The Rochester Institute of Technology men’s lacrosse team is finally a national champion.
Ryan Barnable scored in the second overtime period to defeat Salisbury, 15-14, on Sunday at rainy Rentschler Field in East Hartford, Connecticut, delivering the Tigers their first NCAA Division III national title.
Salisbury won the opening faceoff of the second overtime, but RIT senior long-stick midfielder Taylor Jensen caused a turnover to give the Tigers possession with 3:47 on the clock. Setting up the offense, senior attackman Marley Angus took a shot that went wide of the net, but RIT backed up the shot to retain possession with 2:30 to play. On the restart, senior attackman Dawson Tait sent a pass from behind the goal to Barnable, who scored from just in front of the crease while falling down to seal the victory.
It’s the first DIII national championship game decided in overtime since 2006, when Cortland defeated Salisbury, 13-12.
“I think one other question I get asked is, do I feel pressure to win one. And that’s never been the case,” RIT coach Jake Coon said of winning the program’s first title. “I think we believe in each other. We have that support. Everything was there for the making. We just needed to make plays in a 60-minute game and we were able to do that today. So, wow, it’s a great feeling. Surreal.”
Senior attackman Quinn Commandant had five goals and two assists to lead RIT (14-0) and was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player. Tigers senior goalie Walker Hare made 14 saves, including a game-saving stop with 1:07 left in the first overtime.
“I’m a little bit still a little bit in shock,” Hare said. “It’s kind of hard to believe that thinking back to the early morning practices and when we’re out in snow and the cold, thinking all that led to this moment. It’s just amazing to think about. I’m ecstatic.”
Graduate attackman Griffin Moroney scored five goals to lead the Sea Gulls (17-2), who were denied their 13th national championship and first since 2017.
“Just a battle,” Salisbury coach Jim Berkman said. “Hats off to my guys for battling, having a hell of a second half and getting a bad break to lose the game. But just really honored to have been able to coach this team. The seniors that came back for their fifth year I’m deeply indebted to.”
After rallying to take the lead in the third quarter, Salisbury went up 14-13 with 7:13 to play in the fourth on a goal by senior midfielder Jarrett Bromwell. RIT took advantage of an interference penalty against Salisbury at midfield with 18 seconds left to secure possession and tied the game at 14 with 12 seconds left on a goal by Commandant. Tait nearly won the game in the final seconds after a scramble in front of the net, but his shot went just wide.
“I’m not quite sure what happened at midfield,” Berkman said of the interference penalty that gave RIT the ball back. “I think they called interference on the attackman. They gave them the ball at the end of the game when Pierre [Armstrong] was running across the midfield. They called interference from a kid on the other side of the field. I don’t know how quite that happened or what justified that call.
“In retrospect, had to do it again, I probably should have called a timeout before Brad [Greik] released the pressure with the pass to Pierre.”
Bromwell finished with three goals to tie the Division III tournament scoring record with 21 goals. Freshman midfielder Jack Dowd and senior attackman Cross Ferrara each recorded a pair of goals, and senior goalie T.J. Ellis made 12 saves for the Sea Gulls.
After losing its season opener to Lynchburg, 10-8, Salisbury rolled to 17 straight wins to reach its 19th national title game. The Sea Gulls were particularly dominant in the NCAA tournament, outscoring their first four opponents 94-21, including two 30-goal games.
The Salisbury men missed out on joining the Sea Gulls women as national champions this season. Since the women’s tournament began in 1985, only Middlebury has swept the Division III championships on the men’s and women’s sides, doing so in 2001 and 2002.
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“I think it’s just one of those things, younger guys, you just remember the feeling [of losing],” Moroney said. “And you use it as motivation every day to get better. We’ve been on personally on both ends of the spectrum now and much rather be on the other side of it. RIT is a great team. I think we did all of the preparation that we were supposed to. And we did everything we could. They just they got a good bounce at the end there.”