RPI falters in NCAA Tournament to Midd

After a promising season that saw the No. 12 Engineers take defeat to only one other team—No. 13 Middlebury College—RPI could not uphold its perfection, as the Panthers managed to squeak away another game from the homestanding Rensselaer. This time, however, it was on the much larger stage of the NCAA Division-III Lacrosse tournament. Despite a bump to the second round, RPI could not defend its home turf at the East Campus Stadium as the Engineers fell 16-8. Rensselaer finished its season with a 14-3 record, while the Panthers continued on to the third round with a 13-5 mark.

Junior David Hild powered Middlebury with a six-point effort on the afternoon. Hild opened scoring for the game with a quick pair of goals, pulling the Panthers up 3-1. Rensselaer junior Nick Billy responded with a goal to make it a 3-2 game after 15 minutes of play had elapsed, but Middlebury rallied with three-straight goals to start the second quarter.

With nine minutes remaining in the half and Rensselaer down 6-2, sophomore Andrew Liptak cut the deficit down to three, but Middlebury’s Hild and fellow junior Andrew Connor added marks to give the visitors an 8-3 advantage with just under seven minutes remaining in the half.

The Engineers managed to get one more tally on the boards before the end of the half from sophomore Paul DiLandro, but Middlebury sophomore Tim Cahill beat the buzzer with his first of three of the day to close the half, 9-4 Panthers.

Following the brief intermission, the Panthers picked up right where they ended, with another goal from Connor to increase Middlebury’s lead to six. RPI freshman Wes Rudy made his mark to cut the lead down to 10-5, but the Panthers continued rolling with three-straight goals over the next four minutes for the 13-5 advantage. Middlebury would add one last mark to close out the third quarter.

With only 15 minutes remaining to make a stunning comeback, senior Paul Cerone stepped up for the Engineers to close the gap to 14-7 in the opening 38 seconds of the final quarter. However, Cahill responded with back-to-back goals within seconds, deepening the gap. Billy added his second of the game at 4:33, but it wasn’t enough as both teams played solid defense through the final minutes of the game, keeping both squads off the boards.

For the Panthers, Hild led the team with five goals and an assist, while Cahill collected three goals, and Connor notched two goals and two assists. In addition, senior Russell Baker added a pair of goals, while fellow senior Pete Smith had a goal and two assists. In net, junior Ryan Deane made 11 saves for the win, with classmate Charles Ward making one stop in the final 3:34 of play.

Rensselaer’s Billy posted a team-best two goals on the day while collecting an assist. Cerone was the only other multi-point Engineer, tallying a goal and an assist in the loss, while five other RPI players added goals. In net, freshman James Manchester stopped 13 attempts in the loss.

Engineers Tabbed for National Honors

The United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association recently named Rensselaer junior Nick Billy as an All-American Honorable Mention to its 2010 All-America teams. The midfielder led the Engineers with 46 points on 28 goals and 18 assists, while also leading the team in shots with 95, and was second in shots on goal with 53. In addition, Billy led RPI in man-advantage goals with three. A unanimous selection to the All-League First Team, Billy also posted an impressive 30 ground balls and caused turnovers.

Billy also earned numbers within the Liberty League, finishing fourth in the League in points per game (2.71), sixth in both goals (1.65) and shots (5.59) per game, and eighth in assists per contest (1.06).

Billy, along with sophomore Tyler Hutchinson, and freshman netminder James Manchester were named ECAC All-Stars. While Billy and Hutchinson earned All-Second team honors, Manchester was named the Rookie of the Year.

Manchester led the league in several categories, and posted some of the best numbers in the nation. The Niskayuna, N.Y., native finished a 6.09 goals against average—the third best among all Division-III goaltenders—and a .629 save percentage through all 17 games this year. Manchester also led the league in shutouts with one, and held the second-best record for goals against average and save percentage. In addition to his third-place finish in goals against average, Manchester also ranked ninth nationally for save percentage. Throughout the season, Manchester earned three Defensive Performer of the Week awards, and was a six-time selection for Rookie of the Week in the Liberty League.

Defenseman Hutchinson helped to lead the Engineers’ fourth-ranked scoring defense in the nation, and finished second on the team in caused turnovers. Hutchinson collected a goal and two assists as well as 36 ground balls.

USILA finished handing out its awards with the 2010 Scholar Athlete honors, given to RPI seniors Paul Cerone and Bryant Johnson.

Johnson, a midfielder, finished with 30 goals on the season through all 17 games. He also collected five assists, and was third on the club with 35 points. Johnson also led the team in shots (95), shots on goal (66), and game-winning goals (2), while also recording 27 ground balls and three caused turnovers. A mechanical engineering major, Johnson has earned many academic awards, including multiple mentions on the Dean’s List and All-Liberty League Academic team, as well as being a member of Olympia (Rensselaer’s Student-Athlete Honor Society) and Rensselaer President’s Award recipient. Johnson also earned the Rensselaer Leadership Award and was the Vice President of the Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity.

Also a mechanical engineering major and multiple Dean’s List honoree, Cerone finished second in the Liberty League in assists (19) and seventh in points (32). Garnering All-League Second Team, he leads in assists and was second in points and third in shots (59), shots on goal (31), and ground balls (36).