Rankel Leads RMU to Thrilling Win over Quinnipiac in NEC Semis

Smithfield, R.I. May 2, 2013 True freshman midfielder Eric Rankel (Philadelphia, Pa./Downingtown West) broke a variety of records with his six-goal performance as he led Robert Morris to a thrilling 15-14 victory over Quinnipiac in the NEC semifinals Thursday afternoon at a sunny Bulldog Stadium.

The win was the first-ever postseason victory in the young history of the RMU men's lacrosse program and advances the Colonials into the NEC Championship Saturday, where they will face top seed Bryant with a berth in the NCAA Tournament on the line.

The game came down to literally the final seconds as redshirt senior Charles Ruppert (Long Island, N.Y./Massapequa) stopped multiple shots within the final five seconds to prevent overtime and seal the win for the Colonials. The score was tied, 14-14, heading into the final minute, but redshirt senior attackman Dave Morton (Orangeville, Ontario/Hill School) corralled a rebound directly out of the air and then fired the ball into the net from the doorstep to score what proved to be the winning tally.

That ending would not have been possible without another stunning Colonial comeback as Robert Morris trailed by six goals at one point. Thursday's contest marked the third straight game in which RMU trailed by at least five goals and rallied to take the lead.

Rankel's six goals represented a NEC Tournament record, a RMU freshmen record and a RMU postseason record for a single game. His half dozen scores are a team season high as he becomes just the seventh distinct Colonial to score at least six times in one game. The performance marked his 11th multi-point game, sixth multi-goal game and fourth hat trick of his rookie season. His six goals, which came on just eight shots, allowed him to extend his RMU freshmen records for goals and points in a season to 27 and 39, respectively.

Robert Morris had statistical advantages in shots, shots on goal, man-up percentage, caused turnovers and also committed fewer turnovers than the Bobcats. RMU has now outshot its opponents in its last nine games overall and each of its past 12 games against NEC foes. The Colonials have also now made more turnovers than their opponent just once in their past 21 contests.

RMU's 15 caused turnovers Thursday marked one of the top 10 single-game efforts in Colonial history, as well as the fourth time this season it has hit that figure in a game, and also helped the 2013 squad break the team school record for caused turnovers (154) in a season. Robert Morris' five man-up goals were one away from tying the single-game school record in that category and also allowed the Colonials to tie the single-season program record for man-up goals (24).

While Morton had the final strike of the day, it was far from his only mark on the scoresheet as he tallied a hat trick and a trio of assists to notch six points, tying the team season high. With that outing, he became the eighth Colonial in program history to surpass 100 points in a career and also moved into a tie for sixth in career assists. Morton posted his 23rd multi-point game, his 18th multi-goal game, including his eighth this season, and his 11th career hat trick on the day. His point total Thursday marked the fifth time in his career in which he contributed at least six points in a game.

In a start that was eerily similar to the first meeting between the Colonials and Bobcats this season, Quinnipiac jumped ahead early, scoring the game's first four goals, and led 4-1 after the first quarter--the same score after the opening period as in the teams' first match-up.

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