The Centre men's lacrosse team claimed its first Southern Athletic Association Tournament championship in dramatic fashion, defeating Sewanee 11-10 on a shorthanded goal by Mitchell Kraus in the closing seconds.
The game was close throughout, with seven ties and four lead changes. Neither team led by more than one goal at any point in the second half. The situation looked bleak for the Colonels when they took a penalty in the closing minutes, but Kraus, a freshman attacker from Louisville, was able to score the game-winner with just three seconds left on the clock.
Connor Stubbs (Decatur, Ga.) led all players with four goals while Kraus and Sumner Franklin (Louisville, Ky.) each scored three times. Matt Hughes (Vero Beach, Fla.) scored the other goal for Centre while Wesley Hardman (Narragansett, R.I.), Corey Krill (Louisville, Ky.) and Peter Murphy (Louisville, Ky.) all had assists in the game. Hayden Byrd and Matthew Steifel led Sewanee with three goals each.
Kraus and Franklin also received All-SAA Tournament Team honors while senior goalie Clayton Brown (Louisville, Ky.) was selected as the tournament's MVP. Brown came on with Centre facing an early deficit in its semifinal game with Berry and held the Vikings to just three goals over the rest of the game, then followed that performance by going the distance on Sunday and making 12 saves.
The Colonels got out to an early lead in the game, answering Sewanee's first goal by scoring five of the next six to go up 5-2. That margin tied the largest lead either team would have in the game, but Sewanee would come back, cutting the score to 5-3 by the end of the first quarter and 6-5 at halftime.
The Tigers scored the first two goals of the second half to take their only lead of the game at 7-6, but Centre answered with two straight and never trailed after that point. The teams traded goals throughout the fourth quarter before Kraus contributed the game-winner in the final seconds.
Sewanee took 43 shots to the Colonels' 38 while also holding a 14-9 advantage in face offs and a 37-30 edge in ground balls. Centre turned the ball over 16 times while forcing the Tigers into 21 turnovers.
With the victory, Centre avenges an 18-7 loss to Sewanee in the regular season and claims its first conference tournament championship in just its fourth season as a varsity program. The Colonels also tied for a regular season SAA championship and reached the NCAA Tournament in 2013.
Centre improves its record to 13-3 while Sewanee falls to 12-4. Both teams will wait to see if they receive NCAA Tournament bids when the NCAA holds its Division III lacrosse selection show next Sunday at 10 p.m.