Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 5/28/16
By Russ Atkinson and From Press Release
North Carolina junior All-America defenseman Austin Pifani (Abington, Duke’s L.C.) had no trouble showing his love of Philly after his Tar Heels defeated Loyola, 18-13, today in the NCAA men’s semifinals at Lincoln Financial Field.
“It means the world to me being back in Philadelphia playing for the national championship,” said Pifani, an All-ACC pick and Third-team All-American who had three groundballs and two caused turnovers in the game. “I just want to thank my family and friends and alumni for all they did to support us.
“Not many people believed in us, but they certainly did. I am thankful for growing up in Philadelphia; it’s such a special place for lacrosse. It was great growing up in Abington – it has a has a close place in my heart, and I have that for all the teams I played for; Abington High, the Dukes and the Wet Bandits. I can’t say enough about my family and all the support they have given me.”
Chris Cloutier scored an NCAA championship weekend record nine goals and led North Carolina’s unseeded Cinderella squad to the win over seventh-seeded Loyola. UNC will face Maryland – a 15-14 overtime winner over brown – in the championship game on Monday afternoon at 1 p.m.
Cloutier’s nine goals set a career high and a school record, are the most in any NCAA championship weekend game in history and tied the overall NCAA Tournament record. UNC is the first unseeded team to make the national final since 2012.
Making its first appearance in the semifinals since 1993, Carolina led, 14-5, at halftime and survived a second-half Greyhound rally to advance to the NCAA title game for the first time since ’93.
In addition to Cloutier’s output, Steve Pontrello (St. Augustine Prep) had two goals and three assists, Timmy Kelly had two goals, Stephen Kelly had two assists and won 19 faceoffs and Luke Goldstock had two goals and one assist. Patrick Kelly had a goal and an assist, Brian Cannon and William McBride scored single goals and Shane Simpson and Michael Tagliaferri had assists.
“It was a tremendous game by everyone – especially Chris Cloutier – and I’m so proud of our players and coaches that we get to play in the national championship,” said Pontrello. “Obviously, it’s in Philadelphia and I am a huge Eagles fan. It’s close to my house and I am so excited to play for a national championship. I couldn’t ask for anything more.”
Tyler Albrecht led Loyola with three goals and an assist and Zach Herreweyers scored three goals.
The Tar Heels dominated the first half, jumping out to a 3-0 lead in the opening five minutes on goals by three different players. Loyola responded with a goal, only to see UNC tally nine of the next 10 scores (including three in a span of 15 seconds) to take a commanding, 12-2 lead early in the second quarter.
The Greyhounds scored three of the last four goals of the half, but the nine-goal lead at the break was Carolina’s second-largest halftime advantage of the season (it led Manhattan, 14-1, at the half on March 14).
Loyola rallied early in the second half, going on a 3-0 run to cut the lead to 14-8. Cloutier responded with back-to-back goals that made it 16-8 at the end of the third period. The Greyhounds started the fourth quarter with a 4-0 run to make it 16-12 with 6:25 to play, but Cloutier’s ninth goal with 5:32 left broke the momentum. Each team scored a goal in the closing minutes.