Warren's goal in OT tops Cortland State, sends RIT to first national title game
CORTLAND, N.Y. -- Allister Warren's overtime goal with 1:55 left lifted RIT to a 10-9 win against previously undefeated Cortland State on Sunday, sending the Tigers to their first Division III Men's Lacrosse national championship game.
RIT (19-2) will face Stevenson in the championship game on May 26 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia. The Tigers lost their season opener to Stevenson, 12-11 in overtime. Stevenson defeated two-time defending champion Salisbury 12-6 in the second semifinal.
"I'm so excited and proud of the guys," RIT head coach Jake Coon said. "It was a typical RIT-Cortland game that came down to the end. We stuck with our game plan and were able to come up with the plays down the stretch. This is a great day for our team, alumni, students and administration."
Warren scored off the hidden-ball trick with the assist going to Taylor Wisman. Warren and Wisman crossed at the top of the box. Warren appeared to flip the ball to Wisman, but kept it himself. Cortland goalie Mike Kaminski followed Wisman, allowing Warren to fire a shot into the open net, sending the Tigers to the championship game.
"We had a pick play called in the huddle," Warren said. "Coach [Shawn] Wilkens and Coach [Pat] Dutton said if that didn't work go with the hidden ball trick. I saw the goalie follow Taylor so I fired it into the open net."
RIT ties a single-season school record with 19 wins, also set in 2011. The Tigers enter the national championship game having won 13 consecutive games and are 68-12 since the start of the 2010 season.
Eddie Kiesa, Jack Krzyston and Kyle Aquin each had two goals for the Tigers, while Wisman finished with three assists. Pat Johnston picked up his 19th win of the season, making 10 saves, including three late in the fourth quarter after Cortland made a run to tie the game.
"We kept our composure and buckled down when it got tight," Johnston said. "Our defense did a great job of giving me good looks at the shots down the stretch and I made the saves I was supposed to."
Shots were 50-34 in favor of Cortland, while RIT won the ground-ball battle 39-26. Tyler Brooks-Lambert dominated at the face-off X for RIT, winning 15 of 21 draws, grabbing eight ground balls and scoring a goal. RIT's man-down unit held Cortland scoreless on four attempts.
Elliott Cowburn led RIT's defense with two caused turnovers and five ground balls. Luke Wolfe also caused two turnovers and had two ground balls, while Matt Hossack caused three turnovers and had a ground ball.
"Our defense was fantastic," Coon said. "They played a steady, clean game. Our man-down defense was excellent, keeping a team like Cortland scoreless in four tries is impressive."
Joe Slavik led Cortland (19-1) with three goals. Zach Hopps tallied a pair of goals, and Mike Cummings, Patrick Brown, Billy Davis and James Stavrakis each netted a goal. Cody Consul recorded three assists, while Mike Cantelli and Pat Baldwin chipped in with one assist apiece.
Kaminski stopped 10 shots and collected five ground balls for the Red Dragons. Baldwin registered four ground balls and Brian Winterfeldt caused two turnovers.
RIT jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead on goals by Krzyston and Aquin to start the game. Billy Davis answered for Cortland with a goal at the 6:56 mark of the first quarter, cutting RIT's lead to 2-1.
The Tigers scored the only three goals of the second quarter, taking a 5-1 lead at the half. Freshman Braden Wallace opened the scoring in the second on his 15th goal of the season, making the score 3-1. Brooks-Lambert won the ensuing faceoff and scored off a rebound, his first of the season, giving RIT a 4-1 lead. Wisman ran the clock and made a perfect feed to Krzyston in front, who made it 5-1 with his 51st goal of the season and second of the first half with just eight seconds left.
Aquin opened the second-half scoring with his 58th tally of the season off an assist from Kiesa at 13:16 of the third quarter, increasing RIT's lead to 6-1.
Slavik answered with a bullet from the outside for Cortland with 10:32 to play in the third quarter, cutting RIT's lead to 6-2.
Hossack took a feed from Mac Keehfus and rifled a shot into the top corner with his long stick, giving RIT a 7-2 lead.
The Red Dragons didn't go away quietly, closing out the third quarter with three consecutive goals, cutting RIT's lead to 7-5 on a goal by James Stavrakis with 1:23 to play in the quarter. Slavik and Hopps also had goals for Cortland in that stretch.
Kiesa opened the fourth quarter with his first goal of the game and 40th of the season off an assist from Johnston who cleared the ball himself, circled around the net and found Kiesa for the shot from the slot. That gave RIT an 8-5 lead early in the fourth quarter.
Cortland rattled off three consecutive goals midway through the fourth quarter, tying the score at 8 on Slavik's third of the game with 7:28 to play in regulation.
RIT weathered the Cortland storm, and got a big goal from Kiesa with 4:09 to play giving the Tigers a 9-8 lead.
That lead didn't last long as Hopps scored with 2:33 to play off an assist from Cody Consul, tying the score at 9.
Cortland had a chance late in regulation when RIT was called for offsides, giving Cortland a man-up chance with 17.1 seconds to play in regulation. The Tigers' man-down unit stayed strong and kept Cortland off the scoreboard to send the game into overtime.
Cortland won the opening faceoff in the overtime and had a shot, but RIT's defense game up with the block. The Tigers cleared the ball and called timeout to set up Warren and Wisman and give RIT its first win in six national semifinal games.
RIT, which is now 14-14 all time in NCAA tournament play in its 15th appearance, has beaten the fifth (Cabrini), sixth (Tufts) and top-ranked (Cortland) teams in this year's tournament to reach the championship game.
Cortland State Athletics contributed to this report.