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Rice leads CNU lacrosse to NCAA quarterfinals

Dylan Rice became the first Captain to eclipse 100 points in a single season as CNU won over Wesleyan 21-8 on Sunday.

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — Dylan Rice became the first Captain to eclipse 100 points in a single season while anchoring another explosive offensive showcase as the third-ranked Christopher Newport men's lacrosse team stormed into the NCAA Quarterfinals with a 21-8 victory over No. 14 Wesleyan (Conn.) on a sweltering Sunday afternoon at Jennings Family Stadium.

Against the Cardinals, Rice notched four points, including his 15th hat-trick of the year. With that performance, he bumped his season point total to 103, which is already 17 more than the previous school record. Meanwhile, his 70 goals this year place him eighth on the national charts in 2022.

Along with Rice, Andrew Cook added a team-high four goals, while Drew Miller contributed three strikes and an assist. Overall, 14 different Captains registered at least one point during the victory.

On the defensive end, Christopher Newport smothered the Cardinals with relentless pressure. Ryan Young forced five turnovers and collected nine ground balls, while Max Wayne, Campbell Pozin, and Phoenix Hines all had four takeaways apiece. Aided by that performance, the Captains threw a shutout in the third quarter while flipping a four-goal halftime lead into a comfortable 14-5 advantage entering the final period.

With the victory, Christopher Newport improved its record to 18-1 overall and advanced to the NCAA Quarterfinals for the second straight season. The Captains will return home next weekend when the squad hosts No. 6 York (Pa.) at noon on Saturday. Jennings Family Stadium will also host No. 8 Union and No. 16 Gettysburg in a showdown at 3 p.m. The winners of the quarterfinal contests will return to the field on Sunday at 3 p.m. with a berth in the national championship on the line.

Meanwhile, the setback put the final punctuation mark on Wesleyan's season with the Cardinals finishing at 13-6.

Facing a program that had won a national championship as recently as 2018, Christopher Newport traded blows with the visitors during the early going. Just over three minutes into regulation, the Captains caught the Cardinals in transition as Hines connected with Alex Brendes, who found Rice crashing inside for the game's first goal.

Later, after Wesleyan retaliated, Jackson Deal uncorked a low liner off a feed from Robby Adams to break the early deadlock.

Once again, the visitors responded before Christopher Newport found its rhythm on both ends of the field. Offensively, Cook pin-balled a blast off the crossbar and the back of the goalie's helmet for his first strike of the game. Later, after an initial feed by Will Stockhausen was broken up by a defender, Deal showed great hands and snagged the deflection before connecting with Brendes for the squad's fourth goal.

Just over two minutes later, Coby Auslander joined the fun after faking a pass before ripping from the top of the zone for a 5-2 lead.

Meanwhile, the defense was equally electric. Wayne de-sticked an attacker with a devastating check in the middle of the period, while Hines and Warner Cabaniss also added early takeaways. Later, during a man-down situation, Pozin batted away an insertion while flipping possession and killing off the penalty.

In the second stanza, Christopher Newport continued to stretch its lead. Cook launched a laser from the left side to get things started before Rice rolled across the top of the defense and eventually cruised past four Cardinals while slipping a seed through the keeper.

Continuing the onslaught, Stockhausen handcuffed the goalie after changing levels with a rocket from long range before Cook fired from his heels for his third goal of the first half.

On the other end, Pozin clamped down on a clear by Wesleyan with an interception near midfield. Shortly thereafter, Young and Zac Hanway bottled up a rally along the left post before Wayne stripped an attacker who attempted a fancy behind-the-back shot on the interior, which helped the hosts carry a 9-5 lead into halftime.

Following the break, Christopher Newport was nearly perfect in the third quarter. Rice opened the second-half scoring after capitalizing on a screen by Brady Altobello. Later, Logan Shassian found Miller for a bullet from the left side before Cook finished off his afternoon by flashing a well-rounded skill set during a one-on-one battle.

On the play, Cook lowered his shoulder and used some brute strength to bully a defender and get the Cardinal backpedaling along the left pipe. After generating some space, the sophomore All-American used a slick spin move to circle free along the crease before depositing from close range.

Still rolling, Auslander dropped a feed over the out-stretched sticks of four defenders before Altobello slipped a screamer just inside the pipe. Moments later, Brett Jackson joined the party and buried a one-timer under the crossbar, which handed the hosts a 14-5 lead.

Just as effective on the defensive end, Young caused three turnovers during the third quarter, including an interception along the crease and another pick during a failed clear attempt. Wayne also swarmed an attacker who attempted to roll across the top of the zone, and Pozin regained possession following a faceoff after bodying up a midfielder before completing the takeaway.

Entering the final stanza with a 14-5 advantage, Christopher Newport eased into the victory. Although the Cardinals were able to score two of the first three goals in the fourth quarter, the Captains never lost their groove.

Firing back, Hines picked the pockets of an attacker with a sensational stick lift before Young snatched the loose ball. Bolting down the field, the junior defenseman eventually gave up possession before securing a return feed on the way to some long-pole lightning for his second goal of the year.

Later, Adams shrugged off a bruising hit after ripping a strike from the right side before Miller added back-to-back goals, including a transition tally following a nice clear by Brandon Young. Shortly thereafter, Jackson found a shooting lane straight up the gut for his second dagger before Andrew Swartz used a dip, dodge, and dive along the crease for the squad's final goal, which iced the 21-8 triumph.

During the game, Christopher Newport out-shot the visitors, 57-21, and held a 40-25 advantage in ground balls. Additionally, the two teams evenly split the 32 faceoffs, while Cabaniss won 13 of his 22 battles and snatched seven rollers.

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