Junior Nick Rhoads won 22 of 32 face-offs for Tufts

ROCHESTER, N.Y. - The Tufts men's lacrosse team outscored host RIT 6-2 in the fourth quarter to take a 16-12 victory over the Tigers in the NCAA Division III Championship semi-finals on Sunday afternoon. The win over previously undefeated RIT gives the Jumbos their second straight berth into 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 pm at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore.

The game was tied at 10-10 after three quarreters, and then was 12-12 with 4:42 to play on a goal by RIT's Jordan Collins-Hartwig. The Jumbos closed out the final 4:42 on a 4-0 run to win. Senior Matt Witko (Chappaqua, NY) scored the eventual game-winner with 3:46 to play on a sweeping drive from his midfield position. Senior D.J. Hessler (Monkton, MD) scored twice during Tufts' closing run.

Hessler led the Jumbos with five points on two goals and three assists. Junior Sean Kirwan (Boonton Township, NJ) tallied four goals and classmate Kevin McCormick (Laytonsville, MD) added three tallies for Tufts. Witko and junior Geordie Shafer (Rancho Santa Fe, CA) each had a pair of goals. Junior face-off man Nick Rhoads (McLean, VA) was sensational, taking 22 of 32 draws. Sophomore Sam Diss (Ridgewood, NJ) finished with seven ground balls to go with two assists. Freshman Patton Watkins (Chattanooga, TN) picked up the win making 13 saves and allowing 12 goals.

Junior attack Tyler Russell scored a game-high five goals for RIT. Kelso Davis, Iric Bressler  and Collins-Hartwig each had two goals for the Tigers. Bressler added four assists, MacIntosh had two helpers, and Collins-Hartwig had one assist. M.J. Kiekebelt had an assist, grabbed eight ground balls and caused three turnovers. Senior Bob Tonnessen made 15 saves in net for the Tigers.

In a game that matched Tufts' season-high for combined goals, the score was tied 4-4 after one quarter. McCormick tallied twice for the Jumbos and 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. Tonnessen saved eight shots for RIT in the period.

The Tigers had the better of the third quarter, tying the game with a 4-2 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 finsihed 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 themselves.

Tufts defeated Salisbury 9-6 last year to win the University first-ever NCAA team title.

Game Box Score