By Andrew Stinchfield
Union opened up tournament play when they hosted Montclair State last Wednesday night. Montclair State went into the game with a great deal of momentum, since the team had won its last 10 games.
However, Union took an early 2-1 lead in the first quarter and then completely dominated the rest of the game. The team ran off nine unanswered goals to put the game out of reach. The Dutchmen went on to win the contest 12-5 and attack Nate Greenberg ‘14 matched a career high with three goals. Ted McKenna ‘12, Jack Farrell ‘12 and John Andrews ‘14 contributed to Union’s offensive explosion with each of them scoring twice.
Statistically, Union dominated every aspect of the game. They held a 45-29 advantage on ground balls and won 16-of-21 face-offs with Alex Stone ‘13 and Farrell both finishing 8-of-10 on the night. McKenna hit an impressive career milestone in netting his 100th career goal with a picturesque diving shot in the second quarter.
After an impressive opening round victory, Union went on to host Number 11 Bowdoin last Saturday in a second round match up where many felt the Dutchmen were the underdogs. Bowdoin (14-5) earned an at-large bid to the tournament after finishing third in the NESCAC regular season and advancing to the conference finals eventually losing a double-overtime game to Tufts, who are the defending national champions.
The game opened at a slow pace, where both teams traded goals in the opening quarter. Attack Rob Santangelo ‘14 opened the scoring for the Dutchmen and goals from attackers Nolan Connors ‘13 and Ethan Meyer ‘12 helped give the team a two-goal advantage heading into halftime.
All season, Union has been a strong second half team, where they have outscored their competition 95-54. The team came out hungry and tenacious in the second half, which was perhaps sparked by an energetic fan base. McKenna scored three fourth quarter goals to ice the game for the Dutchmen and give the team a 10-4 victory.
With the team’s second round victory over Bowdoin, Union will now go on to face perennial powerhouse SUNY Cortland in the national quarterfinals. The other quarterfinal games are Cabrini versus Salisbury, RIT versus Tufts and Stevenson versus Denison.
Union has its plate full, as SUNY Cortland’s Red Dragons are undefeated on the season with an impressive 19-0 record. Union and Cortland faced one another earlier in the season, where the Red Dragons narrowly squeaked out a 6-4 victory.
This is your typical David versus Goliath scenario. Union is already making history, as the program has never gone this far in the national tournament. Cortland, on the other hand, has the pressure of preserving that perfect 19-0 record where year after year they are considered a national contender. However, an upset is completely reasonable and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Union escape with a victory.
Stone has emerged as one of the best face-off men in the country and has won the face-off battle in 12 of 14 games this season. In addition, Union will have one of the best goalies in the nation between the pipes with Sean Aaron ‘12. Union has a chance to win this game and move on to the semifinals if they can win the possession battle and keep Cortland’s powerful offense in check.