Nazareth vs. Rit
April 20, 2002
The Game Story:
ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- Chris Vallone (Corning, N.Y.) scored four goals including the game-winning goal with 17 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter to cap off the Rochester Institute of Technology men's lacrosse teams' 14-13 comeback victory at Nazareth Saturday afternoon.

This rivalry and series is always tightly-contested and emotionally=driven despite the teams' records and today was no different. With the comeback and the game going down to the wire, this game will definitely go into the books as one of the greatest games in series history.

The game was scoreless until 6:44 into the game when Josh Lewis found the goal on a feed from Chad Kuczek (Auburn, N.Y.). However, RIT responded quickly with a goal by Dave Griffin (Camillus, N.Y.) just off the right crease on feed by Josh Molinari (Oswego, N.Y.) from behind the goal with 6:08 remaining in the first quarter.

Naz responded with two quick goals by Kuczek and Brian Roden (Bethpage, N.Y.) 27 seconds apart at 4:31 and 4:04 of the quarter, respectively, to build a 3-1 advantage. Ryan Neward (Williamsville, N.Y.) cut into the lead with the first of two goals on the afternoon at 3:01 from Molinari on a quick turn shot. However, Naz held a 4-2 lead after one when Kuczek scored his second of three goals in the game with 1:15 left in the quarter from Jarod Koopman (Waterloo, N.Y.).

The second quarter was all Nazareth showing off their offensive prowess with eight goals to build a comfortable 12-4 lead at the half. P.J. Rosecrans (Schenectady, N.Y.) scored all four of his goals in the second, while Roden, Jeff Monroe (Horseheads, N.Y.), Kuczek and Avery Burke (East Setauket, N.Y.) each added markers in the second quarter offensive explosion for the Golden Flyers.

While the first half looked like a rout for Nazareth, the second half was the exact opposite in favor of the Tigers. Despite losing preseason honorable mention All-American defenseman Chris Farrugia in the second quarter after a ball struck his neck, the RIT defense didn't buckle and shutout the Golden Flyers potent offense for the entire third quarter and a 24-minute span. RIT also thwarted all five Naz man-up chances in the second half.

While the defense was shutting down Naz, the Tigers' offense was closing the gap with four goals in the third to cut the lead to 12-8 keyed by Chris Copeland's (Webster, N.Y.) two markers and one apiece from Dan Tuschong (Irondequoit, N.Y.) and Molinari.

RIT scored three in the first 5:32 of the fourth to make it a one-goal game at 12-11. However, Nazareth finally snapped their scoring drought when Burke recorded his second of the game to take a 13-11 lead with 6:07 remaining. However, RIT wasn't through with their comeback as Vallone carried the ball, drew the Naz defense to him and found Dan Tuschong to his left wide-open for the first of three goals in the final 2:51.

Neward scored his second of the game with 52 seconds left to tie it at 13-13, curling around the Naz "D" from right to left. Then the game-winning goal came after receiving a pass from Molinari, Vallone beat the defenseman and deposited the ball into the left side of the net with 17 seconds to go.

Naz won the final face-off but not after valuable time had ticked off the clock in a scrum for the ball leaving only seven seconds on the clock. Rosecrans' carried the ball toward the goal, but his final shot was saved by Chris James (Penfield, N.Y.) who finished with 21 saves on the afternoon, including 11 big saves in the fourth quarter and 16 in the second half.

The victory makes the race for the Empire 8 regular-season crown wide-open with Ithaca (lost to Hartwick 12-10), Hartwick (lost to Nazareth 21-12) and Nazareth (lost to RIT 14-13) at 3-1, while RIT is 2-1 (lost to Alfred 11-10). The Tigers will look to build on this big victory when they host Utica on Tuesday at 4 p.m. and Hartwick on Saturday at 1 p.m.