#5 Cortland Tops #10 Wesleyan 7-6 in OT to Advance

CORTLAND, N.Y. Junior Ryan Simensky (Locust Valley) scored the game- winning goal 42 seconds into overtime to lead the nationally fifth- ranked Cortland men's lacrosse team to a 7-6 victory over 10th-ranked Wesleyan Sunday afternoon in the NCAA Division III national semifinals at the SUNY Cortland Stadium Complex.

With the win, the Red Dragons advance to the Division III championship game for the first time since 1981 and will face three-time defending champion, Salisbury, a 13-12 winner in overtime versus Roanoke College in the second semifinal matchup. The Cardinals had their season end at 16-4 after two road wins in the NCAA playoffs.

Simensky finished the game with two goals and an assist for the Red Dragons, who played without senior SUNYAC Player of the Year Matt O'Connell (Camillus/West Genesee). Senior Mike Abbott (Syracuse/ Nottingham) led Cortland with three goals, senior Kyle Lambert (Brentwood) contributed one goal and one assist, senior Brian Atkins (Adams/South Jefferson) added a goal and junior Mike Felice (Baldwinsville/C.W. Baker) recorded two assists. Senior Ben Gaebel (Deferiet/Carthage) registered 10 saves in goal.

For Wesleyan, sophomore Chris Jasinski (Wilton, CT) led the offense with one goal and two assists. Five other players seniors Jordan Funt (Setauket/Ward Melville), Mike Vitulano (Fairfield, CT/Fairfield Prep) and Mike Walsh (Cape Elizabeth, ME) and sophomores Grayson Connors (Princeton Junction, NJ/Peddie School) and Alex Kaufman (Lake Oswego, OR/Oregon Episcopal School) each netted one goal. Junior goalie Charlie Congleton (Groton, MA/Groton School) stopped 13 shots, including eight in the opening half.

Neither team could manage more than a two-goal lead in a game that was played at a deliberate pace for most of the afternoon. The Red Dragons jumped out to a 2-0 lead as Abbott connected with an unassisted score at 12:12 of the opening quarter and Simensky netted his first at 7:57.

The Cardinals fought back with a three-goal outburst in a span of 1:37 late in thee first quarter to take a 3-2 lead. Connors scored his team-high 42nd of the season at 4:50, followed by Kaufman's unassisted tally at 3:50. Thirty-seven second later, freshman Russell Follansbee (Deerfield, MA/Deerfield Academy) set up Funt's goal.

The teams traded goals in the second quarter as the two goalies each turned aside four shots. Abbott tied the game at 3-3 with a bounce shot off Simenksy's assist at 10:01. The Cardinals took the lead into the half when freshman Jason Ben-Eliyahu (East Setauket/Ward Melville) assisted Jasinski's goal 1:45 before intermission.

Wesleyan earned its largest lead of the game when Jasinski assisted Vitulano's goal at 8:13 of the third quarter for a 5-3 advantage. Cortland responded with a pair of scores to make it a 5-5 game heading into the fourth quarter. Abbott netted his third of the game and 39th of the season at 6:51 to make it a 5-4 game.

The momentum of the game then took a turn with 2:29 remaining in the quarter. Two Cortland players were whistled for 30-second pushing penalties, which put the Red Dragons two men down. Before play resumed, a Wesleyan player received a three-minute non-releasable illegal stick penalty.

Cortland killed off the 30-second man-down situation and had two and a half minutes of man-advantage time. The Red Dragons capitalized at 1:28 of the third when Atkins scored into an open net off a feed from Lambert to tie the game.

After holding off Cortland for the remainder of the man-up situation, which stretched into the fourth quarter, Walsh gave the Cardinals their last lead of the game at 12:26 when he finished off a pass from Jasinski for a man-up goal.

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