FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Vito DeMola studies martial arts and works in his dad’s karate school on Long Island.
“That’s what I plan on doing, but hopefully not tomorrow,” DeMola said. “Hopefully he gives me a couple of days off.”
|DII LAX CHAMPIONSHIP|
• Dowling 11, Limestone 10
Recap Stats Highlights Photos
|DeMola talks about second half adjustments|
|Boyle says senior leadership gave his team the edge|
|Dougherty reflects on Dowling’s win|
If anyone deserves some down time, it’s DeMola after his performance Sunday in the Division II Men’s Lacrosse national championship game. DeMola senior from Holtsville, N.Y., scored four goals and had two assists in Dowling’s 11-10 victory against Limestone that left DeMola and his teammates beyond giddy.
“I always had a plan of ‘I’m gonna do this if we win the national championship,’ or ‘I’m gonna kiss the trophy,’ or ‘I want to run around with the flag.’ But as soon as that buzzer went off I didn’t know what to do,” Demola said. “I was like where’s our goalie, where’s our face-off guy, who’s that kissing me on the cheek?”
He reached over to the championship trophy that he and his teammates brought to the postgame news conference.
“This sums it up all right here,” DeMola said. “There’s nothing I would trade, not one moment of my career I wish I change because in the end, it led to this trophy.”
Senior teammate Brendan Hayes, who had three assists and finished with a team-high 22, said, “It really hasn’t hit me yet that we’re national champions.”
They got there by first bursting out to a 4-0 lead, but Limestone finally woke up and pulled to 4-3 at halftime. The Saints took the lead 6-5, Dowling went up again 7-6 and then took the lead for good 8-7 with 10:25 remaining on a tremendous individual effort by the Golden Lions’ Billy Richardson.
The lead was 10-8 when DeMola struck again, scoring what proved to be the game-winner and giving him a team-high 36 for the season to go with 12 assists. In 2011 he also led Dowling with 46 goals.
“Vito is an especially talented player,” senior teammate Brendan Hayes said. “He’s our main threat on offense. He really stepped up today and helped us a lot. We needed that goal when Limestone had that run late and we turned to Vito. He stepped up to the plate and he delivered.”
He certainly impressed Limestone.
“He’s a terrific player. You need guys to rise up like that in championship games and the playoffs,” second-year Limestone coach J.B. Clarke said.
“He had a great game,” Saints senior Jackson Decker said.
Dowling, a Long Island school with a roster consisting almost entirely of players from the island, finished its season 13-2. That’s a school record for wins and those weren’t just any two losses, either.
In the case of Limestone and Dowling, the two teams played this past May 6 and Limestone came away with a 15-7 victory. But it wasn’t that simple.
“We’ve had a selfless attitude all year long. That’s really what got us to this point. We had a believe, commit and follow-through philosophy and today that’s what happened,” 12th-year Dowling coach Tim Boyle said.
“Limestone’s an amazing team. Coach Clarke does a great job. They’re very dangerous and we knew we’d have to weather some storms and we kind of had a feeling that last time we played ‘em we didn’t give ‘em our best.”
Certainly not in the second quarter. That’s because in their last meeting, at Dowling, the game was tied 4-4 after one period. But Limestone exploded to a 12-5 halftime lead.
“It’s hard to put into words,” Boyle said. “It’s all we talked about since May 6. That day was hard. It was our senior day and we lost by eight and thought we were out of the playoffs. Four hours later, we were very low, but we had some luck, a little fate maybe, and we’re in the playoffs. And we were able to say to ourselves, hey, now we get an opportunity to make up for some mistakes we made during the year.”
Since the Division II field is only four teams, they did so by winning at Mercyhurst College 7-6 in overtime to get here. Earlier in the season, then-No. 1 Mercyhurst won at Dowling 7-6.
“We were able to avenge one loss and then sure enough we get the opportunity to avenge another loss,” Boyle said. “And what we talked about all week long is that you don’t get these opportunities in life. From here on in you might not be able to make up for any mistakes and you got the opportunity to make up for two in the same season.
“It really was an amazing feeling. To be able to do it this way and be able to come back and win two games against the two teams we lost to during the regular season, you can’t write that.”
Not beforehand but certainly after. However, the final storyline goes to DeMola.
“It really hit us yesterday,” DeMola said. “We were on the bus coming home from dinner and the team started singing some songs on the bus and we were in this like upbeat mood and everyone was going crazy and then Coach handed us these letters from our parents and the team went from singing “Sweet Caroline” to crying.
“And that’s when it really hit us, that we had something special ahead of us today.”
Something that’s special enough to miss a few days of karate over.