Farmville, Va. – The Transylvania men's lacrosse team opens up a new chapter in their program's evolution on Wednesday, May 10 at 3:00 p.m. when it makes its NCAA Tournament debut against the Hampden-Sydney College Tigers at Fulton Field.
After capturing their third consecutive Ohio River Men's Lacrosse Conference Tournament Championship last Saturday, the Pioneers acquired the league's first-ever automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Transylvania opens up its initial foray into NCAA Tournament competition by taking on the host team, Hampden-Sydney, the conference tournament champions of the Old Dominion Athletic Conference. The Tigers completed an inspiring run through the tournament as the No. 4 seed, winning 19-10 at No. 1 seed Washington and Lee in the semifinals, and 14-9 over No. 3 seed Lynchburg in the championship game, held in Lexington, Virginia.
The Tigers now face a team who hails from a more western locale also called Lexington, in the Transylvania Pioneers, who enter their first NCAA Tournament with a record of 13-3, and an undefeated 7-0 run through ORLC regular-season play. The Tigers march into the tournament with an overall record of 15-5, and 6-3 in ODAC play.
Wednesday's matchup displays a juxtaposition between a storied lacrosse program seeking a return to a tradition of excellence, and another program which is looking to make its first indentation of tournament history for itself.
Hampden-Sydney is back in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2003, when the Tigers advanced to the second round before bowing out against Whittier. The Tigers are in the tournament for the ninth time. The Tigers captured the ODAC Championship for the first time since 2001 and the fifth time in school history.
The Tigers led the ODAC in goals with 272 in 20 games, and excelled in the face-off department, winning 322 face-offs, the most of the 10 teams in the ODAC.
Hampden-Sydney is led by junior attacker Ian Levin, and junior midfielder Hunter Brown, who ranked second and third respectively in conference in points, with 80 and 78. Levin was fourth in the ODAC in goals, with 51 on the season. The Tigers boast senior midfielder Jared Arntzen, who led the ODAC in ground balls with 133 pick ups. Junior defender Jay Moss keys a defensive attack, with a team-high 20 caused turnovers on the year.
The Pioneers are led into their first NCAA Tournament battle by a group of seasoned veterans, including seniors Clark Watts and Cooper Fogle. Watts, an attacker, was named the Ohio River Men's Lacrosse Conference Co-Offensive Player of the year on Tuesday, while Fogle was selected for the second straight season as the conference's Defensive Player of the Year. Watts leads the team in goals with 29 on the year, while Fogle ranks first nationwide in goals-allowed per game, yielding fewer than five per contest.
The Pioneers make a living by clearing the ball proficiently, and lead the NCAA in clearing percentage at better than 92 percent.
Transylvania is coming off of arguably its best defensive showing of the year in the ORLC Tournament Championship game against Saint Vincent. In a 12-1 championship win, the Pioneers held the Bearcats scoreless over the final 47-plus minutes of the game while scoring the last 12 unanswered goals. Fogle produced 10 saves in that contest in picking up his 13th win of the season.
Senior midfielder Zack Riggs came up with a hat-trick in the championship game and four points total. The veteran is anonther key piece of the Pioneers' offense, posting 11 goals on the year and won 30 face-offs in 2017.
The Pioneers are led by fifth-year head coach Terry Justice, who claimed his 50th career win on Saturday in the championship game. Justice is responsible for building the Pioneers men's lacrosse program, and leads them into Wednesday's first NCAA Tournament game.
Hampden-Sydney's first-year head coach is Jason Rostan, a 2003 alum of the program. Rostan has been part of the Tiger staff for the last 15 years.
Wednesday's game will be played at Hampden-Sydney College's Fulton Field in Farmville, Virginia; tickets for Wednesday's tournament game are $3 for adults, and $2 for children.
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