CANTON A 3-3 score after three periods sounds more like a Clarkson-St. Lawrence hockey game heading into overtime.
But it was the score heading into the fourth quarter for the two longtime rivals in mens lacrosse Friday afternoon at Hall-Leet Stadium.
In a game featuring tenacious defense by both teams, an offensive gem late in the fourth quarter by Clarksons Matthew Gold propelled the Golden Knights to a 7-5 victory and a berth in the Liberty League playoff championship game Sunday at Rochester Institute of Technology.
Clarkson will play RIT, ranked third in the nation, for the league championship and an automatic berth in the NCAA tournament at noon Sunday in Rochester.
Gold, who came into the game with a team-high 21 goals, beat his man and burst out from behind the cage to fire home his game-high fourth goal of the game from close range, giving Clarkson a 6-5 lead with just 2 minutes, 23 seconds left in regulation. Jamie Stuhlinger added one more with 1:06 remaining for the winners.
Number 25 (Gold) took over a little, said Clarkson coach Bill Bergan. He got a step and then he finished it. That was a great goal and it was a great win for us.
The Saints (10-5) had defeated the Knights 10-3 on April 10 on the same field, but on Saturday Clarkson (10-5) held SLU scoreless for the first 28 minutes and 22 seconds of regulation.
SLU is such a tough team, but today we came out strong, like they did against us the first time we played them, Gold said. Ryan Cole (10 saves) was amazing in goal and our defense held us in it like they have all year.
Down 3-1 early in the third quarter, the Saints rallied to take their first lead at 5-4 with 9:15 left in regulation. David Hovey connected for his second goal of the day on a shot from behind the net that bounced off Coles stick and into the cage.
But Lowvilles Mark Nortz tied it at 5-5 a minute later on a scorcher along the ground for Clarkson, setting up Golds game-winner.
This game is always huge, said Bergan whos in his 26th season coaching the Knights team. Cole had an average game the first time we played them, but he played super today. Nortzs goal was awesome, a great shot he tucked in the far corner.
Said Saints coach Mike Mahoney: We knew it would be a battle. This game was more indicative of the two teams this year. They capitalized on their opportunities. We didnt finish off our possessions.
Peter Goss also scored for Clarkson.
For SLU, Jeremy Vantour scored twice, Pierson Fowler scored once, and goalie Jack Nuland made eight saves.
RIT defeated Union 13-7 in the other playoff semifinal Friday.
RIT beat Clarkson 11-6 in Potsdam during the regular season.
GOLDEN KNIGHTS HONORED
Clarksons mens lacrosse team had four athletes chosen as first-team all-stars by the Liberty League.
Brendan Shearin, Corey Herrington, Dylan Broomfield and J.D. St. Croix were Clarksons players chosen for the first team.
Ryan Cole was a second-team selection and Rick Clement and Matthew Gold earned honorable mention status.
■ Watertown native Christine Wright was a second-team selection to the all-Liberty League team and also was named the Rookie of the Year in womens lacrosse.
Clarksons Katie VanDeValk and Alyssa Cristaldi earned first-team honors and Jeannette Pendergast was honorable mention.