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Men’s lacrosse overcomes unbeaten RIT to earn second straight trip to NCAA championships

Tufts lacrosse player

The Tufts men’s lacrosse team outscored host Rochester Institute of Technology 6–2 in the fourth quarter to take a 16–12 victory over the Tigers in the NCAA Division III Championship semifinals on May 22. The win over previously undefeated RIT gives the Jumbos their second straight berth in the NCAA national championship game. In a repeat of last year’s final, Tufts will play Salisbury for the NCAA title next Sunday, May 29, at 7 p.m. at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore. Tufts defeated Salisbury 9–6 in 2010 to win the university’s first-ever NCAA team title.

The game was tied at 10–10 after three quarters, and then was 12–12 with 4:42 to play on a goal by RIT’s Jordan Collins-Hartwig. The Jumbos grabbed the win after closing out the final 4:42 with a 4–0 run. Midfielder Matt Witko, A11, scored the eventual game-winner with 3:46 to play on a sweeping drive from midfield. Attacker D.J. Hessler, E11, scored twice during Tufts’ closing run.

Hessler led the Jumbos with five points on two goals and three assists. Attacker Sean Kirwan, A12, tallied four goals, and classmate Kevin McCormick added three more for Tufts. Witko and junior Geordie Shafer, A12, each had a pair of goals. Face-off man Nick Rhoads, A12, was sensational, taking 22 of 32 draws. Midfielder Sam Diss, A13, finished with seven ground balls, in addition to two assists. Freshman keeper Patton Watkins picked up the win, making 13 saves and allowing 12 goals.

In a game that matched Tufts’ season high for goals, the score was tied 4–4 after one quarter. McCormick tallied twice for the Jumbos, and junior attacker Tyler Russell had a pair for the Tigers. Watkins had five first-quarter saves for Tufts.

Six more goals were pumped in during the second quarter, four by the Jumbos as they took an 8–6 advantage into halftime. Kirwan scored twice, and Rhoads won six of seven face-offs for Tufts in the second. Senior Bob Tonnessen saved eight shots for RIT in the period.

The RIT Tigers owned the third quarter, tying the game with a 4–2 run in the period. Russell had two in the third, including a tally with 2:32 on the clock that tied the score at 10–10. The teams traded the first four goals of the fourth until the Jumbos finished strong for the win.

Tufts outshot RIT 55–34 and won the ground ball battle 47–41.The Jumbos held RIT to 0 for 4 on man-up chances, while scoring on one of two of their opportunities.

Tufts Sports Information Director Paul Sweeney can be reached at


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