RIT Scores Four in Last Two Minutes, Stuns Stevenson in OT
RIT celebrates an improbable win over top-ranked Stevenson at the Carrier Dome on Saturday. The second-ranked Tigers trailed by six goals going into the fourth quarter and by four with less than two minutes remaining before rallying to tie the game and winning it 15-14 in overtime. (Greg Wall)
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SYRACUSE, N.Y – Thirty-four years to the day after Al Michaels famously asked, "Do you believe in miracles?" during an Olympic hockey game, RIT lacrosse fans Saturday witnessed an ending at the Carrier Dome that would lead some to answer, "Yes."
Down six goals going into the fourth quarter and down four goals with less than two minutes remaining, the No. 2 Tigers put together a memorable comeback to send their season opener against No. 1 Stevenson into overtime. Then only 1:43 into the extra session, Taylor Wisman's game winner put the bow on a thrilling 15-14 victory for RIT in a rematch of the 2013 NCAA Division III men's lacrosse championship game.
"I mean it came down to a last-second shot that went in off the goalie's stick," Wisman said. "We just kept chipping away one goal at a time, as we've been doing all practice and last year."
In doing so, the Tigers took home a heavy dose of revenge that was nine months in the making.
Trailing 13-7 after the third quarter, RIT narrowed the gap to 14-10 before the final flurry. Attack Casey Jackson, playing in his first game with RIT, started the rally with just 90 seconds remaining. He took a pass from Allister Warren and immediately fired a bullet past Mustang goalie Dimitri Pecunes.
Following another Jackson goal with just 57 seconds remaining, Warren cashed in his only goal with 0:28 showing on the clock to cut the lead to one.
Then, after another faceoff win for Tyler Brooks-Lamb and a shot that went wide, Jackson had one chance to keep the game going.
He did, scoring just before the buzzer with 0.2 seconds remaining, and both the crowd and the RIT sideline went berserk. Tigers coach Jake Coon could only describe the scene with one word.
"Crazy," Coon said. "We work hard every day on the practice field for those situations, and I give our guys credit for being resilient and sticking with it and fighting back."
One minute into overtime, the game turned when Stevenson was handed a taste of its own medicine.
When the two teams squared off in last season's opener, the Mustangs asked for a stick check following a late RIT goal. This time, it was the other way around, and there was an actual violation.
"We had noticed that one of their faceoff guys may have had an illegal stick earlier in the game," Coon said. "It's kinda sad that you gotta play with an illegal stick all day."
Justin Buonomo was sent to the sideline for a three-minute penalty, and the Tigers soon found their opening to capitalize.
Warren fired a shot on net that was deflected wide. Pecunes went after the rebound, but failed to come up with the ball. Caught in no man's land, he could only watch Wisman's winning tally roll into the cage.
It only took about four minutes of actual game clock for the Tigers to complete their victorious recovery. But given the recent history between the two teams, the win will be savored for much longer.
During the run, Wisman said there was no panic among the Tigers. Although it appeared they might need a miracle, all they needed to do was tilt their heads down to find the winning formula.
"On our shirt, it says, "Finish,'" Wisman said. "That's our motto, and that's what we did."
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