May 18, 2014

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Limestone Tops Tampa to Punch Finals Ticket

from Press Release

GAFFNEY, S.C. - A rematch of one of the tightest regular season games of the season for the Saints yielded the same result as No. 2 Limestone (18-1, 4-0 CC) pounded out a 14-10 decision over No. 3 Tampa to punch their ticket to the eighth NCAA Division II National Championship Game in program history.

The win also breaks the program single season record for wins, surpassing the 2012 team that went 17-2 and reached the national championship. They will take on No. 7 LIU Post next Sunday in Baltimore, Md.

Sophomore attack Kyle Rhatigan (Holbrook, N.Y.) was cool as the other side of the pillow for the Saints as he assisted on three goals and scored three of his own while sophomore midfielder Mike Messenger (Surrey, British Columbia, Canada) scored four and assisted on another. Freshman midfielder Colton Watkinson(Burlington, Ontario, Canada) notched a pair of scores and senior midfielder Jamar Peete (Baltimore, Md.) and senior attack Todd Nakasuji (Ajax, Ontario, Canada) each had a goal and an assist.

Helping to fuel that offense, as usual, was freshman midfielderKevin Reisman (West Babylon, N.Y.) - one of the best faceoff men in the game. After experiencing a slow start that saw several violations, he dominated the center "X" with an overall 17-of-26 performance that included 11 groundballs. He is now averaging an incredible 10 groundballs per game and is winning exactly 70-percent of his faceoffs.

Senior defender Anthony Starnino (Rochester, N.Y.), who had a tremendous first outing against the Spartans, produced another stellar game this time around with five caused turnovers, eight groundballs, a nifty goal and an assist. Play in front of him like that made it easier for sophomore goal keeper Patrick Sheridan(Fairport, N.Y.) to be rock solid in goal. He played all 60 minutes and allowed 10 goals while making six saves to move to 18-1 on the season.

The Spartans got on the board early as Matt Bilak registered an unassisted score just four minutes into the game but Limestone would remain poised before exploding for four straight goals to make it 4-1 by the 2:41 mark of the first period. During that stretch, each of those goals came from different goal scorers.

Having taken it on the chin, Tampa responded with five of the next six goals, including the first with two seconds left in the first period, to flip the script and take a 6-5 lead with 1:54 left in the half. They wouldn't keep it long, however, as Nakasuji took a pass from Rhatigan and buried it in the back of the net to tie it at 6-6 with 1:08 left. The teams would then take that deadlock to the break.

That would change, not only dramatically but quickly, as the Saints erupted for three straight goals in the first 3:15 of the second half to push to a 9-6 advantage before UT recovered and answered with back-to-back scores, cutting it to 9-8 at the 8:06 mark of the third.

Consecutive goals by Rhatigan and Messenger would stretch to a three goal advantage at 11-8 but, once again, Tampa came right back as Bobby Calhoun scored one goal and assisted on another to slice the deficit to 11-10 with 8:09 left in the game. There would be no third rally as Rhatigan, Messenger and Peete slammed the door with three straight goals over the final 5:51 to close out the 14-10 victory and punch their ticket to the biggest stage in Division II lacrosse - for the eighth time.

Calhoun delivered three goals, three assists and a pair of groundballs to lead the way for Tampa while Bilak finished with two goals and an assist. Nick Ferreiro, who missed the earlier meeting this season, had a pair of scores but was dominated on faceoffs to the tune of 9-of-24 and had four groundballs. Jake Rooney and Kyle Hemrick had the only other scores on the day, each notching a solo score. Nate Tembi had five groundballs and Andrew Failla played all 60 minutes in the cage, allowing 14 goals and making seven saves to fall to 12-3 on the season.

Limestone will be making its eighth NCAA Division II National Championship Game appearance in the 25 year history of the program. All have come during the team's 15 straight tournament appearances, including six straight from 2000-05. They claimed titles in 2000 (over C.W. Post - now LIU Post 10-9 in College Park, Md.) and 2002 (over New York Tech 11-9 in Rutgers, N.J.).

The Saints will now take on No. 7 LIU Post (11-5, 6-2 ECC) in Baltimore, Md. at M&T Bank Stadium, home of the National Football League's Baltimore Ravens, on Sunday, May 25. Full coverage leading up to and through that event will be available on www.GoLimestoneSaints.com.

NOTES
This will be Limestone's eighth NCAA Division II Championship Game appearance during their run of 15 straight NCAA Tournament appearances ... they last reached the title game in 2012, falling 11-10 to Dowling in Foxborough, Mass.


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