RIT men’s lacrosse run comes to a close with title game loss

Tigers lost 18-14 in championship game on Sunday

Traci Westcott/RIT

The RIT men’s lacrosse team huddles after Sunday’s national title game. The team lost 18-14 to Tufts University.

A third national title in four years proved not to be in the cards Sunday for RIT’s men’s lacrosse team.

The Tigers dropped an 18-14 decision to Tufts University on Sunday at Philadelphia’s Lincoln Financial Field. The game headed to the fourth quarter tied at 13-13, but a late surge propelled Tufts to the title.

The Tigers finished the season 21-3. They had beaten Tufts in the regular season, beating the Jumbos 16-11 at the Mustang Classic.

Attackman Luke Pilcher had three goals for RIT. Graduate student Jake Erickson and senior Kaden Brunson each had two goals. Senior John Mozrall had one goal and four assists, and junior Clifford Gaston had a goal and an assist. With the two points, Gaston tied the program’s single-season record for points with 111.

“I’m very proud of our guys and how they’ve dealt with adversity” since their run began during the pandemic, Head Coach Jake Coon said after the game. “We’ve been to three title games in four years and that’s really impressive. I can’t say enough about our senior group.”

Equally impressive was the fan support. Tiger fans showed up early and stayed late to support their team. Lots of orange in the stands shone brightly on a hot, sunny Philadelphia afternoon.

The Tigers earned titles in 2021 and 2022. In 2021, they beat Salisbury State University 15-14 in a heart-pounding double-overtime thriller. In 2022, they topped conference rival Union 12-10. Sunday was the Tiger’s fifth title-game appearance. This is the third time the Tigers have lost in the title game. This was the 14th straight NCAA tournament appearance for the Tigers, and 25th overall.

“These last four years have been a roller coaster but getting to play an extra month of lacrosse in May has been a joy and a treat, and it should be cherished,” Mozrall said after Sunday’s game.

Even with Sunday’s loss, the numbers during this four-year run are eye-popping. Seventy-eight wins and just six losses. A winning percentage of 94 percent. Four straight Final Four appearances. More than 1,450 goals, a 17.3 goals per game clip. Another 10 All-Americans this year, including Michael Grace, named Division III’s most outstanding defenseman. That makes 36 All-Americans over the last four seasons. Three straight 20-win seasons, with an undefeated, COVID-shortened 14-0 year in 2021.

Just as impressive has been the community that has sprung up around the program. Tiger fans were waiting when the parking lots at “the Linc” opened at 9 a.m. By the time the game started at 1 p.m., they were in full voice and ready to cheer on their team.

Former RIT attackman Quinn Commandant ’22 was in town to support his brother, Caleb, a starting long-stick midfielder. Quinn sported his two national championship rings and said he wouldn’t have been anywhere else today.

“I’m watching 54 brothers, as well,” he said. “I happen to have one brother I grew up with, but these guys are family.” 

Tom Bruno, of Chicago, echoed that sentiment. His two sons Dylan and Chase both saw the field on Sunday. His son Noah was on the team in 2023, meaning the Brunos had the rare distinction of having three siblings on the same team at once.

“This is a great group of young men and a great group of families,” Tom said. “There’s a family atmosphere.”

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