Le Moyne Looks for Title Touch in Baltimore
by Matt DaSilva | Lacrosse Magazine Online Staff
Mike Rabbitt is one of five Le Moyne players with at least 15 goals going into Sunday's NCAA Division II championship game against C.W. Post.
© John Strohsacker/LaxPhotos.com
Le Moyne is no stranger to this stage.
But the Dolphins, making their fifth straight NCAA Division II men’s lacrosse championship game appearance, are probably happy to be back in Baltimore rather than Foxboro.
Their last memory at M&T Bank Stadium – Mike McDonald’s fateful, if fluky, goal with one second remaining in the 2007 final delivering a dramatic 6-5 victory over Mercyhurst – certainly bodes better than those they left at Gillette Stadium. The last two years there, Le Moyne stumbled over its own immutability, its slow-sliding, normally disciplined defense vexed by faster opponents.
In 2008, it was NYIT. In 2009, it was C.W. Post.
“In 2008 with New York Tech, they were the better team. No doubt about it. They had more speed than we could handle and they attacked us everywhere on the field,” Dolphins head coach Dan Sheehan said. “Last year, we had an awful first half, made a run late and ran into an extremely hot goalie [Dan Sciulla] that made several outstanding saves down the stretch.”
On Sunday, Le Moyne will seek retribution against those same Pioneers. There will be a different goalie between C.W. Post’s pipes -- Mike Giordano appears to have supplanted Hofstra transfer Danny Orlando as the Pioneers’ primary keeper -- but the team speed factor has not changed.
Still, don’t expect head coach Dan Sheehan to throw the kitchen sink onto the field.
“The way that we’re built up here, we’re not an overly aggressive group that’s going to chase you from the time you get off the bus,” Sheehan said. “But we like to think our kids are prepared. C.W. Post has got a ton of talent. We’re fairly confident they’re going to be attacking us from the midfield an awful lot.”
C.W. Post’s Joe Meo and Mike Messina, both second team All-Americans, have the ability to get Le Moyne’s defense spinning. Given the Dolphins’ reluctance to slide, Meo could be in for a big day if given time and room to shoot – or if the Pioneers go man-up. Fourteen of Meo’s 38 goals have come in extra-man offense.
C.W. Post head coach John Jez said the Pioneers will look to, no surprise, push the tempo of the game.
“Le Moyne has a great defense and has always had a great goalie. They hold their ground,” Jez said. “But if you can put some pressure on them and force them to slide, I wouldn’t say they’re weaker, but it’s not something they do often.”
Sheehan’s last two teams have been criticized for their untimely carelessness with the ball. A recent glimpse of the 2009 championship game video gave players a needed dose of perspective. “It was funny watching it, to look at all the expressions of guys in the room,” Sheehan said. “I wish I had an answer as to why some of those things happened.”
On paper, the Dolphins match up better with C.W. Post this time around. Matt Chadderdon (35g) and Jack Harmatuk (30g) are not gunshy. Plus, Corey Bulken (64 percent) might be the only faceoff guy in the country that can give Mike Cama (71 percent) a run at the “X.”
Le Moyne rebounded from its loss of the season, a 12-11 to Merrimack in the Northeast-10 championship game, to handle Limestone in the NCAA semifinals.
C.W. Post avenged its only loss of the season with a 9-8, NCAA semifinal victory over Dowling.
Both paths led back to Baltimore and a rematch for the national championship.
Which is better than Foxboro, if you ask the Dolphins.
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