ROCHESTER, N.Y. – The two-time defending Division III national champion RIT Men’s Lacrosse Team opens its 2023 campaign on Saturday (Feb. 18) at Muhlenberg. Here are the top six things you need to know about the Tigers heading into the season.
1. A LOOK BACK
RIT capped off a 22-1 season with a 12-10 come-from-behind victory over Union to win its second straight NCAA Championship last May. The Tigers have won 12-straight conference championships, including the last 10 Liberty League crowns, and made 12-straight NCAA Tournament appearances and 23 overall.
The Tigers finished last season first in Division III in assists (259) and clearing percentage (91.0%) and were second in the country in points (670) and ground balls (939).
2. OFFENSIVE FIREPOWER RETURNS
RIT returns three of its top-six scorers in 2023, including 2023 USILA Preseason First Team All-American Luke Pilcher. The senior attack led the team in scoring last season with a career-high 89 points and 66 goals. Sophomore attack Clifford Gaston finished fifth on the team in scoring with 47 points, including a goal against Union in the national championship. Senior attack Spencer Bell tallied 34 goals and 45 points last season, while junior midfielder John Mozrall (14g, 22a, 36 pts.) and senior midfielders Dylan Bruno (16g, 11a, 27pts.) and Zeb Hollinger (16g, 6a, 22 pts.) all return.
USILA Preseason First Team All-American Michael Grace returns for 2023. He finished second on the team with 20 caused turnovers and third with 59 ground balls. Senior Zach Gagnon returns after starting all 23 games last season and was fourth on the team with 16 caused turnovers and 38 ground balls. Seniors Tanner Winklemann and Drew Leahy all return after seeing significant action in 2022.
4. VETERANS LEADERS AT LSM AND D-MID
Fifth-year senior long-stick midfielder Taylor Jensen leads a talented group of returning defensive and long-stick midfielders. The 2022 USILA Long Pole Award winner and 2023 Preseason First Team All-American led the team with 47 caused turnovers in 2022. He finished second on the team with 78 ground balls and was named the Most Outstanding Player of the Liberty League Tournament. Senior long-stick midfielder Joe Camp (19 CT’s, 37 GB’s) and junior Caleb Commandant (13CT’s, 28 GB’s) return for the 2023 season.
Seniors Sean Traynor and Caiden Perry return along with senior transfer Noah Bruno. Traynor had 23 ground balls last season, while Perry had a career-high 10 ground balls. A 2023 USILA Pre-Season All-American, Bruno was a CSL All-Conference selection last season at York (Pa.).
5. FAST STARTERS
RIT outscored its opponents 231-89 in the first half in 2022, including 121-43 in the first quarter. The Tigers trailed only twice at halftime, averaging 10.04 goals per game in the first half, while allowing 3.9 goals. RIT dominated the third quarter, outscoring its opponents 99-63, including shutting out two opponents.
6. 2023 SCHEDULE
Fourteenth-year head coach Jake Coon and the Tigers are scheduled to play 17 regular season games, including seven in the Liberty League. The Tigers will play seven home games, and 10 on the road. Seven of RIT’s 17 opponents are ranked in the USILA Division Poll, while six teams played in the 2022 NCAA Tournament.
RIT plays 10 non-conference games including a road game at Muhlenberg on Feb. 18 to begin the season. The Tigers host Bates (Feb. 25), Nazareth (March 1) and York (March 4). RIT will play Ursinus at Homewood Field (March 11) and Christopher Newport and Stevenson at the Mustang Classic (March 17-18). The Tigers host St. John Fisher (March 22), at Cortland (March 29) and at Geneseo (April 19).
RIT begins Liberty League play at Vassar on March 25. The Tigers host RPI (Apr. 1) and at Union (Apr. 8) in a rematch of the 2021 national championship. RIT hosts Ithaca (Apr. 12) before a road game at Clarkson (Apr. 15). The Tigers host Skidmore (Apr. 22) and close out the regular season against St. Lawrence (Apr. 29).
Union (No. 5), St. Lawrence (No. 13) and RPI (No. 17) are all ranked in the USILA Division III Coaches Poll. Union played RIT in the 2022 national championship, while St. Lawrence and RPI competed in the NCAA Tournament.