Le Moyne Fends Off Mercyhurst to Win Fourth National Title
PHILADELPHIA — Le Moyne College had to survive a major scare to escape with its fourth NCAA Division II men's lacrosse championship on Sunday. But the Dolphins, behind senior goalie Jeff White and senior attackmen Nate Frechette and Tyler Prevost, and with the assistance of some late, friendly bounces, got it done with an 11-10 victory over late-charging Mercyhurst.
Frechette led Le Moyne (18-2) with three goals and an assist. Prevost finished with a goal and two assists. White won the tournament's Most Outstanding Player award after making 13 saves, including 10 in the Mercyhurst-dominated fourth quarter.
The Dolphins, who last won a national title in 2007 by beating Mercyhurst, made it to the Division II final for the next three years, only to lose each time. On Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field, Le Moyne finished its 2013 journey on top because it controlled the Lakers for more than three quarters, while building an 11-5 lead with 12:15 left in the contest.
|Le Moyne attackman Nate Frechette
led the Dolphins with three goals and assist in the Dolphins' 11-10
win over Mercyhurst on Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field in
© Greg Wall
But Mercyhurst, which was trying to complete an undefeated season, suddenly turned the game and nearly stole the crown by scoring the game's final five goals. The Lakers, sparked by the faceoff man Mitch McAvoy — who won all seven of his draws down the stretch in the fourth — cut the lead to 11-10 with 2:49 left, after Jake McAndrew powered his way inside to score his second goal.
From there, the ending was painful for Mercyhurst (18-1). In the last 1:40, McAndrew and attackman Brian Scheetz took hard shots that caromed off of the goalpost. Twice more in the last 30 seconds, Mercyhurst shooters missed the cage. The Lakers out-shot Le Moyne in the final quarter, 17-6. But it wasn't enough.
"Thank God the game wasn't 60 minutes and 10 seconds long," Le Moyne coach Dan Sheehan said. "Mercyhurst did nothing we were not expecting. It's been a game of runs for us all season long. We've kind of built the program on our defense. Today was about getting on Brian Scheetz' hands and having Jeff White in the goal."
White, the reigning Division II Goalie of the Year, kept the Lakers at bay for the most part. Scheetz, who entered the game with 26 goals and a team-high 46 assists, found little room to operate, mainly due to the sticky defense of senior Alex Cameron-Carter. Scheetz finished with one goal on six shots.
"We didn't care about just getting to the national championship game anymore. You come here to win it," said White, who hadn't been there since 2010 and went out in last year's quarterfinal round.
The Dolphins were on the verge of making the Lakers an easy out. Le Moyne's offense capitalized on penalties and continuously probed Mercyhurst's interior defense with success, especially with Fredette and Prevost. After Le Moyne fell behind early, 2-1, Fredette converted an extra-man goal to tie the score.
That started a 4-0 run that was capped by Prevost's point-blank, extra-man score off an assist by Frechette. With 6:13 left in the first half, Le Moyne held a 5-2 advantage. But a blown clear by the Dolphins led to a fast-break goal by McAndrew, and after McAvoy scored after winning his draw, the Lakers would close with a 3-0 run that tied the game at 5-5 at halftime.
The third quarter was all Le Moyne. Five different players scored on just 11 shots to push the Dolphins to a 10-5 lead at quarter's end. Three minutes into the fourth, midfielder Andrew Chadderdon (two goals) sprinted uncovered into the crease area and made it 11-5.
But midfielder Brady Haseltine (2, 1), with an assist from McAndrew, stopped Le Moyne's 6-0 run with 11:21 left, and suddenly, the Lakers were off and running. Le Moyne definitely missed their top faceoff man. Junior Kam Bumpus missed the final after suffering a hand injury in the Dolphins' 16-13 win over Adelphi in last week's semifinal.
Scheetz, Haseltine, Brooks and McAndrew scored in succession over the next nine minutes, which also included a struck pipe by midfielder Zac Reid with 5:15 to go.
"We had shots all over the pipes," said midfielder James Chayda, who led Mercyhurst with two goals and two assists. "I didn't there was any panic. We knew we had to chip away one goal at a time. It came down to a game of inches."
"We've been here before. It's the script we followed all year long," said Mercyhurst coach Chris Ryan, referring to the Lakers' five, one-goal victories in 2013. "It's tough to digest, because you know we were carrying momentum. But once you get past the sting of it, there's nothing to hang our head about."