BALTIMORE, Md. -– Senior attack Corey Rich contributed eight points as No.3 Limestone (7-0, 2-0 CC) delivered a come-from-behind victory against No. 4 Merrimack (0-1, 0-0 NE-10) in a neutral site NCAA Division II men’s lacrosse game on Saturday. That win avenges last year’s 12-11 loss, one of just two on the season.
Trailing 8-7 with 3:11 left in the third quarter, Rich began a streak for the ages as he notched the tying goal with 27 seconds left in the period. Following a goal by the Warriors’ Greg Melaugh that put Merrimack up 9-8 at the 11:49 mark of the fourth, it would be all Saints, or perhaps more accurately, all Rich.
Down late, Rich came through in the clutch, drilling the tying goal at 7:40 and then, not satisfied with that, rifled home the go-ahead goal just 31 seconds later to give Limestone a 10-9 advantage. He wasn’t done leading the comeback as he found one of the top scorers in the country in Loewen for another goal at 5:06 for a two-goal lead.
The Saints were far from done but it would be junior attack Todd Nakasuji’s (Ajax, Ontario, Canada) turn, with a little more help from Rich, as he provided instant offense. Following another faceoff win by senior face-off specialist Jake Ternosky that put the ball back in the hands of Limestone’s potent offense, Nakasuji made it count, taking a pass from Rich and leaving it in the back of the net at the 4:53 mark.
It would take just nine seconds as one pass from the faceoff and a Nakasuji laser shot made it 13-9 and all but put the game away. Melaugh would chime in once more with an unassisted goal at 2:24 to reach the final margin of 13-10.
“This was a terrific early-season win”, said head coach J.B. Clarke. “Our strength and conditioning coach won this one. We battled for 60 minutes and made some great plays in the fourth quarter to beat a great Merrimack team that was very well coached [Friday]“.
Rich clearly led the attack for the Saints with five goals and three assists to go along with three groundballs while senior attack Riley Loewen finished with two goals, a pair of assists and five groundballs. Giving the Saints offense the ball a career-high 22 times out of 27 was Ternosky. He also posted a career-best 11 groundballs on the day.
Adding to the offensive eruption were senior midfielder Zach Cummings and Todd Nakasuji, both of whom had a pair of goals and an assist. Senior midfielder Tor Reinholdt dished out two assists and his brother, freshman midfielder Reid Reinholdt, finished with an assist and eight groundballs.
Senior midfielder Ahmaad Simmons picked up six groundballs and added a pair of caused turnovers and senior goalkeeper Christian Dzwilewski played a strong game in goal, allowing 10 goals and making 11 saves to improve to a perfect 6-0 on the year.
Prior to the fireworks over the final 15:27, neither team could gain a significant advantage as Merrimack opened the game with a goal at 12:21 before three unanswered scores by the Saints made it 3-1 with 4:26 left in the first. Tewaaraton nominee Corey Lunney pulled the Warriors to within one at 3-2 near the beginning of the second.
Following that goal, Loewen connected off a pass from Cummings for a two-goal lead which Lunney then promptly erased with back-to-back scores in 18 seconds. Tied at 4-4 with 4:05 left in the first half, Corey Rich got his first of the day for a 5-4 lead a minute later but it would be Merrimack’s Melaugh that delivered consecutive scores this time, giving the Warriors a 6-5 advantage near the start of the third quarter.
Rich got his second of the game at 9:18 to tie and goals by MC’s Jamie Shand and the Saints Zach Cummings then left it deadlocked at 7-7. A third goal by Melaugh then set the stage for Limestone’s wild and triumphant finish.
Melaugh led the way for Merrimack with a team-high four goals along with four groundballs while Corey Lunney had three goals, an assist and three groundballs. Mike Perdie finished with a goal and two assists and Shand had a goal and assist. Paul Gallagher added a solo score and Brandon Waiter had one assist to wrap up the offensive production. Connor Reagan played all 60 minutes between the pipes, getting dinged for all 13 goals while making 14 saves. Of that number 12 came in the first half with one each in the third and fourth.