Limestone holds off Merrimack to give head coach J.B. Clarke his 200th victory
TOWSON, Md. -- Leading 8-4 late in the fourth, No. 5 Limestone (5-1, 0-0 CC) staved off a furious comeback to hang on for an 8-7 victory against No. 8 Merrimack (2-1, 2-0 NE-10) on Sunday. That victory gives head coach J.B. Clarke the 200th win of his career with a 200-75 overall record.
Senior attack Todd Nakasuji led the charge for Limestone with five points on a pair of goals and three assists while sophomore midfielder Mike Messenger finished with a goal, two assists, three ground balls and a pair of caused turnovers. One of those assists went to sophomore attack Kyle Rhatigan, who notched a goal and two assists.
Senior midfielder Joshua Williams and freshman midfielder Colton Watkinson each added a goal and two ground balls while sophomore goalkeeper Patrick Sheridan went the distance in net, allowing seven goals and making 12 saves to improve to 5-1 on the season. His efforts were aided by three caused turnovers from junior defender Peter Papaleonti to round out the top performers.
"It was really nice of our guys to give me the game ball after the game," Clarke said. "When they said congratulations, I really did not know what they were referring to. I thought they had found 200 balls! We have been very blessed to work with so many terrific young men over the years. The credit goes to them and the assistant coaches. Thanks to Coach [Mike] Cerino and Limestone College for giving me the opportunity."
A rematch of one of the Saints tougher wins from a year ago, it would be Limestone that would jump out on top early. Nakasuji assisted on a pair of Ricci goals at the very beginning and end of the opening quarter while Messenger found Rhatigan at the 5:05 mark to help push out to a 3-1 lead.
After notching just one score in what was an explosive period for the Saints, Merrimack would take their turn at the beginning of the second as Ryan Poirier and James Caruso went back-to-back with unassisted goals at 13:55 and 12:25, respectively, to tie the score at 3. That deadlock would be short-lived as a goal by Watkinson at 8:04 would spearhead a run of four consecutive goals that stretched to the 10:12 mark of the third quarter. That streak left Limestone with a commanding 7-3 advantage.
After neither team was able to find their offense during the next 20:05, a drought that made it more than 9 minutes into the fourth, the teams exchanged goals in rapid succession with Poirier notching another unassisted at 5:07 and Joshua Williams connecting at 4:42 off a pass from Messenger.
With the game seemingly in hand at 8-4 with just minutes to play, it would be the Warriors that would maintain that burst of offense as Poirier delivered his third unassisted score, this time at 3:36, and was quickly followed by a man-up goal by Max Allen a little more than a minute later to cut it to 8-6.
Tim Towler then took it himself with 1:22 remaining to slice it to a one-goal deficit before Andrew Walsh claimed the ensuing face-off for Merrimack. Off of that win it would race down the field and put a pair of hard shots on goal but could not convert the equalizer as the Saints held on for the dramatic 8-7 victory.
Poirier paced the Warriors with three scores while Towler had a pair of goals. Walsh was dominant on the face-offs, winning 13 of 17 and collecting a game-high six ground balls and Allen and Caruso had a goal apiece. Tucker Schwarz collected the lone assist on the day for Merrimack and Morgan Green played all 60 minutes between the pipes, making five saves to fall to 2-1 on the year.