By Tommy Chasanoff, NAIA Lacrosse National Invitational Media Coordinator
Greenville, S.C. – (Box Score) Second Seed Reinhardt (Ga.) scored five second half goals to defeat No. 4 Keiser (Fla.), 10-5, to win its first NAIA Invitational Championship at the 2017 NAIA Invitational Saturday at Sirrine Stadium. With the win the Eagles finish the season with a 16-1 record, while the Seahawks fall to 10-2.
Both teams came out with strong defensive efforts as the two teams combined for one goal on 17 shots in the first quarter. Reinhardt got on the board first as Bennett Jarrett connected with the tournament most valuable player Jeff Mathis for a goal with 9:12 remaining in the first quarter. Keiser had a couple opportunities to even the score but Austin Ambrose made five saves to keep the score 1-0.
Jacob Bomberry and Eddie Grieco netted back-to-back to start the second quarter and give the Seahawks a 2-1 lead with 9:46 remaining. Reinhardt responded with pair of goals, both of which were assisted by Kevon James to take a 3-2 advantage. The two teams traded goals before Mathis put a well-placed shot into back of the cage to give the Eagles a 5-3 lead at halftime.
Reinhardt came out strong in the second half and outshot the Seahawks 10-5 in the third period. Connor Mills added an unassisted goal at the 7:41 mark to extend their lead to 6-3. The score remained that way until the 1:58 mark when Mills found Artie Lewis in front of the cage for a goal.
Reinhardt started the fourth quarter by added two additional goals to give them a 10-3 advantage with 4:12 remaining. Keiser started to rally as Grieco and Nolan Duncan scored back-to-back goals to cut it to 10-5 with 1:25 left. Keiser was unable to get any closer as Reinhardt ran out the clock for the 10-5 final.
Leading the way for Reinhardt was Grant Sufferling and Mathis. Sufferling went 13-18 on the faceoff and scooped a team-high eight ground balls. Mathis, James, Mills, and Cole Hennings each recorded three points for the Eagles. Ambrose finished the game with 12 saves between the pipes.
Grieco led the way for Keiser with three goals, while Craig Marentette dished out a pair of assists. Jake Padden made ten saves in goal, while Zachary Sjogreen picked up five ground balls.
Keiser finishes as the 2017 Men's Lacrosse National Invitational runner-up.
For more information on the NAIA Lacrosse National Invitational, click here.
2017 NAIA Men's Lacrosse National Invitational Most Valuable Player – Jeff Mathis, Reinhardt (Ga.)
2017 NAIA Men's Lacrosse National Invitational – All-Tournament Team
Jace Childs, Indiana Tech
Andrew Legg, Missouri Valley
Ryan Barnes, Missouri Valley
Jake Padden, Keiser (Fla.)
Justin Stone, Keiser (Fla.)
Justin Flint, Keiser (Fla.)
Craig Marentette, Keiser (Fla.)
Trey Whittemore, Reinhardt (Ga.)
Tony Herrington, Reinhardt (Ga.)
Brent Johnson, Reinhardt (Ga.)
Kevon James, Reinhardt (Ga.)
Grant Sufferling, Reinhardt (Ga.)