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Westminster Wins RMLC Tourament Championship

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. — Brett Bird scored his second goal of the game with 48 remaining in the second overtime to give the Westminster men’s lacrosse team a 13-12 victory over Northern Colorado and the 2011 RMLC Tournament championship.
Northern Colorado’s Garrett Luallen got the Bears off to a quick 2-0 lead with two scores less than 1:20 into the contest.  Gian Sexsmith followed Friday’s career day with the Griffins first three goals of the day, two unassisted and one on a feed from Josh Condas.  The first quarter ended 3-2 with Westminster (12-7) in the lead.
The Bears (8-6) knotted the score at 3-3 just over a minute into the 2nd period when Chris Nolan took a feed from Ter Wakefield and fired deep into the back of the net. Westminster responded with goals from Jake Arthur, Dallin Hall and Andy Butterfield to take a 6-4 lead into intermission.
UNC and Griffins dug in for a toe to toe battle in the third quarter, scoring four apiece.  Jake Wayman’s unassisted goal with a little more than three minutes to go gave the Griffins their largest lead at 10-6.  Following a UNC timeout, the Bears regrouped and came out with one final effort which knotted the score at 10-10 after a four-goal run.  Connor Saller scored his third goal of the day on a feed from Garrett Luallen with just over ten minutes to play in the fourth.
Bird took a pass from Jake Arthur at 9:11 in the fourth to inch the Griffins ahead 11-10, but a minute later it was tied again when UNC’s Chuck Tucker fired another Wakefield pass past Dallas McLellan knotting the score at 11.  The Griffins again took the lead, 12-11, as Brad Tack to a Jimmy Nguyen pass and fired over the shoulder of Bear goalie Ryan Elliott.  The lead lasted for 43 seconds as the Bears Clay Haverty’s unassisted goal on a top dodge down the alley slipped under Mclellan’s grasp with 4:04 left in regulation.
Outstanding goalie play ruled the next 11 minutes of action as Mclellan and Elliott each registered three saves and the crowd was treated to the thrilling back and forth battle.
Brett Bird scored the final blow to the valiant Bears attempt to claim the title when he scored on a cut and put a pass from Tack and earned the Griffins their third conference title, and avenged their title loss to the Bears in the 2009 title game.
Westminster claims the automatic invite to the MCLA National Championships later this month.  This RMLC title is the third in school history and the first since 2008.

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