Williams College men's lacrosse travels to RIT for NCAA D-III Elite 8
WILLIAMSTOWN — Just before the post-game press conference after Williams College's Sweet 16 men's lacrosse win on Saturday, Eph coach George McCormack was asked if he and his team could wrap their arms around the fact that they are two wins from going to the NCAA Division III national championship game.
"We don't think like that," McCormack said at the time. "We're still in the present right now and focusing on resting up and getting ready for Monday's practice."
The rest and practices are pretty much over, as the Ephs head to upstate New York to play Rochester Institute of Technology in a D-III Elite Eight game. The face-off is scheduled for 5 p.m.
The winner will play the winner of today's game between Tufts and Amherst. If Tufts and Williams win, the game would likely be played in Medford. But if Amherst and Williams win, that game would likely be at Farley-Lamb Field. Either way, the Final Four game is scheduled for Sunday afternoon.
The top four teams in the NCAA's North Region are playing tonight. In the final rankings before the start of the D-III tournament, Tufts was ranked No. 1, followed by RIT, Williams and Amherst. On the other side of the bracket, the top four teams in the South Region are in the Elite Eight. Salisbury, the No. 1 team in the region, will host No. 4 Denison, while No. 3 Cabrini is at No. 2 York.
In the most recent USISL National Top 20 poll, RIT is No. 1, followed by Salisbury, Tufts, York and Williams. Cabrini is ranked sixth nationally, while Amherst is ranked seventh and Denison is ninth.
The Tigers of RIT enter the Elite Eight with a 20-1 record, and have won 16 straight. The last time RIT lost was on March 16, when then fourth-ranked Amherst scored a 17-16 win. RIT won the Liberty League title, knocking off Union, then beat John Carroll and Union en route to tonight's matchup with Williams.
In Saturday's game, the Dutchmen rallied from a four-goal deficit, scoring three times in the fourth quarter. Union held RIT scoreless in the fourth quarter — 23 minutes in all — before time ran out on the Union comeback bid.
RIT is making its 10th consecutive appearance in the NCAA D-III tournament, and will be seeking to make a third trip to the national championship game in this decade. The Tigers lost to Stevenson in the 2013 national title game in Philadelphia, while they lost to Salisbury in 2017.
RIT sits near the top in many national statistical categories. The Tigers are 13th in Division III in scoring (16.86 goals per game) and 14th in defense (7.76 per game). RIT is eighth, converting 40-of-83, in man-up chances. On the other side of the ball, RIT leads all of D-III with 942 ground balls, averaging almost 45 per game, and has won 61 percent of its face-offs.
The Tigers are led by Liberty League offensive player of the year Shawn Nally, who has 44 goals and 33 assists. Ryan Barnable (42 goals) and Liberty League tourney MVP Dawson Tait has registered 68 points.
That will create quite a challenge for a Williams defense and goalie Harry Gahagan. The Ephs have only allowed 10.33 goals per game, and have allowed 10 or fewer goals nine times.
"I think when our team is playing best is when we're making stops on defense — Harry's making saves or causing turnovers. When we can get numbers in transition and run our sets in our transition offense and get goals off that," Williams midfielder John Hincks said after Saturday's win, "that's when we're playing our best lacrosse. That's when we can get up into the 16 to 18 goal range."
Howard Herman can be reached at email@example.com, at @howardherman on Twitter, or 413-496-6253.
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