Top 10 of 2014: Men's Lacrosse CCC Three-Peat is No. 1 Story in WNE Athletics

Top 10 of 2014: Men's Lacrosse CCC Three-Peat is No. 1 Story in WNE Athletics
SPRINGFIELD, Mass.--It's here...the top-10 of 2014 in Western New England University Athletics. Since January, we have unveiled the top 10 stories/moments played out by Western New England NCAA teams, coaches and student-athletes for the last calendar year. The countdown concludes at No. 1 with Men's Lacrosse earning a Commonwealth Coast Conference championship three-peat!

On May 3 of last spring, Western New England scored eight unanswered goals and used a suffocating defense in the second half to complete a come-from-behind 13-8 victory over top-seed and nationally No. 11-ranked Endicott College to capture its third consecutive CCC men's lacrosse championship at Endicott Stadium. The win avenged WNE's 20-6 loss at Endicott on April 15 during the regular season.

The Golden Bears' fourth win in a row improved their overall record to 10-7 and they earned the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Men's Lacrosse Championship. It marked their third straight trip and seventh appearance in team history to the Big Dance. WNE is 5-1 lifetime in CCC title games.

Senior Colton Craig scored a game-high-tying five goals, including three in WNE's 7-0 run during a span of 4 minutes and 37 seconds to end the third quarter to erase a 7-5 deficit. Freshman Keegan Dudeck scored with 3:21 to go in the contest to cap the eight-goal run.

For WNE, senior tri-captain Adam Knapton added a hat trick and Dudeck finished with four points on two goals and two assists. Junior Brandon Body made 13 saves in the Golden Bears cage, including six in the final stanza to help keep the Gulls at bay.

Junior Harrison Cotter led Endicott with five goals, followed by Colin Bannon with two goals and an assist and Nick Pinciaro who had a goal and two helpers.

After a first-half effort saw Endicott take a 6-4 lead due in large part to four goals by Cotter, the CCC Player of the Year, both teams came out of the locker room in the third quarter and battled through a 6:25 stalemate with Endicott maintaining their two-goal advantage.

At 8:35 on the clock in the third quarter, however, the Golden Bears started a miraculous stretch that saw them score eight goals over the course of the next 4:59 to take command of the game at 12-7 after 45 minutes of play. Of the eight goals, three goals apiece were scored by Knapton and Craig. Senior Justin McKinney and sophomore Stephen Gair both scored unassisted tallies in the high-paced third.

Consistent defensive presence by WNE defenders Jack Liacos, a senior who had four ground balls, and sophomore midfielder Patrick Dillon, who combined for six of their team's 10 caused turnovers, and strong face-off play by senior midfielder Jesse DeLucca's 12-of-18 on the draw, also contributed toward the win.

Western New England also held a strong battle for ground balls of 41 to 26 over Endicott. Gair and DeLucca led the Golden Bears with five apiece, and Tommy Hughes and Cameron Bell also had five each for the Gulls. Western New England out-scooped EC by a 25-10 margin during the second and third quarters when the visitors made their move.

Endicott held a 4-1 lead in the first quarter.

Game Notes: Endicott and Western New England have met in the CCC Championship five times since the 2008 season, which was the former's first season in the league...the Golden Bears own a 4-1 record in those CCC championship match-ups, including a 3-0 mark at Endicott last year's CCC Championship, Western New England upset the top-seeded Gulls 9-5 in Beverly behind a pair of three-point efforts from Adam Knapton (two goals, assist) and Owen Caruso (goal, two assist) and 14 saves from Brandon Body...Western New England also won CCC crowns in 2008-09 and 2012-13 for five in school history...WNE went to the Elite Eight in the NCAAs in 2013.

Top 10 Western New England Athletics Stories/Moments for 2014
#10: Football Wins Inaugural Pynchon SAW Game in Big Comeback at Springfield College
#9: Men's Golf Dominates All-Commonwealth Coast Conference Awards
#8: School-Record 131 Academic All-Conference Selections
#7: Kevin Cook Rushes Way into Football Program's Record Book
#6: Grace Kucharski is the First WNE Women's Volleyball Player Named both All-American and CoSIDA Academic All-American®
#5: Women's Lacrosse has a Historic Season
#4: Dennis Rinaldi Makes History with All-Commonwealth Coast First Team Selection
#3: Isaiah Berrios Chosen for the International Federation of American Football (IFAF) Under-19 World Championship as a Member of Team USA
#2: Slew of Major Honorees Spanning National to Conference Levels
#1: Commonwealth Coast Conference Championship Three-Peat for Men's Lacrosse