NCAA Championship Central
SCHENECTADY, NY –
The #8/10 Union College men’s lacrosse team has earned an at-large berth into the 2022 NCAA Div. III Championship and will be hosting second- and third-round action on Saturday, May 14 and Sunday, May 15 at Frank Bailey Field at Bertagna-Class of 1985 Stadium.
GAME DETAILS: Union College will take on John Carroll University in Saturday’s first game at 12:00 pm, followed by the University of Lynchburg and Western New England University in the second game at 3 pm Sunday’s third-round game is scheduled for 3 pm between the winners of Saturday’s two contests. Single-day ticket prices are $8 for adults, $4 for Union students with ID and children under 12. The first 300 Union students (with College ID) will be admitted FREE courtesy of Student Forum and the Department of Athletics!
LIVE COVERAGE: Union will provide a free live video stream for all games in Schenectady this weekend and live stats for all games will also be available. Fans can also follow all the action via social media by following Union Men’s Lacrosse on Twitter.
NCAA TOURNAMENT HISTORY: Union is making its sixth NCAA Tournament appearance and first since the 2019 season. Union is 7-5 all-time in the NCAAs, including a perfect 6-0 record at Frank Bailey Field, and has won at least one game in all five previous appearances. The Dutchmen have reached the quarterfinals twice, winning first- and second-round games in 2012 and 2014.
A FAMILY MEMBER FOES: Union has never played John Carroll or Lynchburg on the lacrosse field in program history. The Dutchmen are 2-5 all-time against Western New England, but the teams have not met since 2007.
HOW UNION GOT HERE: Union (14-2, 6-1 Liberty League) is the only team in its pod to receive a Pool C bid into the NCAA Tournament, after the Dutchmen fell to #10 St. Lawrence University in the Liberty League Tournament semifinals. Despite the loss, Union built up an excellent resume by posting a 14-1 record during the regular season, as evidenced by the team finishing second in Region II according to the final NCAA regional rankings.
GIVE ME FREEDOM: The Liberty League proved to be one of the toughest conferences in Division III this season and was rewarded with four NCAA Tournament berths, tied with the NESCAC for the most of any conference. Conference schools posted a combined 56-8 record in non-conference play during the regular season, with Union leading the way by recording its first undefeated non-conference slate (8-0) ever.
TO TOUGH ROAD: Twelve of Union’s 16 games so far this season have come against regionally ranked teams, with the Dutchmen posting a 10-2 record in those contests. In all, Union’s opponents have a combined .657 winning percentage this season, the 13th-highest in Division III. The Dutchmen are 5-2 in games against nationally ranked opposition this year, including wins over #3 Tufts University and #5 St. John Fisher College.
UNION IN THE POLLS: The Dutchmen have been ranked in every national poll this season, having been ranked no lower than 12th in the USILA or Inside Lacrosse rankings. Union has been ranked as high as third in the IL media poll and fourth in the USILA coaches poll in 2022, the highest ranking for the program since the 2015 team was ranked third in the USILA poll.
THEY’D BE HONORED: Union tied a program record with 10 All-Liberty League selections this season. Senior peter burnes was the first player in program history to earn conference Offensive Player of the Year honors, and was joined on the first team by senior Matt Belluchejunior Jake Titus and sophomore matthew paolatto. Seniors Brian Davis, Hayden Frey, Kieran McGovern and Ryan Puglisias well as junior Clint Gourdeau and sophomore Dan Donahueall earned All-Conference second-team honors.
EXCLUSIVE COMPANY: With his fourth straight All-Liberty League second-team honor, senior Hayden Frey is just the second player in program history to earn four All-Conference nods in a career. He joins former Dutchman All-American and current head coach Derek Whiteford ’11, who earned four straight honors from 2008-11, on the exclusive list. Frey enters the weekend seventh in school history in career points (160) and 10th in career goals (104).
X MARKS THE SPOT: Union boasts one of the nation’s top one-two punches at the faceoff X in senior Sam Byrne and sophomore matthew paolatto. Paolatto ranks 11th in Division III by winning 141 of his 200 draws (70.5 percent), while Byrne has won 121 of 207 draws (58.5 percent) to rank 70th. In total, Union ranks 19th in the country by winning 65.2 percent of its draws so far in 2022.
SPREADING THE WEALTH: All three of Union’s starting attackmen have earned Liberty League Offensive Player of the Week awards this season. Senior Hayden Frey has earned the honor twice, while classmates peter burnes and Keaton McCann both have been selected once. With all three players over the 50-point plateau on the season, it marks the first time in program history that three Union teammates recorded 50 or more points in the same season.
FEELING THE BURNES: Senior peter burnes is having one of the best offensive seasons in recent program history. The attacker is tied for sixth all-time at Union with 45 goals and is five away from becoming just the third player ever at Union to score 50 goals in a season. His 65 points from him so far in 2022 leave him 10th for a single season at Union.
MCCANNCAN: senior fellow Keaton McCann enters the weekend in a tie for seventh all-time at Union with 108 career goals and 15th with 146 career points. His career average of 1.77 goals per game is the seventh-best mark ever at the school.
AWARD-WINNING: Sophomore Dan Donahue was honored as the Liberty League Defensive Player of the Week in each of the team’s first five weeks of competition this season, the most times ever that a Union player has been recognized in a single season. Donahue enters the NCAA Tournament with a 13-2 record, a 9.53 goals against average and a .572 save percentage.
ABOUT THE BLUE STREAKS: John Carroll (17-2, 8-1 OAC), the top team receiving votes in the USILA coaches poll, earned a sixth straight Ohio Athletic Conference title and NCAA Tournament appearance with a 10-4 win over Baldwin Wallace University on Saturday to reach the NCAA Tournament, and then defeated North Central College by an 11-3 score in the first round of the tournament on Wednesday to make it to Schenectady.
John Carroll enters the weekend outscoring its opponents by nearly 10 goals per game, thanks in large part to a defense that ranks second in the country by allowing only 6.63 goals per contest and a transition attack that successfully clears at a 89.9 percent rate (sixth in D-III). Jon Gaglio ranks fifth in Division III with a 7.03 goals against average to go with a .588 save percentage, while Brendan Hein leads the defensive unit with 69 ground balls and 20 caused turnovers. Offensively, Matt Berdysiak ranks 12th in the country in scoring average with 72 goals in 19 games, while leading playmaker Brendan Whitty sits 10th in the country with 54 assists (3.17 apg) and ranks 10th among active Division III players with 311 career points.
ABOUT THE HORNETS: Lynchburg (15-4, 9-1 ODAC), which enters the week ranked 11th in both the USILA coaches poll and Inside Lacrosse media rankings, captured its ninth Old Dominion Athletic Conference title and earned the program’s 15th NCAA Tournament berth with an 18-7 win over Hampden-Sydney College on Sunday. The Hornets boast the ninth-highest scoring offense in Division III this year, averaging 17.63 goals per game, thanks in part to an efficient offense that scores on a nation-best 37.9 percent of its shots. The team also ranks second in the country with a man-up offense that is 30-for-56 (53.6 percent) on the year.
Ryan Kenney has a team-best 66 goals to rank 25th in the country in goals per game, while primary facilitator Kyle Lewis sits 11th in the country in assist average with his program-record 59 assists to go with 31 goals. Chris Darminio leads the defensive effort with a team-leading 84 ground balls and 24 caused turnovers. Tyler Hadley and Patrick Moore have both seen plenty of time in goal for the Hornets, but Hadley (9-1, 8.16 goals against average, .538 save percentage) has seen the bulk of the work over the last month.
ABOUT THE GOLDEN BEARS: Western New England (14-5, 8-0 CCC), which is receiving votes in the USILA coaches poll, was crowned champions of the Commonwealth Coast Conference for the ninth time and earned the program’s 11th NCAA Tournament berth with an 18-10 win over Endicott College on Saturday. The Golden Bears are one of the best teams in the country at taking care of the ball, ranking eighth in Division III in clearing percentage (88.8 percent) and 19th in fewest turnovers per game (16.32/gm).
The WNE offense is led by CCC Offensive Player of the Year Matt Greer, who has scored 32 goals and ranks 22nd in the country in assists per game with a team-best 52 assists in 19 outings. Leading scorer Jared Newall has been lethal in man-up opportunities, leading the country with 14 man-up tallies as part of his team-leading 56 goals. Defensively, Mitch Weiss was named the CCC Defensive Player of the Year and leads all field players with 56 ground balls while causing 17 turnovers. Carter Randall has started every game in goal for Western New England, posting a 10.09 goals against average and .538 save percentage.
WHAT’S NEXT: The winner of this weekend’s pod will advance to the quarterfinal round on May 21. The national semifinals follow at the same site on May 22, and the Division III national championship game is set for Sunday, May 29 at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, Conn. . The full bracket can be viewed here.