Pioneers go back-to-back as ORLC champions with win over Washington & Jefferson

Pioneers go back-to-back as ORLC champions with win over Washington & Jefferson

Lexington, Ky. – The Transylvania men's lacrosse team made it back-to-back Ohio River Lacrosse conference championships with a 10-6 victory over Washington & Jefferson Saturday night at Pat Deacon Stadium.

The Pioneers put the finishing touches upon the first four-year cycle of the program with their second straight ORLC championship, sending a group of eight foundational seniors out on top.

The culminating victory completed a 10-6 season for the Pioneers and a powerful run through the regular season and tournament components of the Ohio River Lacrosse Conference, an association in its second year of gameplay.

Transylvania went 7-1 against their ORLC opponents in the regular season and 2-0 in the conference tournament.

The meeting was the second of the season between the Pioneers and Presidents, revisiting each other for the first time since a 7-6 Transy win at Pat Deacon Stadium on March 25.

Like the first game, the margin between the teams in the first half was razor-thin. But in the second half, the Pioneers came out unforgivingly sharp against Washington & Jefferson, scoring the first four goals and never looking back. The 30th through 45th minutes of the game belonged to Transylvania as they outscored Washington & Jefferson, 3 to 0. The Pioneers won the fourth quarter 3 to 2 to complete their second half of outstanding play.

"The boys have played strong since spring break," reflected a composed head coach Terry Justice after raising the ORLC tournament trophy for the second straight year. "This group of young men have been great to work with."

After Washington & Jefferson scored the first goal of the game, Justice's men went right to work. Ryan Staley scored the first goal of the game for the hometown side with 9:09 left in the first quarter, and senior Sam Ives registered the second goal of the game just seconds later after winning the face-off and darting for the net.

"I know Sam was a stud on face-offs today, and his two goals were huge for us," added Justice.

Ives's other goal came in the fourth quarter and gave Transylvania a 9-5 lead with less than six minutes to go in a storm-coated championship evening.

Josh Mesmer and Zack Riggs provided answering goals to the Presidents' second goal of the game as Transylvania tooka  4-2 lead. From there, Transylvania went cold the rest of the first half and the Presidents labored the rest of the half to tie the game at 4-4.

"One of the things we have worked on since spring break is getting faster and stronger to the loose ball," added Justice. That devotion became evident in the second 30 minutes of play as the Pioneers pulled away.

Transylvania's second half was galvanized by a clear advantage in possession, as they captured 38 ground balls to Washington & Jefferson's 20. The Pioneers were nearly perfect again on clears, going 22-for-24 on rides. Transy won the battle of turnover margin by three, and won 14-of-19 face-offs.

With defense serving as the hallmark of the program since its inception, the Pioneers utilized staggering defense to limit the Presidents to just two goals in the second half.     

Coach Justice had additional praise for his team and the seniors who played in their final collegiate games on Saturday: "This group of young men have been great to work with. When I recruited them, Transylvania didn't have a field for us to play or practice on, but they came anyway. They worked hard, and they have had success, and have never had a losing season."

The sizzling finish to the 2016 campaign for the Pioneers mirrors their final stretch of their 2015 season, when they won their final six straight games, including the ORLC championship game against St. Vincent.

In 2016, the Pioneers complete their season on a seven-game winning streak, their longest of the season as well as the longest in program history.

For more on Transylvania men's lacrosse, follow their official twitter @Transy_Lax