perfect 21-0 this season with a 10-0 mark against top-25 teams.
  • They claimed their seventh-straight Liberty League title with a decisive 23-3 win over Ithaca and return to the NCAA Tournament for the ninth-straight time and 20th overall. RIT is 27-19 all-time in the tournament and has reached the finals twice, in 2013 and 2017. Additionally, the Tigers are making their 10th semifinal appearance and sixth in the last eight years.
  • RIT ranks third in the country in scoring, averaging 17.76 goals per game, while leading the nation in man-up chances (47-of-81). They also rank third in assists with 12.38 per game.
  • Six Tigers have at least 25 goals on the year and nine have 30-or-more points. Kyle Killen—the 2018 Liberty League Offensive Player of the Year—leads the team in scoring (97 points) with a single-season program record 81 goals and 16 assists. His 81 goals and 21 man-up tallies are most in the country. Shawn Nally is second on the team in scoring with 62 points and a team-high 33 assists, while Ryan Tandy (33g, 25a) and Aidan Milburn (34g, 16a) round out the top offensive performers.
  • RIT also boasts a stellar defense in which it allows just 7.90 goals per game and ranks second in Division III in ground balls (883). Eli Salama—the 2018 Liberty League Defensive Player of the Year—headlines the unit with a team-high 28 caused turnovers while Alex Maruna and Matt Pogue have 22 and 21, respectively.
  • Nate Farrell is sixth in Division III in faceoffs, winning 70.2-percent (219-of-312) of his draws, while leading the team in ground balls with 108.

HOW THEY GOT HERE:

  • RIT jumped out to a 17-2 halftime lead against New England College in the second round as it cruised to a commanding 26-3 win at Tiger Stadium.
  • In the third round, the Tigers hosted No. 11 Stevens and once again came out hot, scoring seven goals in the first quarter en route to a 17-9 victory. Milburn led the unit with five goals while Quinn Commandant scored three.
  • For the third consecutive game in the tournament, RIT jumped out to a huge lead early on as it outscored No. 5 York in the first quarter, 6-0. The Spartans held RIT to just six goals over the next three quarters, outscoring the Tigers 7-6 during the stretch, but the first quarter deficit was too large to overcome as RIT prevailed, 12-7. Killen scored five goals to lead the way.

THE SERIES:

  • Sunday's game is the third meeting between Wesleyan and RIT all-time, with the series tied at 1-1. The Cardinals claimed the first matchup with an 11-8 victory at RIT in the second round of the 2006 NCAA Championships, while the Tigers knocked off Wesleyan in last year's semifinal game, 22-9.
  • In the 2017 semifinal matchup, RIT outscored Wesleyan 9-2 in the first quarter and never looked back. The Tigers' top scorers from last year's game—Chad Levick (7g, 3a) and Ryan Lee (5g, 4a)—both graduated, while Stanton led the way for the Cardinals with five goals.

TEAM COMPARISONS:

  Wes RIT
Games 20 21
Goals 252 373
Assists 165 260
Goals-per game 12.60 17.76
Man-up percentage 43.8 58.0
Ground balls 705 895
Turnovers 341 331
Caused Turnovers 172 195
Faceoff percentage 57.5 65.2
Clear percentage 82.3 87.0
Goals-against average 8.83 7.90
Record against top-25 5-2 10-0