Burnes and Witheford Earn IMLCA Honors, Four Named All-America

SCHENECTADY, ​​NY – led by head coach Derek Whiteford ’11Union’s coaching staff was named the Division III National Coaching Staff of the Year and senior peter burnes was named the National Offensive Player of the Year as the Union men’s lacrosse team earned multiple All-America and All-Region honors from the Intercollegiate Men’s Lacrosse Coaches Association last week.

In addition to Burnes, junior midfielder Jake Titus was also named to the IMLCA All-America first team and senior defender Matt Belluche earned All-America second-team recognition as well.

The staff of Witheford, Marcel Godino and Nate Brucealong with student assistants Kyle Emery ’22 and Sean MacKinnon ’22, helped to produce one of the most successful seasons in Union history in 2022, winning a program-record 18 games and becoming just the third Union team to reach a national championship game. The team started the year with a program-record 10 straight victories and won four NCAA Tournament games, doubling the previous program record, despite playing a schedule with 10 nationally ranked opponents and an opponents’ winning percentage of .708 (fifth highest in D- III). Union was nationally ranked in every poll this year and has been in the USILA national rankings in every week of Witheford’s three-year tenure as head coach.

Burnes, who was previously named to the IMLCA All-Region 2 first team, adds another All-America first-team accolade and the national Player of the Year recognition to his incredible list of honors from 2022. The attacker finished the season with 61 goals and 27 assists for 88 points, sitting second in program history in both categories for a single season. He saved some of his best work from him for the biggest games, averaging 4.2 points per game against nationally ranked opposition and over 4.5 points per contest in five NCAA Tournament games. Burnes also finished third on the team in caused turnovers (16) and sixth in ground balls (46) as well.

Titus is one of only three juniors on the senior- and graduate-laden first team, adding IMLCA first-team honors to his USILA second-team recognition. An All-Region 2 first-team pick, Titus was instrumental to the success of the Union’s faceoff and defensive units this season, ranking third on the team with 61 ground balls and causing 12 turnovers. He also finished the year with a career-high 14 points, scoring eight goals and adding six assists.

Belluche had a fantastic season in his second year as a starter, leading all Union defenders with 46 ground balls and 27 caused turnovers. A USILA All-America first-team selection, he tied for third in the Liberty League in caused turnovers and also recorded the first four points of his collegiate career with two goals and two assists.

In addition to the All-America honors, five Union players received All-Region 2 recognition as well from the IMLCA last week. Sophomore face-off specialist matthew paolatto was named to the All-Region second team, while senior midfielders Brian Davis and Kieran McGovernsenior defenseman Ryan Puglisi and sophomore goalie Dan Donahue all earned All-Region honorable mention as well.

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