The 15-3 Union Men’s Lacrosse team will make their second trip to the Elite 8 in three years. The Dutchmen faced RIT, ranked #1 in the nation, on Wednesday.
Thriving off of an extremely solid core of seniors, a deep and productive bench and phenomenal team chemistry, the Dutchmen look to take revenge on Liberty League rival #1 RIT, who handed them two of their three losses this season.
Led by captains Rob Santangelo ’14, Greg Mooney ’14, Stephen Melia ’14, Nate Greenberg ’14 and Stefan Basile ’15, the #9 ranked Dutchmen seem to be poised for a national championship run, but will have to get through RIT first.
A huge part of the Dutchmen’s success this season has come from their stellar play at home. They capped off an undefeated record on their home turf of Frank Bailey Field this past Saturday with a huge 17-11 NCAA tournament win over #12 Amherst.
While the team has had many key contributors throughout the season, the exceptional play of their attack-men, Rob Santangelo, Charlie Ross ’15, Rich Gregory ’15 and Nolan Stauffer ’16 have wreaked havoc on opposing defenders and goaltenders.
The four attackers have combined for 88 goals and 138 points in 18 games this season.
All four of the attack-men were instrumental in their exciting victory over Amherst. Santangelo led them in scoring with six points (four goals and two assists). Ross posted a hat-trick. Gregory and Stauffer scored, as well.
The keys to success for the Dutchmen this season haven’t just come from their offensive firepower, however, but also from very solid defensive play.
Attack-man Charlie Ross says that everyone on the team refers to the defensemen as “the backbone and the glue of [the] team that holds us together every game.” Much of the defensive credit is given to captain Stephen Melia along with Tanner Jones ’14, Adam Sands ’15 and Kyle McQuiggan ’14.
Included in the team’s defensemen is 2014 Liberty League Defensive Player of the Year Stefan Basile. His stellar playing has been truly exceptional to watch.
He makes incredible saves at key moments, and he always seems to give the Dutchmen a chance to win.
Without great goaltending, it’s very difficult to win, and Basile has definitely been good for the team down the stretch.
The team’s highly productive attack, consistent defensive play and goaltending, strong senior leadership and heavy contributions from the first years have been instrumental to their success.
According to face-off specialist Connor Hall ’15, “The seniors set the tone and everyone else seems to follow.”
Hall also claims that because they have such a deep bench and have been receiving strong contributions from their first years, the Dutchmen have been very good in the second half. The deep bench means the team is well rested throughout the games, and they always have fresh and productive legs available when needed.
Hall himself has emerged as a key asset to the Dutchmen this year. Face-off specialists do not seem to get as much attention as defenders or attackers. However, honorary assistant coach and former player Brad Woodruff ’15 believes that Hall has emerged as an integral part of the team’s success this year.
Over the course of the season, Hall has posted a .539 faceoff percentage, winning 166 of 308 attempts, and has been recognized as honorable mention for the All-Liberty League team.
This Union Men’s Lacrosse team has been playing for something much more than a national championship this year, however.
When they heard the news that their teammate, friend and captain Nate Greenberg had been diagnosed with cancer and was forced to leave school (and the team) for the year in order to receive chemotherapy back home, the men’s lacrosse team, along with entire campus community, was severely heartbroken.
They were devastated that such a great kid and leader would not be out on the field representing the garnet and white colors with them this year.
With the school community behind them, the men’s lacrosse team has bound together, playing with heavy hearts all season. They have honored Nate Greenberg with the slogan, “In it together! #NG3.”
Nate has been a huge inspiration for all of his teammates this spring, and we all hope he continues to make a fast and comfortable recovery!
Overall, the Dutchmen had a huge task ahead of them on Wednesday.
We’re all “in it together” with the team, as well! Go U, and beat RIT!