COLLEGE MEN'S LACROSSE: A MAGICAL MEMORY FOR CORNING'S GROTTENTHALER AS HE PLAYED ROLE IN RIT WINNING 2ND STRAIGHT NATIONAL TITLE
(2022-06-19)By Brian FeesSouthern Tier Sports Report
A year ago Seth Grottenthaler stood on the sideline, celebrating as RIT won a national title.
The Corning graduate loved the chance to be a part of such a special win, in overtime in the national title game. But, when the team won again this year it was a little extra special as Grottenthaler wasn’t just a part of the team, he was on the field, scoring a goal in the win.
“It’s tough to put into words,” Grottenthaler said. “The first one was so special the way we put it to OT. Just to contribute to this National Championship made it that much better for me and I know the guys were excited as well.
“It was definitely a lot more special being able to contribute a lot more game to game this year. I got back halfway through the season because my ACL injury and I didn’t know how much I’d play and I just kept working and I earned a spot on the second line and earned more minutes.”
A year ago Grottenthaler was dressed for the national title, but he didn’t get into the game.
Last summer the Corning grad worked hard to get back and have a bigger role this year. Then came the first practice of the fall and a huge setback.
“I tore my ACL first practice of fall ball,” Grottenthaler said. “I got surgery on Sept. 13 and I got back in about 6 1/2 months from that injury.”
After being ready for a big sophomore year it was difficult for the Corning grad to have to deal with an injury.
“It was tough, when I did it the first practice I was pretty upset,” Grottenthaler said. “A few other guys who had the same injury said it was a grind to come back. I kept grinding though, it was pretty tough, but the guys being around me every day made it easier. I was just wanting to get back and play, I didn’t like to sit on the sidelines and watch.”
There were definitely moments where Grottenthaler wasn’t sure he’d ever get back in time to play this year.
“For sure, there were plenty of times,” he said. “I had a few talks with coach one-on-one and my dad one-on-one and talked about the risks of coming back early and what could happen if I did come back early.”
One thing that helped was Grottenthaler knowing that the coaches were behind him and believed he could contribute this year.
“I had a lot of talks with them when I was injured,” Grottenthaler said. “They kept telling me if I were to get back I could have a pretty significant role in helping win this title. They believed in me and I believed in what they were doing. It is a great relationship I had with the coaches.”
All the hard work, all the hours of rehabbing and working his way back, paid off when Grottenthaler scored in the 12-10 national title game win over Union.
“It was probably one of the coolest moments of my life,” Grottenthaler said. “I had so much emotion running through me at that point. I couldn’t think of anything else. I just scored in a national championship game, it was awesome.”
For Grottenthaler just getting a chance to play in that national title game made the whole experience extra special.
“It was just so much better,” the Corning grad said. “Once I got my call to go in I knew I was ready to go, I’ve been waiting for this opportunity since last year. I think I took advantage of the opportunity and gave it my all.”
As a freshman Grottenthaler played in seven games and scored two goals. This year he played in double as many games and had 11 goals and six assists.
As amazing as the first title was and as special as two in a row is, Grottenthaler is already thinking about next year.
“That was in the back of my head, all summer long I’ll be pushing as hard as I can going into next year,” Grottenthaler said. I”ts more motivation to keep going and try and win another one.”
Right now it’s been two years and two titles for Grottenthaler.
“It’s pretty crazy,” Grottenthaler said. “Myself and the rest of the sophomores in my class coming in and wining two off the bat is pretty special. We have two more years to compete and make more of an impact on the program. It’s just special. It’s an awesome opportunity we have and we can’t take it for granted.”
Grottenthaler knows that as they go into next year the bullseye will be even bigger on RIT’s back.
“It gets even bigger next year, it was already big,” Grottenthaler said. “We played St. John Fisher to a one-goal, we lost our first game in three years to RPI. Just coming up it is going to be even tougher. Every team just thinks of it as the Super Bowl playing us. It’s pretty good, we are getting everyone’s best every game.
“It’s pretty exciting. It definitely gives you a lot more focus and a lot more energy behind everything going on, because you know these guys are giving it all because they are playing RIT. I think the last few years of what we have done and we have all the motivation we need.”
Playing for RIT is special for Grottenthaler as it gives his family and friends a chance to see him play.
“It’s pretty awesome,” he said. “For the semifinals the Tufts game I had a few of my friends come up and my family come up. It was nice to have them an hour and a half away it keeps me going every day. It’s cool to see them there and support me.”
As special as it was to take on a bigger role this year, Grottenthaler feels like with a regular offseason where he’s not coming off an injury he can take an even bigger role as a junior next year.
“I think I can have a pretty big role,” he said. “We are losing our whole starting midfield, there is a lot of spots open. I think if I keep my head down and keep putting in the work I can be one of those first-line midfielders.”
It’s odd for Grottenthaler to think he’ll be a junior next year.
“That’s pretty crazy,” he said. “We had our end of the year meetings with coach and he said look Seth, you are a junior now and you have to start being one of the leaders. You are one of the older guys and I said, ‘wow, that flew by quick.’ I’m excited to play a bigger role.”
It’s nice for Grottenthaler to be able to represent Corning at a national level.
“At the championship game there were a few Corning kids behind the bench,” Grottenthaler said. “Younger kids calling my name. I said how are you doing and they said hey we are from Corning we are here to see you play and see Logan play in the D1 game.”
Two Corning athletes won lacrosse national titles as Corning native Logan McNaney was the a dominant force in goal for Maryland as they won the D1 title.
“It was pretty awesome,” Grottenthaler said. “We had the same opportunity last year, Logan played a tough Virginia team (in the final, a Maryland loss a year ago). But, he had an unreal weekend. It was cool to have both of us playing at such a high level in a big atmosphere. I talk to him here and there about the games and how we played. It’s cool doing great things like that, it’s just awesome.”
For Grottenthaler the past two years have been a big adjustment going from high school to a national championship level team in college.
“Its’ definitely a change of pace,” Grottenthaler said. “Division I is more athletic with some teams, but I think it’s just as competitive. We scrimmaged a few Division I teams and D2 teams in the fall and we came out beating some of them. There are some teams that can definitely compete in D1. It’s cool to see the competition you get in D3.”
And, being part of a program like RIT is special for the Corning grad. And, with a team this talented it’s taken time to earn that bigger role that led to him scoring in the national final.
“It’s pretty crazy,” Grottenthaler said. “Freshman year we had 60 something guys on the team because of the Covid year, we had so many stay for the fifth year, and we had some transfers help the team. To come in as a freshman it sucks, but the competition in practice makes everyone better. It’s a great culture at RIT, all the guys are awesome.”
Grottenthaler has seen a lot of improvement in his game over the past two seasons.
“Definitely a pretty large change,” Grottenthaler said. “Our offensive coach Shawn Wilkins, he’s a very knowledgeable guy. Just having him share his thoughts about what I can do better definitely increased my IQ quite a bit and the practices coach (head coach Jake) Coon puts us through, he knows what he’s doing. I’ve improved quite a bit since stepping on campus freshman year.”
PHOTO COURTESY OF RICH BARNES/RIT
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