The Selection Show is complete and there are just eight teams remaining in the hunt for the Division II Men's Lacrosse Championships. It’s time to look at some of the contenders.
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The Saints are an easy pick. They are the No. 1 team in both the South Region and DII after capturing their 10th Conference Carolinas championship in the past 11 years. They have also been to the championship game each of the past three seasons, dropping 8-4 to Le Moyne last season after winning the previous two.
Limestone is fueled by the best offense in DII, scoring 317 goals (16.68 per game) this season. Junior Charlie Sheehan paces them, behind a team-best 55 goals. Limestone has a very balanced attack, however, as six more Saints added in 20 or more goals. Five Saints have recorded double-digit assists, with Ryan Maciejewski leading the way with 27.
Keep an eye on Kevin Reisman as well. He may not light up the box scores with only five points on the season, but the senior midfielder was the Conference Carolinas Defensive Player of the Year while leading DII in face-off winning percentage, face-offs won and ground balls per game.
Dolphins head coach Dan Sheehan is the only head coach in Le Moyne history to lead his or her team to a national championship.
He’s done it five times in his 20-year career including, most recently, the 2016 title.
Le Moyne returned five starters from last year's championship squad. While they weren’t able to pull off a perfect 20-0 season as they did last year, they do enter the tournament 14-2 and Northeast-10 Champions, defeating No. 3-ranked Adelphi for the title on Sunday.
The Dolphins are the best defensive team in DII, surrendering just 5.5 goals per game and creating the second most turnovers per game. Junior transfer goalkeeper Jack Sweeney has been the imposing presence in net behind that defense. He’s started all 16 games, posting a 59.7 save percentage and a 5.62 goals against mark.
Offensively, junior attack Justin Kesselring leads the charge behind a career-best 38 goals, while sophomore midfielder Dan Entenmann leads the team with 15 assists. Keep an eye on freshman attack Matt Hutchings who seems to be heating up at the right time. He has five goals and three assists in his last three games, including a two goal, one assist performance in the NE10 championship.
The Dolphins face a worthy adversary in round one — Merrimack is no typical three-seed. This is a team that defeated the No. 1 ranked Saints a few weeks back and took Le Moyne to double overtime before succumbing to them in the semifinals of the NE10 tournament. Le Moyne is hoping their time-tested experience in the postseason allows them to advance.
The Panthers ended the regular season on a sour note, dropping the NE10 Championship to Le Moyne by a score of 7-2. But that did not dissuade the selection committee from seeing the talent on this team, as they still earned the No. 1 seed in the North.
Adelphi’s biggest challenge may come right off the bat, when they face off against a sleeper in the tournament. Pace is making its first-ever NCAA postseason appearance. NE10 Coach of the Year Tom Mariano led the Setters to a 12-win season, the most Pace has recorded this millennium.
They also split the season series with Adelphi.
However, if the Panthers can repeat their performance from the NE10 semifinals, where they beat Pace 11-5, they will be more than ready for a possible rematch with Le Moyne.
Adelphi’s game is based on strong defense. They posted a 7.12 goals-against average, but only scored 10.65 points per game. Sophomore goalkeeper Brendan McDougal is amongst the best in DII, with a .607 save percentage, second in the Division.
Despite the Panthers not having a top 25 offense, they are very well balanced. Adelphi has four players that have scored 20 or more goals and six who have recorded 20 or more points. Freshman attack Nicolas Racalbuto has been a goal-scoring machine, leading the Panthers with 32.
Junior Ian Kirby and sophomore Gordon Purdie, Jr. were models of consistency. Kirby scored 29 goals and added 20 assists, while Purdie, Jr. scored 19 goals and added a team-best 23 assists.
They will need to be atop their game for Adelphi to have a chance.
While Pace is certainly the feel-good story of the tournament playing with the extra fire of their debut run, keep an eye on Tampa.
Tampa earned the No. 3 seed in the South Region and a match up against No. 2 Lenoir-Rhyne. While the two haven’t met since the 2013 season, the Spartans have a 2-0 edge over their first round foe.
The Spartans have one of the most prolific goal scorers in DII history. Sophomore Andrew Kew set the NCAA single-season record with an astounding 81 goals. He is paired with senior Connor Whipple who had 35 goals and 56 points. The dangerous duo recorded 91 points apiece, with Whipple earning his third Sunshine State Conference Player of the Year Award (his father was Coach of the Year, talk about a feel-good story).
Big time players find a way to make a huge impact in the postseason. Tampa’s duo can certainly be that force.