|RIT athletics photo|
No. 2 RIT (20-2) will face No. 1 Salisbury (21-1) in the 2017 NCAA Division III men's lacrosse championship game at 5 p.m. on Sunday, May 28 at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. Salisbury, which won the 2016 national title, has won 11 national championships in men's lacrosse to date, while RIT is looking for its first.
Salisbury had to hold on for a 12-11 win over No. 7 Denison at home in the national semifinals, while RIT qualified for the championship with a flourish, rolling past No. 4 Wesleyan 22-9.
RIT enters Sunday's title game fourth in Division III in scoring, averaging 17.50 goals per game. The Tigers are out-scoring their opponents 385-206 and are 27-of-73 (37.0 percent) with the man-advantage. RIT has scored 10 or more goals 20 times, including seven games with 20 or more goals. The Tigers enter the championship having won 15 straight games, scoring 299 goals over that stretch.
The Tigers feature 15 players with 10 or more points, 12 with 10 or more goals and five players with 40 or more points. Ryan Lee, who was named the 2017 Liberty League Offensive Player of the Year, leads the team and is tied for fifth in Division III in scoring with 110 points on 64 goals and 46 assists. Lee set RIT's single-season scoring mark on Sunday, breaking the old record of 105 points by Josh Molinari back in 2004. Chad Levick is second in scoring with 97 points on 66 goals and 31 assists. He leads the team with seven game-winning goals. Kyle Killen is third in scoring with 55 points, while Braden Wallace is fourth with 48 points.
Defensively, RIT has allowed 9.36 goals per contest, having held its opponents to fewer than 10 goals 15 times. The Tigers are 361-of-658 (54.9 percent) from the face-off "X" and are averaging 41.9 ground balls and 11.5 caused turnovers per contest.
Jimmy Spillane has taken the majority of RIT's faceoffs, winning 193 of 367 (52.6 percent) this season. Lee leads RIT with 70 ground balls, while JD Hall and Patrick Hannigan lead the team with 29 caused turnovers each. Nick Nesbitt is 18-2 in net this season with a 9.69 goals against average and a .569 save percentage. He has won his last 14 starts, and is 4-0 in the NCAA Tournament with a 9.29 goals against average and a .575 save percentage.
RIT has qualified for the NCAA Tournament 19 times. The Tigers are 24-18 all-time in NCAA Tournament contests. Under coach Jake Coon, the Tigers have made eight straight trips to the NCAA Tournament, including four semifinals appearances and a title game berth in 2013. RIT is 18-7 in NCAA Tournament games under Coon's tutelage.
Salisbury enters the championship game with a 21-1 record in 2017. The Sea Gulls have won six straight games, including a 12-11 victory over No. 7 Denison in Sunday's semifinal. Corey Gwin scored the game winner midway through the fourth quarter, and the Salisbury defense held on down the stretch for the one-goal win. Nick Garbarino led the Sea Gulls with five goals, while Gwin finished with two goals and an assist. Colin Reymann got the win in net, making four saves.
Salisbury has won 11 Division III national championships, including the 2016 title. This is the 30th consecutive year and 36th time overall that Salisbury has qualified for the NCAA Tournament.
The Sea Gulls enter the championship fifth in Division III in scoring, averaging 17.41 goals per game. Salisbury is out-scoring its opponents 383-147 on the season. The Sea Gulls have the sixth-best man-up in Division III, converting 47-of-98 (48.0 percent) of their chances, and have scored 10 or more goals 20 times.
Nathan Blondino is one of three Sea Gulls with 80 or more points. He leads the country with 131 points on 60 goals and 71 assists. Garbarino is second on the team in scoring with 87 points. He leads Salisbury with 67 goals, and is eighth in Division III, averaging 3.72 goals per game. Carson Kalama is third in scoring with 83 points, including 65 goals, and Brendan Bromwell is fourth with 55 points.
Defensively, Salisbury is seventh in Division III, allowing 6.68 goals per contest. The Sea Gulls have won 350-of-599 (58.4 percent) of their face-offs, and average 41.5 ground balls, while causing 11.4 turnovers per game.
Duncan Campbell has taken the majority of the draws, winning 232-of-396 (58.6 percent) this season. T.J. Logue is right behind having won 115-of-196 (58.7 percent) this season. Campbell leads the team with 106 ground balls, while Will Nowesnick leads the Sea Gulls with 42 caused turnovers. Reymann is 20-1 this season. He is second in Division III with a 6.36 goals against average, and has a .550 save percentage.
This will be the first meeting between the two schools.