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Toron Eccleston
Toron Eccleston's 57 goals this season are the second-most in a single season in program history and his 84 points rank third.
photo courtesy of Lenoir-Rhyne Athletics

Lenoir-Rhyne Men’s Lacrosse Advances With Win Over Defending Champs

Lenoir-Rhyne men’s lacrosse took out defending National Champion Tampa in the First Round of the 2023 NCAA Men’s Lacrosse Tournament on Wednesday afternoon on the road, 10-9. The two teams have met in the NCAA Tournament in each of the past three years with LR advancing past the Spartans twice in that span. This is the fifth NCAA Tournament win in program history for LR who earned their first-ever win at Tampa today and outscored Tampa 6-2 in the second half.

Toron Eccleston struck first for LR with the first of his three tallies on the day to put the Bears up at the 12:36 mark of the first quarter. After Tampa answered, the Bears rattled off three straight with strikes from Eccleston, Riley Seay and Jarrett Huff.

The first quarter would end with LR up 4-2 but the second quarter was all Tampa. The Spartans held LR scoreless in the frame and outscored LR 5-0 to take a 7-4 advantage into the break.

However, the Bears rallied after the break with goals from Will Canata, Eccleston and Evan Voss to tie it up at 7 just over five minutes into the second half. Tampa netted back-to-back goals to take a 9-7 lead with the final score coming at the 12:53 mark of the fourth quarter. However, that would be Tampa’s final tally of the game.

Evan Voss made it 9-8 with LR’s second man-up goal of the game and Tommy Aguilar tied it with 8:01 to play. It was Aguilar again at the 5:44 mark with the eventual game-winner off an assist from Canata as the Bears rallied to win it. Rob Pensabene made a game-winning save with 45 seconds to go, the final of his 15 stops on the afternoon.

Victor Powell made his return to the lineup and had one of seven caused turnovers for LR on the day. The 3-goal deficit in the second half was the fourth-largest second half comeback in LR men’s lacrosse history. The largest came in 2021 when LR erased a five-goal Tampa lead to win 16-15 in the NCAA Quarterfinals.

LR broke the program record for most assists in a season. They entered this game tied for the record with 175 before recording six more helpers. LR is five points away from breaking the team record in that category and 12 goals shy of that team record.

The Bears have played in nine total NCAA Tournament games in program history — all since 2017 — and have matched up with Tampa four times. The nine goals scored by the Spartans are their second-fewest on the season.

Today’s win also avenged a regular season loss the Bears suffered to Tampa this season, 13-9 in a neutral site game in Savannah.

The Bears will move on to play top-seeded Rollins on Sunday at Rollins. Face off is set for 1 p.m.