PHILADELPHIA -- A week after ending one reign, Nazareth College began its own yesterday.
Nazareth, behind a superb offensive showing, scored the game's final eight goals in the last 12 minutes to defeat Roanoke, 22-11, and win the NCAA Division III lacrosse championship before 6,741 at the University of Pennsylvania's Franklin Field.
After the game, Nazareth players finally began "a full celebration" that some of the Golden Flyers said could last a week.
Who could blame them?
Last Sunday, Nazareth (14-1) pulled off the upset of the season defeating 12-time defending champion and host Hobart, 13-12, in overtime in the semifinals.
"The victory over Hobart meant everything we've been working for for the past six years," said Nazareth coach Scott Nelson. "But we tried to defuse it as much as possible. We wanted to enjoy it for 24 hours, but we knew we still had another game against a great team."
"This is all pretty exciting stuff, the win over Hobart, the national championship," said Greg Gebhardt, Nazareth's goalie, who was outstanding with 21 saves. "We wanted to leave no doubt about who was the best team out there. Let the celebrations begin."
There was no comparison in skill level. At times, Nazareth played like Syracuse incognito. There were several no-look assists and a couple of over-the-shoulder goals.
The leaders were senior midfielder Ronnie Davis, who had six goals and three assists, and sophomore attackman Cam Bomberry, who scored four goals.
But Nazareth wasn't all fluff. The Golden Flyers outhustled Roanoke (12-5) for ground balls, 69-51, and scored nearly half of their goals off unsettled situations, including three from a ferocious 10-man ride.
"We didn't expect them to 10-man-ride us," said Roanoke coach Bill Pilat. "That's the most goals we've allowed all year, including games against Duke and Virginia. That tells you about the firepower they have."