The stage is set. Three former NCAA Division 2 Lacrosse Champions remain along with a program that has been knocking on the door for quite some time. Will Le Moyne continue their run and take the next step to ride off in the Division 2 sunset and enter Division 1 as national champions? Will Chris Ryan lead Mercyhurst back to the bright lights of Championship Weekend? Will Limestone take back the title of “Kings of the South?” Or will the Bears of Lenoir-Rhyne take the rubber match against the Saints and get another crack at a national title? These questions will be answered this weekend as these Division 2 Lacrosse juggernauts meet to decide who will play on Championship Weekend. If these games are anything like the previous tournament games, then this weekend has the ability to be some of the most exciting lacrosse in the month of May.
Le Moyne vs. Mercyhurst – Saturday, May 20th @1:00pm
Death, taxes, and having to run through the northern gauntlet to get to Championship Weekend. Having to beat a team like Adelphi once is hard enough. Having to beat them three times in one season and two of those coming in playoff atmospheres is ridiculous. Le Moyne advances to the NCAA Semifinals for the fourth straight season, the 17th time in the last 21 seasons, and will host seventh-ranked and second-seeded Mercyhurst. Mercyhurst advanced to the semifinals with a 10-9 win over sixth-seeded Saint Anselm College. The Dolphins and the Lakers will meet for the 11th time, including the fourth time in NCAA Championship play, while the Lakers will be making their first trip to the Le Moyne campus.
This game is going to come down to defense. Le Moyne’s trademark defense will be tested against the Lakers, averaging over 16 goals per game, led by the two-headed monster of Myles Hamm (52 goals) and Ethan Landymore (49 goals) at attack. The train runs through those guys and Le Moyne will have their hands full down low. If Mercyhurst can continue to get production at the midfield and attack from multiple areas, then that will put pressure on the stingy defense of Le Moyne. On the other side, the Dolphins are no slouches on offense either. The ‘Phins are led by Joey Pezzimenti and his 42 goals. What stands out about them offensively is how balanced they are. They have six players with over 20 goals and seven with over 25 points this season. With multiple weapons, they will put the Mercyhurst defense to the test, which is one of the best in Division 2 Lacrosse as they are only giving eight goals a game.
Things to Watch
- Transition: This game will come down to both teams’ ability to handle transition on the defensive end. Both teams can score in bunches.
- Faceoff-X: These games are traditionally close and this one will come down to who has the ball. The faceoff men for both squads will be the X-Factors to their teams’ success. Mercyhurst is facing off at 71% behind the exceptional play of Shawn Doran who is also an offensive threat as he’s put up 20 points and 170 groundballs this season. Conversely, Le Moyne will rely on Nico Mattia whose facing off at just under 60%. This will be an epic battle as both men have over 100 groundballs.
Limestone vs. Lenoir Rhyne – Sunday, May 21st @1:00pm
The SAC will rise again! Two conference foes meet for a third time with the chance to head to the NCAA Division 2 National Championship on the line. The teams have split the first two matchups with Lenoir-Rhyne taking the regular season match-up meeting in a dramatic overtime win, while Limestone won the SAC Tournament Championship with a 14-8 win over the Bears. Lenoir-Rhyne knocked off top-seeded Rollins in convincing fashion with a 14-8 win down in Florida. The Bears are led by Evan Voss who broke the program record for most assists in an NCAA Tournament game with five and tied a record for most points in a tournament game with seven. Lenoir-Rhyne advances to its third Division 2 Lacrosse National Semifinal game in program history. On the flip side, Limestone came away with an 11-10 come-from-behind win over No.3 UIndy in the quarterfinals. The Saints had the lead in the third quarter then gave up three goals to go down 10-9, but rallied in the fourth to take the exciting win. The key stat of that game was turnovers as Limestone had 30 to UIndy’s 19. The Saints are a handful on offense and that’s been in their DNA for the last twenty-plus years. This year is no different as Zachary Terry’s 84 goals pace them. Limestone has eight guys who can absolutely sling it on offense and they are also set in place by the balance of Michael McGarry who can beat you as both a dodger and feeder. The Saints play hard and have always prided themselves on being exceptional on groundballs and this year they are averaging 46 groundballs a game and also clear at close to 90 percent. The Bears are also a very similar team in terms of their ability to look to multiple weapons on offense. They are led on the attack end of Toron Eccleston and Myles Moffat. Both have proven they can dodge or feed so that will force the Saints to be on high alert on the defensive end.
Things to Watch
- The Disciplined Team Wins: The Bears are averaging 14.82 Turnovers a game. The Saints are averaging 20.48. In games like this, every possession counts so it can be feast or famine for both teams
- Goalie Play: Lenoir-Rhyne’s Rob Pensabene has had a phenomenal year, saving almost 62%of the shots he sees. For Lenoir-Rhyne to move on, Pensabene must be his usual consistent self. Limestone will look to Cory Lyons to have them get back to Championship Weekend. He’s at 51% on the year and already has one win against Lenoir-Rhyne under his belt this season.
- Win the Middle of the Field: Limestone swarms any groundball. That allows them to make up for any discrepancy in turnovers. If Lenoir-Rhyne can control the middle of the field, then that will make things interesting in this one.