Madonna Used Balanced Scoring to Advance to National Title Game
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Top-seed Madonna (Mich.) had five different players net at least one goal which held off a late surge to defeat No. 4 Cumberlands (Ky.) 10-8 in the semifinals of the NAIA Men’s Lacrosse Invitational Friday night at the AQ Athletic Field. With the win, the Crusaders advances to their first NAIA Invitational Championship game and improve to 22-0, while the Patriots fall to 13-5.
It was a defensive battle from the start as both teams struggled to find the back of the net in the first quarter. Cumberlands took advantage of a Madonna penalty as Dalton Smith found Preston Brooks for a man-up goal to give UC a 1-0 lead after the opening period.
Madonna netted back-to-back goals, including a man-down goal, to take a 2-1 lead with 10:23 remaining in the second quarter. The two teams traded goals before Frank Dedvukaj found Chris
Cumberlands cut the lead to 4-3 on an unassisted goal by Henry Quaye with 12:23 remaining in the third quarter. Minutes later, Dedvukaj connected with Harry Dyson for a goal to give the Crusaders a 5-3 advantage with 7:07 left. Madonna added back-to-back goals, within a 26-second span, to take a 7-3 lead into the fourth quarter.
The two teams began the fourth quarter by trading goals twice which gave Madonna a 9-5 edge with 8:36 remaining. Cumberlands recorded three straight goals to make it a one-goal game at 9-8 with 1:43 remaining. The Patriots had a chance to tie the game however Michael Molchan forced a turnover that led to a Crusaders goal in the finals seconds for the 10-8 final.
Ian Rush and Dyson both tallied hat tricks to lead the way for Madonna. Dedvukaj chipped in a goal and three assists, while Zachary Beam went 14-20 on the faceoff with eight ground balls. Connor Wright scooped up eight ground balls as Gary Cutler finished with six saves.
Leading the way for Cumberlands was Whitten McCune and Brooks, who tallied two goals apiece. Quaye chipped in a goal and two assists, while Thomas Fogarty recorded a team-high four caused turnovers. Nick DiFranco added a goal and scooped five ground balls.
The Crusaders will face No. 2 Reinhardt for the championship Saturday, May 12, at 4:30 p.m.