Le Moyne takes charge in third quarter, holds off Mercyhurst rally to win title
PHILADELPHIA -- When it comes to nail-biters, the 2013 Men's Lacrosse Championships are bordering on the ridiculous.
Saturday’s Division I semifinals saw a pair of down-to-the wire affairs. Division II followed suit Sunday.
Mercyhurst, trying to finish a perfect season and become just the sixth team since 1974 to run the table in DII, made a dramatic late charge after trailing 11-5 early in the final quarter. Down one in the closing minutes, the Lakers, who entered the game 18-0 and coming off back-to-back overtime victories, created numerous chances to tie it but could not put one by Le Moyne goalie Jeff White -- and the frame of the net.
Le Moyne, located in Syracuse, N.Y, and barely five minutes from Syracuse University, held on to win 11-10 and claim its first NCAA title since 2007. Head coach Dan Sheehan also led the program to titles in 2004 and '06. The Dolphins lost in the NCAA final in 2009 and '10.
“Everybody in our locker room is proud of the fact that we could have a game that was absolutely fantastic for everybody in attendance,” said Sheehan, whose squad finished 18-2. “It was very similar to the type of games played on Saturday.”
Andrew Chadderdon’s slick underhand scoop from just in front of Mercyhurst goalie Michael Grace pushed Le Moyne’s margin to 11-5 early in the final period.
Mercyhurst then mounted a charge.
Brady Heseltine’s screamer made it 11-6 at the 11:21 mark. Brian Scheetz from eight feet away and it was 11-7. Heselstine again, and it was 11-8 with 7:52 remaining. Ian Brooks from the right wing and the margin was two at the 6:35 mark. Jake McAndrew’s solo drive to the net cut it to one with 2:49 left.
During a chaotic final two minutes, Mercyhurst hit the post twice and missed a pair of in-close chances. White came up big a number of times. He finished with 13 saves overall and withstood the 17-shot final quarter onslaught.
“We have all the confidence in the world in Jeff,” said fellow senior Nate Frechette, who finished with three goals and an assist. “I wouldn’t want anybody else back there.”
Tyler Prevost, Miller’s roommate, simply said, “I love him.”
“We knew they were going to make a run, they’ve been doing it all year,” said White, the DII Most Outstanding Player of the tournament. “We knew they were going to score some goals. We just tried to keep our heads out there. I really don’t know what was going through my head out there.
“Thank God for that post. I am just thankful the ball didn’t go into the net.”
“Once you get past the sting of it there is nothing to hang our heads about,” Mercyhurst head coach Dan Ryan said.” It was a tremendous game. It was a script we’ve followed all year long, but you always wonder when the law of probability is going to come back and get you.”
Mercyhurst, now 0-7 all time against Le Moyne, beat Limestone, 18-17 in overtime in the semifinals. In the quarterfinals, it was a 10-9 overtime victory against Lake Erie.
Mercyhurst struggled to find any offense for most of the first half. After James Chayka’s cross-field run and goal put the Lakers up 2-1, a 20-minute scoreless stretch followed that saw Le Moyne build a 5-2 advantage deep into the second quarter. But, three tallies in 1:33, including back-to-back goals in five seconds by McAndrew and Mitch McAvoy, along with Chayka’s second of the day, suddenly had it tied at 5 entering intermission.
Le Moyne outscored the Lakers 5-0 in the third quarter and led 10-5 with 15 minutes remaining.