1978 National Championship Tribute

Just seven years into its history, the Roanoke College men’s lacrosse team captured the national championship, winning the crown with a 14-13 victory over Hobart.
The team opened its season with seven-straight victories, winning by an average of 10 goals a game during the run.  The season-opener turned out to be one of the most lopsided victories in program history, a 32-goal trouncing of Virginia Tech. Following that game, the Maroons got a big 9-7 win over Duke on the road, scoring five times in the fourth period and overcoming a four-goal deficit. Other than the easy win in the season-opener, games were tight during the run. Three times, the Maroons either trailed or were tied heading into the fourth quarter of play.
After beating Duke, five more teams fell at the hands of the Maroons, including UMBC and Denison. The Maroons’ hot run came to an end with a 14-10 loss to North Carolina in a game in which the Maroons held a one-goal lead heading into the fourth period. The Maroons got outscored 8-3 in the final period of play and suffered their first loss.
Paul Griffin’s squad rebounded in style, downing Salisbury State University, 12-7, in the next game. The Maroons fell back into the loss column, falling to Towson State, 15-13, but would not taste defeat for the remainder of the season.
Going into the tournament, the Maroons gained tremendous momentum, beating Division I Washington & Lee University, 14-11, the team’s first ever win over the Generals.  Roanoke jumped out to a 6-3 first period lead over Adelphi in the First Round of the NCAA tournament, and went on to win, 13-8. Richard Graham scored four goals and added four assists in the win.
The semifinal round saw a familiar opponent on the docket. The Maroons had to get through UMBC once again if they wanted to play for the national championship. Having already beaten UMBC earlier in the season, the Maroons pulled out another win, 12-7. Despite being outshot 46-38 in the game, the Maroons got the victory behind a six-goal performance by George Parks. John Neuhror and John Sullivan combined to stop 29 shots for the Maroons.
Going into the national championship game, the Maroons knew they were the underdogs. Hobart was the two-time defending national champion and had played in every title game since 1974. In its first two tournament games, Hobart had outscored its opponents 53-15.
Offense took center stage in the first period, with the two teams combing to score 13 goals. After the first period, the Maroons held a slim 7-6 lead. Hobart took control in the second quarter, outscoring Roanoke 5-2 to take an 11-9 lead at the break.
After three periods of play, the Maroons were able to cut the Hobart lead to 12-11, setting up the most important 15 minutes in team history.  Tied at 13 with less than a minute to go, Griffin threw a little trickery at Hobart, which allowed Maroon defenseman Bob Rotanz to score the winning goal. His second goal of the season gave the Maroons a 14-13 lead and seconds later the team owned its first ever national championship.
Following the game, goalie John Sullivan was named the MVP of the tournament after making 18 saves in the championship game and 43 in Roanoke’s three postseason contests.
The Maroons finished the season with a 12-2 overall record. The win total was a program record for victories in a season, which held for nearly 30 years.  Only the 2009 team ties the 1978 squad with the fewest losses in one season.