Dominican Defeats Notre Dame de Namur

SAN FRANCISCO - It was a historic night for the Dominican University of California lacrosse team. With freshman Jake Fritz netting seven goals with two assists to win the league points scoring title, the Penguins built a 14-2 lead en route to a 15-8 triumph over rival Notre Dame de Namur in the annual "Battle For The Bay" game on Bob St. Clair Field at 87-year-old Kezar Stadium on Saturday night. The victory secured Dominican's first winning season (7-6) in the eight-year existence of its lacrosse program.

"That was a heck of a way to end a great season," said Head Coach Ned Webster.

Against Notre Dame de Namur (1-12/1-7) on Saturday, eight different Penguins scored despite having their and the league's leading scorer coming into the game, freshman Kevin Powers, sidelined with an injury.

Offensively, the Penguins started strong, delighting a pro-Dominican crowd of about 400, which included about 50 Dominican students who rode a bus dubbed The Ice Box Express to the game from the San Rafael campus. The Penguins scored three goals in a 3:16 span in the first period, two by Fritz off feeds from classmate Jake Bernstein.

Blake Crossman, with an assist by Reed Upson, tallied in between those goals then Fritz got his hat trick with 36 seconds to go in the opening period. Fritz also had two assists in the first half. Upson contributed two first-half assists, the last leading to a goal by Bernstein with four seconds left before intermission to push the Penguins in front 8-1.

It was the final game for Upson, co-captain Emmett Faricy, Geraldo Gonzalez, Matt Polizzi, Ben Wang, and Corey Whelan in their Dominican lacrosse career. They were recognized on the field prior to the game."

It's bittersweet," Webster said. "We wouldn't be here now if these guys didn't suck it up. They went through some tough times."

Defensively, a hit by Polizzi on NDNU's Kevin Nguyen in the opening minutes of the game set the tone. Tai Sing Hee and Whelan caused early turnovers and Whelan did a masterful job in helping to contain Argonauts' star Nate Jackson, the league leader in goals and shots on goals. Jackson didn't score a goal until 12:01 remaining in the game when Webster started playing his reserves. Jackson scored two more goals to pass Fritz for the goal scoring title. Fritz had overtaken Jackson by scoring his 30th goal of the season with 13:40 left in the game then Polizzi tallied 30 seconds to extend Dominican's lead to 14-2.

"I wouldn't have been able to do it with my teammates," Fritz said, "I was just kind of in the right spot at the right time. They made it happen. I just put the ball in the back of the net."

So good was Dominican's defense that a long-stick defender, Austin Franks, also tallied for Dominican, one of six Penguins players to score in the first half.

Dominican and Colorado Mesa, which defeated Adams State 8-6 on Saturday afternoon, finished in a tie for first place with 6-2 records in the Western Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association. They split their head-to-head meetings during the season but, although the Penguins outscored the Mavericks 17-14 in those two games, the second tiebreaker for conference ties is lowest goals against average in league games.

Colorado Mesa, with a more deliberate style of play, allowed 43 goals in eight WILA contests, an average of 5.38 per game. Dominican allowed 18 more goals (for 61) in its eight league contests, an average of 7.63.

Thus, the Penguins, the most prolific scoring team in the WILA, scored 105 goals this season, 43 more than Colorado Mesa's 62, yet were edged by a tiebreaker that rewards defense.

Dominican technically didn't win the WILA championship, yet they sure felt like champions.

"Hats off to Colorado Mesa. They had a great season," Webster said. "There's that old expression that defenses win championships, but I'd like to think of us as co-champions. We're proud of our effort. I'm really happy with our team and how they finished up the year."


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