Photo by: Chris Grill
LEXINGTON, Ky.— The Transylvania University men's lacrosse team took a controlling 5-0 lead in the first quarter and never looked back, as seven Pioneers scored en route to a 12-5 win over Saint Vincent College in the inaugural Ohio River Lacrosse Conference Championship Sunday at Pat Deacon Stadium.
"This was a huge win for a program in its third year," head coach Terry Justice said. "We struggled a little early, but we told the guys to stay the course and they came out and worked hard all year. I'm really proud of the way they prepared and the way they competed."
After winning the ORLC semifinal match Friday, the Pioneers looked the claim the first ever conference title and that they did in impressive fashion.
The Pioneers have relied on efficient play from both sides of the ball and that was evident Sunday, as the offensive and defensive units were in sync. Transy denied St. Vincent twice on early possessions setting the tone for the rest of the contest. Transy forced two Bearcat turnovers early leading to the opening score with 9:54 left in the first quarter.
Goalkeeper Cooper Fogle and the Pioneer defense continued their stingy play once again denying St. Vincent of a score. Matthew Parker forced a Bearcat turnover giving the Pioneers possession which led to a score from Zack Riggs extending the Transy lead to 3-0 with 7:10 left in the first.
As time wound down in the first period, Clay Douthat found the back of the net with 1:05 putting the Pioneers in prime position for their first conference title.
The Pioneers kept the momentum into the second period, as yet another forced turnover from the Transy defense led to a score. Ives caused a turnover from St. Vincent's Anthony Hogeback, as Brendan Thompson scooped the groundball. Thompson found Erwin for the score putting the Pioneers up big, 6-0.
St. Vincent answered with three unanswered goals on its next three possessions to cut the lead to 6-3, but the Pioneers answered with 1:25 left in the half on a goal from Gus Burge to take a 7-3 lead into the locker room.
The Bearcats logged the first goal of the second half as Nick Pensyl helped narrow the Transy lead to 7-4 nearly four minutes into play.
The Pioneer defense thwarted three St. Vincent possessions, forcing two turnovers which lead to another goal from Watts. Douthat connected with Watts for the score following a St. Vincent penalty giving the Pioneers a man-up goal for an 8-4 lead with 7:24 to go in the third.
Douthat later found Brendan Thompson for another score putting the Pioneers up five, 9-4, with just over three minutes left in the third.
Watts netted his third score of the game with 10:00 remaining tying the largest lead on the contest, 10-4. St. Vincent's Brendon Masten logged the final score for the Bearcats cutting the Pioneer lead back to five, before Transy sealed the win with two more scores.
Riggs and Roby each added their second scores before time expired helping the Pioneers to the first ever ORLC title.
The Pioneers finished the regular season atop the ORLC after posting a 6-1 record in conference play helping clinch the No. 1 seed for the championship tournament.
This season marks the first of competition after members of the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference, along with the Presidents Athletic Conference merged to form the ORLC.
Justice and his team wait a potential at-large bid for the NCAA tournament. The NCAA Division III Selection show airs tonight at 9 p.m. and can be viewed here.