HOLLAND, Mich. – The Albion College men's lacrosse senior class completed its four year mission after all.
Albion rallied from a 5-1 deficit three minutes into the second quarter to earn an 11-8 victory over Hope College in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association Men's Lacrosse Tournament championship game.
Albion, winners of four consecutive MIAA Tournament championships, won the final on the road for the first time. The Britons won the 2015, 2016, 2017 championships at home as the No. 1 seed. Albion entered the 2018 tournament as the No. 2 seed after falling to Hope, 14-10, during the final week of the regular season.
Hope failed to score on its first two possessions, but it came alive with four goals in the final eight minutes of the first quarter. Hope faced little resistance in the midfield and it quickly transitioned the ball into the offensive zone to create shots from close range.
Max Kuiper scored twice in a 2 ½ minute span as the Flying Dutchmen seized a 4-1 lead.
The Flying Dutchmen extended the lead to 5-1 on Nathaniel Hentschel's goal with 12:01 left in the second.
"The problem was we were almost too excited," Albion Head Coach Jake DeCola said. "The energy was going to the wrong place. We told them to control their emotions and play the game we are capable of playing. The kids really performed and played their tails off."
The teams traded goals at the start of the third quarter – Liam Turley and Hentschel scored for Hope and Lawrence scored for Albion – as Hope maintained a two-goal lead with 7:18 left.
The Albion defense, however, never let Hope deliver the knockout punch. Goalkeeper Trevor McManus scooped groundballs as Hope turned it over twice in the offensive zone and it failed to clear the ball on the third possession.
The Britons finally took advantage, getting a goal from Lebioda to trail, 8-7, with four minutes left in the third quarter.
Lawrence's third goal of the night pushed Albion to an 8-7 lead with 1:19 left in the quarter.
Despite Kuiper's third goal of the night with 12:35 left in regulation that tied the score at 8-8, Albion controlled the fourth quarter. Quinn Dobrzeleski won 4 of 5 faceoffs leading to Lebioda scoring his third goal of the night for the Britons and Collin Bowers assisting on goals by Anthony Zugaro and Paul Lewis.
Albion's ride also forced Hope into a couple of turnovers late.
Albion received the automatic qualifier from the MIAA to the NCAA Division III Championship. The Britons will learn their tournament assignment Sunday night at 9 on a webcast available at ncaa.com.
Follow the Britons on Twitter: @Albion_MLax