CORTLAND, N.Y. – Cortland outscored Tufts 8-1 in the final 26 minutes to overcome a 9-4 deficit and the nationally second-ranked Red Dragons defeated the fourth-ranked Jumbos 12-10 in thenational semifinals at the SUNY Cortland Stadium Complex. Cortland remained undefeated at 21-0 and will face top-ranked and unbeaten Salisbury (22-0) in the national title game on Sunday, May 27 at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass.
Cortland will be making its first title-game showing since winning the 2009 national championship. The Red Dragons will be in the NCAA Div. III finals for the seventh time overall and for the fourth time versus Salisbury. Cortland defeated the Sea Gulls in the 2006 finals but lost in both 2007 and 2008.
Cortland junior goalie Mike Kaminski made a career-high 16 saves, nine in the second half. Tufts sophomore netminder Patton Watkins made eight of his 11 saves in the first half.
Ten Red Dragons scored at least one goal. Senior Mike Tota finished with two goals and two assists and freshman Matt Rakoczy totaled two goals and one assist. Senior Zack Mulvaney added a goal and two assists, while sophomore Joe Slavik and senior Eric Richards notched a goal and an assist each.
Senior Kevin McCormick led Tufts with two goals and one assist. Senior Geordie Shafer scored twice, and freshman Cole Bailey and junior Andrew Fiamengo tallied a goal and an assist each.
The game featured three distinct runs, starting with a 4-1 Cortland surge over the game’s first 16 minutes. The Red Dragons led 3-0 nine minutes into the game on goals by Tota, freshman Mike Cantelli and Richards and went up 4-1 after a goal by sophomore Cody Consul 21 seconds into the second period.
Tufts then unleashed a barrage of eight consecutive goals – seven in a six-minute span of the second quarter and the first goal of the third period – to take its largest lead at 9-4. McCormick and Shafer each scored twice during that run.
Cortland started its comeback on goals by junior Taylor Mendoza and Tota at the 10:26 and 7:58 marks, respectively, in the third quarter. The Jumbos answered with a goal by sophomore Beau Wood at the 6:51 mark to take a 10-6 lead but didn’t score the rest of the game.
Rakoczy found the net with 5:56 left and sophomore Eric Ohman tallied with 1:05 left and the Red Dragons were within 10-8 after three quarters. Rakoczy’s second goal with 12:25 left in the game made it a one-goal margin.
Kaminski made two saves over the next two-plus minutes, but each time Cortland failed to clear the ball. A shot by Tufts’ Kirwan then hit the post with 10:02 left, and the Jumbos were called for a 30-second penalty on the ensuing Cortland clear.
Slavik then tied the game with 9:16 left just after the penalty had expired. Senior Greg Wright assisted on the Slavik goal and in the process became the ninth player in school history to reach 200 career points (95 goals, 105 assists).
After the teams traded possessions, Cortland cleared the ball and junior Tom Casey scored off a Tota feed with 5:28 left to give the Red Dragons the lead. Following a Red Dragon turnover, Tufts had two potential game-tying shots miss the mark with less than five minutes remaining. Cortland cleared the ball and successfully ran the clock down before Tota turned the ball over at the 1:37 mark. However, Tota quickly forced a bad pass that Mulvaney scooped up and shot into an empty net with 1:31 left to close the scoring.
Cortland won the ensuing faceoff but turned the ball over with 1:13 left. Tufts had two shots in the final 50 seconds – one stopped by Kaminski with 48 seconds left and another go wide left with 31 seconds remaining.