Athletics

Jeffs Heading to RIT for National Quarterfinals

Contact: Ben Badua

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AMHERST, MA – With a 12-9 win over NESCAC rival Middlebury College on Saturday afternoon, the tenth-ranked Amherst men’s lacrosse team will march on to the quarterfinal round of NCAA Tournament, advancing to face second-ranked Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, NY on Wednesday, May 18.

Face-off for Wednesday’s quarterfinal matchup is set for 4 p.m. Tickets will be $5 for adults, $3 for students and senior citizens and $1 for children 12 and under. Kids two and under will be admitted free of charge. For those unable to attend, be sure to follow all of the action via live stats courtesy of RIT Sports Information or the Amherst Athletics Twitter page.

With a program record 15 wins to their credit, the Lord Jeffs have made the most of their inaugural trip to the NCAA DIII Men’s Lacrosse championship, securing a 12-8 win over Keene State College in its opener before scoring the second round triumph over the Panthers.

Juniors Cole Cherney (Chappaqua, NY) and Evan Redwood (Lutherville, MD) have spearheaded Amherst’s tournament run, netting six goals apiece. Redwood, who has registered a .545 shot percentage in a pair of NCAA contests, led the Jeffs with four goals in the opener against the Owls, while Cherney, along with first-year Devin Acton (Sudbury, MA), tallied hat-tricks in the victory over Middlebury. Junior midfielder Alex Fox (Garden City, NY) has also impressed this postseason, recording three goals and two assists, including a two-score effort against the rival Panthers.

Acton, Cherney, Fox and Redwood have all helped shoulder Amherst’s offensive load this season, carrying an attack that has produced 179 goals, while ranking third in the NESCAC in shot percentage (.298). Acton, the NEILA and NESCAC Rookie of the Year, currently sits fourth in the league in points per game (3.24), while leading the squad with 55 points on a team-best 38 goals and 17 assists. A second-team ALL-NEILA selection, Fox has compiled 44 points on the season (19-25-44), while ranking third in the conference in helpers.

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Cole Cherney '12 has six goals and two assists to lead the Amherst offense in the NCAA Tournament

Redwood garnered second-team All-NESCAC recognition after another stellar year in Purple and White, sitting sixth in the league in assists (23) and tied for 10th in points, while Cherney has quietly put together a productive season offensively, tying for third on the conference charts in goals (43) and ranking eighth in points per game (2.88).

Headlining Amherst’s defensive efforts is standout junior goalkeeper Sam Jakimo (Woodbury, NY), who has played an integral role in the Lord Jeffs success this season. After a season-opening loss to defending national champion Tufts University –which he did not start – Jakimo quickly asserted himself as the squad’s top net-minder, helping Amherst reel off 13-consecutive victories before finally dropping his first game of the season against Bowdoin in the NESCAC quarterfinals.

Now 15-1 overall on the year, Jakimo currently ranks seventh nationally in save percentage (0.645) and second in the conference in goals-against average (7.45). Leading the NESCAC in saves, the Woodbury, NY native made a career-best 25 stops in the Jeffs’ NCAA win over Middlebury. Rising to the challenge, Jakimo has been every bit as good – if not better – thus far this postseason, registering a 7.06 goals-against average and .702 save percentage in a pair of tournament games, while surrendering just 14 goals on 80 shots faced.

Hoping to help keep things clear in front of Jakimo are second-team All-NEILA honoree Arne Andersen (Phoenixville, PA), sophomore Danny Gold (Medfield, MA) and first-year Duncan Morrissey (Ridgefield, CT). Morrissey and Gold currently rank eighth (65) and ninth (60), respectively in the NESCAC in ground balls, while Andersen has started 15 of the Lord Jeffs’ games in 2011, scooping up 30 ground balls.

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Sam Jakimo '12 will look to slow the RIT attack after making 25 saves in the Jeffs' win over Middlebury

RIT carries a high-powered and often explosive offense into Wednesday’s quarterfinal, having set the single-season program goals mark with 281 on the year. The Tigers, who have scored at least 10 goals in every game this season, while cracking the 20-goal plateau on three occasions, boast the nation’s fifth-ranked scoring offense (15.76), with a plus-8.12 scoring margin – good for sixth amongst Division III institutions.

Recording a program-record 18 wins, RIT captured its second consecutive Empire 8 title en route to its 13th NCAA Tournament appearance. The Tigers, who have advanced to the national semifinals five times in their history – the last being in 1999 – are 1-2 in their last three quarterfinal contests, which includes a 15-7 loss to SUNY Cortland in 2010. Coming off a thrilling 13-12 overtime win over Denison in the second round of this year’s tournament, RIT is 7-12 all-time in championship play.

Serving as the catalysts of the RIT attack for much of this season have been senior Kelso Davis and junior Tyler Russell. Davis, a first-team All-Empire 8 honoree, netted six goals in the win over Denison, including the game-winner with 1:41 left in the extra session, giving the Tigers their third overtime win of the season. With 40 scores on the year, Davis became just the 13th player in program history to surpass the 100-goal plateau.

Russell, a second-team all-conference pick, currently ranks sixth in the country in goals-per game (3.47). His team-high 63 goals on the year sit third all-time on the Tigers’ single-season charts, just two shy of matching the school record. Supplementing a balanced RIT offense that features eight players with at least 10 goals are Empire 8 Player of the Year MJ Kiekebelt, first-teamer Jordan MacIntosh, honorable mention selection Jordan Collins-Hartwig and senior Iric Bressler.

Kiekebelt started all 18 games for the undefeated Tigers, leading the team in ground balls (118) and caused turnovers (50), while registering seven goals and 11 assists on the offensive end. MacIntosh, who tallied 64 points on 37 goals and 27 assists, finished the season tied for sixth in the conference in points for game. Bressler led the league in helpers this season, dishing out 35 assists, while Collins-Hartwick tallied 39 points on 30 goals and nine assists.

Anchoring the Tigers’ defense are second-teamers Eric Horeth and Bob Tonnessen. A junior defenseman, Horeth helped keep opposing offenses at bay, ranking second on the team in caused turnovers (22), while picking up 30 ground balls. Tonnessen enjoyed a breakout season between the pipes, posting an unblemished 18-0 record, while ranking second in the Empire 8 in save percentage (.581) and third in goals-against average (7.79).

Watch the highlights from Amherst's NCAA Tournament second round win over Middlebury.