Fredonia State to host RPI in NCAA tournament game today

The Fredonia State Blue Devils will play host to Rennsalaer Polytechnic Institute on Saturday at University Stadium in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Game time is 3 p.m.

Gates open at 2 p.m., with ticket prices set at $5 for adults and $2 for students. In addition, the first 150 Fredonia State students displaying a valid college identification card will be admitted free of charge courtesy of the Blue Devil Booster Club.

This is the first meeting ever between the two teams from opposite ends of New York State. The Blue Devils gained entry through an at-large entry, while the Engineers from Troy won the Liberty League title for the third straight year and earned an automatic NCAA bid.

“I know they are a good team,”?Fredonia State coach?Chris Case said. “This will be the first time we have ever played them. They won the Liberty League championship the last three seasons and last year in the NCAA tournament, they went to the Elite 8, which is the farthest they have ever been. They have expereince on us. I expect a really good matchup.”

Fredonia State and Rensselaer played two common opponents this season: Oneonta and St. Lawrence. The Blue Devils won both of those games, 12-7 over St. Lawrence on March 14 in Delray Beach, Fla.; and 13-8 over Oneonta in a SUNYAC game at home on April 12. The Engineers dropped their season opener at Oneonta, 6-5, on March 1; and defeated St. Lawrence, 18-4, in a Liberty League home game on April 25.

The Blue Devils bring an 11-6 record into the game while the Engineers are 13-4.

The winner of Saturday’s game advances to the regional round and will meet the winner of the Carleton at Trinity (Conn.) second-round game. The site of the game will be determined.

“We are just looking to play good lacrosse and be competitive,”?Case said. “We want to be able to run our offense and play solid defense. We know they will bring some challenges that will potentially force us to change a few things. I know they have done extremely well in draw control this year. They have three players above 40 and one above 60.”

Fredonia State’s top players in draw control are Katie Kleine and Marissa Cussins, who both have more than 40 this year.

After losing in the SUNYAC?playoffs, it was a long shot for the Blue Devils to receive an at-large bid.

“I told the team last Friday, ‘I don’t think we have any shot because there are so many good teams in the country,'” Case said. “Sunday when they announced our team was in, there was excitement beyond belief. We have had a great week of practice. We have had a lot of focus this week and we just want to make sure we make the most of our second opportunity.”

The last time Fredonia State hosted a?NCAA?tournament game was two years ago when the Blue Devils lost in overtime. Five players from that squad are members of this year’s team.

“Two years ago we had the same opportunity and came up just short,”?Case concluded. “I have five girls from that squad and those girls know what it’s about and know how close we were. We are looking to advance. We are excited about making it, but not satisified. We want more than just be part of the tournament.”