ALBION, Mich. – First-year attack man Alec Palmer matched his career high with four goals and junior midfielder Brandon Lebioda added two as Albion College outlasted Alma College, 11-8, in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association Men's Lacrosse Tournament championship game Saturday night.
With the victory, Albion improved to 15-3 and earned the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Championship for the third consecutive year. Albion will receive its assignment for the tournament Sunday night at 9 o'clock on a webcast available on ncaa.com.
"We think we could go anywhere in the country right now and we're really excited to play that game," Head Coach Jake DeCola said.
The teams traded goals for the bulk of the first half, but Albion pulled away as Zach Hubbell and Palmer scored goals in the final three minutes of the second quarter and Kyle DeCamp won the face-off at the start of the third quarter and took it in for the score.
Jared Nycz scored a goal and dished out an assist and Daniel Buchy and Jake Ellens scored in the final four minutes, but the Scots ran out of time. Ellens finished with three goals, while Nycz and Austin Irrer both had two goals and an assist.
While the Britons received significant contributions from underclassmen, including first-year goalkeeper Trevor McManus who collected eight saves, DeCola said the leadership from seniors Dominic Hamper, Zach Hubbell and Paul Johnson was essential, describing the trio as "unreal". While Hamper is out with a broken arm, he provided encouragement from the sideline. Johnson stuffed the box score by causing two turnovers and scooping two ground balls.
Albion finished with a 31-23 advantage in ground balls – one of the statistics the Britons have made a point of emphasis.
"We love playing hard," DeCola said. "We talked a lot about winning the field ground balls. Kyle DeCamp does a great job taking the face-off for us, but we wanted to judge our performance on the rest of those ground balls outside of the face-off. We feel like we did a great job tonight."
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