Union College Men’s Lacrosse Excited To Compete For A National Championship

Peter Burns and the Union College men’s lacrosse team will compete for its first-ever national championship on Sunday against RIT. (PHOTO COURTESY: Betsy Matthew/Union Athletics)

By Matt Noonan

“We’re going to the national championship,” said Union College men’s lacrosse coach Derek Witheford.

“It feels good to say.”

Witheford and his Dutchmen should feel excited about competing in this Sunday’s NCAA Division III championship where they will square off against Liberty League (LL) foe Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT).  

The two teams met earlier this spring with RIT snapping Union’s 10-game winning streak with a 14-13 victory.

Unlike RIT, Union has never won nor appeared in a national championship, but they will certainly be ready to contend for a title as the Dutchmen will arrive in Hartford, Connecticut with a great deal of momentum following two hard-fought wins last weekend.

Union needed a pair of late tallies to seal a quarterfinal win last Saturday over Gettysburg College. Kieran McGovern tied the game at 13-13 before Keaton McCann buried the game-winner with nine seconds left.

On Sunday, Union jumped out to a 6-1 advantage before relying on its defense to fend off a second-half surge to defeat York College, 11-8. Dan Donahue turned aside 16 shots to secure his 17th win between the pipes.

Said Witheford, “Top to bottom, we played pretty stout defensively. And Dan saved the shots that he should of, and he definitely stole some, as well.”  

Added Donahue, “I can’t say enough about the defense. They allowed me to see good shots from 15, 16-yards (out) and that’s probably the best I have seen them play and I can’t thank them enough.”

Donahue, along with the defense, will be tested on Sunday against an RIT team that has scored 20 goals or more in four postseason contests. The Tigers topped Tufts University, 26-15, in its semifinal after beating Bowdoin College one day earlier in the quarterfinals.   

Since 2005, RIT has beaten Union in 22 of 24 contests with Union’s last win over the Tigers occurring in 2008. The Tigers beat the Dutchmen in the 2019 NCAA Tournament (10-9), as well as last season in the Liberty League semifinals.

RIT is the defending champion – they beat Salisbury University last year in double-overtime and seek their second title in program history.

Brian Davis, a senior midfielder that transferred to Union after being redshirted at the University of Delaware, is excited to compete against the Tigers once more with hopes of Sunday’s meeting ending with a victory for the Dutchmen.

“I got word (shortly after our game with York concluded) that we’re playing RIT, and three of my seasons have been ended by RIT, so (hopefully) it’s a storybook ending,” said Davis.

“We’re super-excited to be there.”

Sunday’s championship between Union and RIT will commence at 1 p.m. Fans can watch the game on NCAA.com.

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