NYIT men's lacrosse set to begin bid for fifth national title

NYIT men's lacrosse works out at Merrimack College on Friday afternoon.
NYIT men's lacrosse works out at Merrimack College on Friday afternoon.

NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. — The NYIT men's lacrosse team's NCAA Tournament opener is rapidly approaching.

The fourth-seeded Bears traveled to Massachusetts on Thursday evening and went through an hour-long workout at Merrimack College on Friday afternoon.

The Bears and the top-seeded Warriors face off on Saturday at 1 p.m. in a quarterfinal matchup.

This marks the third trip to the NCAA Tournament under ninth-year head coach Bill Dunn. The Bears also participated in 2013 and 2016.

NYIT men's lacrosse has won four national championships in program history. Earlier this season, the program brought back members of the final of those title teams for a halftime ceremony celebrating the 10th anniversary of the 2008 championship. 

Merrimack edged NYIT, 16-14, in an early regular-season meeting back on Feb. 18 at frigid President's Stadium. The Warriors were ranked first in the nation at the time and went on to win the Northeast-10 Conference postseason crown.

The Bears (13-4) enter the rematch on an 11-game winning streak and flying high. The surge was punctuated by capturing a second straight East Coast Conference postseason title last Saturday at President's Stadium on Andrew Zito's sudden-death overtime winner against LIU Post.

It marked the second straight year NYIT won the ECC title in overtime. Tom Hughes did the honors against Mercy in the 2017 championship game, although the Bears were left out of the NCAA Tournament by the selection committee a day later.

"As with every year, our goal as a team is to win the conference title, which usually propels you to an NCAA bid," Dunn said. "Unfortunately, last year we did win the ECC and were left out of the tournament.

"To say we are satisfied would be an understatement. We are thrilled to be able to compete for NYIT's fifth national championship."