PHILADELPHIA, PA. (Limestone SID) – The nationally top-ranked Limestone College men’s lacrosse team battled back with a third-quarter rally, but defending champion Merrimack College pulled away in the fourth to double up the Saints, 16-8, in the 2019 NCAA Division II National Championship Game on Sunday, May 26.
Score: No. 7 Merrimack 16, No. 1 Limestone 8
Records: No. 7 Merrimack (17-3), No. 1 Limestone (20-1)
Location: Lincoln Financial Field
INSIDE THE BOXSCORE
– Junior Tyler Papa (Manlius, N.Y.) led the Saints with five points on two goals and three assists
– Junior attack Larson Sundown (Basom, N.Y.) tallied three goals on the day
– Graduate attack Brian Huyghue (Halifax, Nova Scotia) added a pair of scores
– Senior attack Matt Bennett (Nedrow, N.Y.) finished with a goal and an assist
– Junior midfielder Clark Walter (Port Coquitlam, British Columbia) chipped in two assists
– Senior Jeremy Burns (Fort Mitchell, Ky.) also registered two dimes
– Senior keeper Danny Forren (Trumbull, Conn.) matched a season high with 16 saves
– Junior Dakota Kirsch-Downs (Odenton, Md.) went 7-of-17 at the “X” with four groundballs
HOW IT HAPPENED
After both teams exchanged an offensive possession to start the game, Merrimack jumped out to an early 1-0 lead with 12:42 left in the first. The Warriors extended the margin to 2-0 a few ticks later, but Limestone got on the board at the 8:27-mark when Huyghue finished off an assist from Papa in transition.
The Saints had some great looks at the cage in the opening quarter, putting up six shots on frame over the first 12 minutes of action, but three of those shots were saved while two more bounced hard off iron. The Warriors used that to help build up a 3-1 cushion with the first quarter of the title game in the books.
The Blue and Gold tied things up with two quick scores early in the second as Sundown bounced his 68th goal of the year past the keeper before Papa found the range for the equalizer. Walter assisted on both tallies, but Merrimack countered with three straight goals to retake the lead, 6-3, with 6:13 remaining.
The Warriors continued their run, adding three more scores before the break to take a commanding 9-3 halftime advantage. The Limestone offense posted 20 shots, including 10 on frame, over the first 30 minutes of play, but would record just three goals for its lowest first half scoring output of the season.
Merrimack made it seven consecutive goals less than a minute into the second half, extending the margin to 10-3, before Limestone snapped a 15:28-scoring drought when Sundown got behind the defense to score off a feed from Papa. That goal would spark a 4-0 spurt over next seven minutes for the Saints.
Huyghue deposited his second goal of the afternoon to cut the lead in half, 10-5, before Papa sent a low liner into the net from the left wing. Bennett then scored on an extra-man opportunity off an assist from Papa with five minutes left in the third as the Blue and Gold climbed to within 10-7 at the end of the third.
The Warriors snapped the Limestone run with back-to-back scores over the first three minutes of the fourth, making it a five-goal game, but Sundown kept the Saints within striking distance with his 70th goal of the year. That would be the closest things would get, however, as Merrimack closed out the national championship bout with four consecutive goals over the final 10 minutes to secure the 16-8 win.
After bring limited to just one goal in the first quarter, Limestone tied things up at 3-all with two quick scores in the second. However, Merrimack used a 7-0 run that stretched the remainder of the first half into the third quarter, and the Saints were never able to fully recover from the large halftime deficit.
– Sundown became the second player in program history to score 70 goals in a year
– Forren finishes his senior season with 216 saves – the second highest mark in team history
– The Blue and Gold was limited to a season-low eight goals
– The team had scored 10 or more times in all 20 games this year leading into the title game
– Limestone rebounded from an eight-loss campaign in 2018 to reach the title game one year later
– Merrimack, who will transition to Division I next season, improves 3-5 all-time against the Saints