No. 1 Mercyhurst rallies from the brink, tops No. 2 Limestone 18-17 in overtime
Undefeated Lakers advance to national championship game
ERIE, Pa. -- For the second time in three years, Mercyhurst will play for the NCAA championship. The tale of how the Lakers advanced to the title game will echo throughout Tullio Field for years to come. Deven Alves scored with 2:56 left in overtime, giving No. 1 Mercyhurst an 18-17 win against No. 2 Limestone in a classic NCAA tournament semifinal Saturday.
Trailing 17-15 with less than a minute remaining, Mercyhurst scored as Zac Reid, who registered a career-high seven goals, found the back of the net with 58 seconds remaining. Jake Ternosky won yet another faceoff on the ensuing draw, allowing the Saints to try to run out of the clock. Limestone ran around the offensive zone, eventually calling timeout with 18 seconds to play.
Tor Reinholdt had possession on the restart, but Peter Plaskey forced Reinholdt to turn the ball over, giving Mercyhurst one last attempt. Ryan Sullivan carried the ball to midfield and hit James Chayka on the left side. Chayka cut back to the right and fired from nine yards out, scoring with 4.1 seconds showing on the clock. The crowd of 1,042 was delirious as time ran out and overtime began.
Ternosky won his 28th draw of the day to open the extra period. He quickly attacked, firing a shot that Michael Grace got just enough of, keeping the game alive. After clearing the ball, Mercyhurst head coach Chris Ryan called timeout. Alves ended up with the ball behind the net, drove to the left of Limestone goalie Christian Dzwilewski and spun to create separation. Alves then etched his name in Laker lore with a bouncing shot that beat Dzwilewski and sent Mercyhurst to Philadelphia and the national championship game.
The road to that point was as thrilling as the finish. Mercyhurst and Limestone stood toe-to-toe and traded their best shots for more than 61 minutes in a contest that produced 12 ties. Jake McAndrew opened the scoring with 11:59 left in the first quarter. The Saints evened the score almost three minutes later, but Alves found the back of the net with 1:20 to play, giving the Lakers a 2-1 edge through a period.
After a Limestone goal at the 7:28 mark of the second frame, Mercyhurst scored three consecutive goals. Brady Heseltine hit Brian Scheetz for a goal 16 seconds after the Saints tied it. Less than two minutes later, Scheetz assisted on a Reid goal. Mitch McAvoy won the ensuing faceoff and sprinted in, scoring his ninth goal of the season for a 5-2 advantage with 5:06 left in the half. Reinholdt, Riley Loewen and Corey Rich each scored in the final 3:09 of the first half for Limestone, sending the match into the half tied at 5.
In the third period, a switch was flipped and the teams took off, combining for 13 goals in an 11-minute span. Chayka gave the Lakers a 6-5 lead with 11:53 remaining in the quarter, but Limestone responded with three goals in 34 seconds, taking an 8-6 edge. Mercyhurst quickly answered, as Reid scored and then Scheetz hit Heseltine for a man-up goal with 7:15 left to pull the Lakers even at 8.
Ternosky was just getting rolling, though, controlling the faceoff X as the Saints continued to pound the Mercyhurst defense. Luckily for Lakers, Reid was up to the challenge. Loewen scored with 7:04 to play, but Reid came back with a goal to tie it at 9. After a Saints goal with 3:12 remaining, Reid tied it again. Todd Nakasuji scored 26 seconds later, but Scheetz found Reid with 1:06 showing on the clock, making it 11-11. Limestone closed the high-flying quarter with a goal just eight seconds later.
In the fourth quarter, McAndrew scored with 11:05 to go, getting the Lakers even again. Ternosky then took matters into his own hands, winning the draw and scoring five seconds later. Ternosky was called for a penalty on the next faceoff, setting up the Lakers. Scheetz assisted on yet another Reid goal to make it 13-13 with 10:48 to go. Nakasuji then scored two goals in a row, 15 seconds apart. Chayka found Alves and then McAndrew finished a Scheetz pass to even the score again.
Reid's seven goals are the most by a Laker since 2009, when Cameron McLean scored seven times against Dominican (N.Y.). Scheetz totaled a goal and six assists. Alves and McAndrew each had a hat trick, while Chayka posted two goals and an assist. Heseltine added a goal and an assist. Grace made 12 saves in goal. Rich paced the Saints with three goals and three assists, while Dzwilewski compiled 13 stops in net.
Mercyhurst improved to 18-0 in 2013 and will face Le Moyne in the NCAA championship on May 26, at Lincoln Financial Field. Limestone finished at 16-2.