PHILADELPHIA, PA. – Playing for a third straight national championship, the top-ranked Limestone College (21-1) men’s lacrosse team built up a halftime lead but was shutout over the final 30 minutes of the NCAA Division II National Championship Game, falling to second-ranked Le Moyne College (20-0) by a final of 8-4 on Sunday, May 29 at Lincoln Financial Field.
The Saints, who were making their 10th appearance in the title game, were limited to just four goals on 18 shots – both of which were season lows. It marked the first time since the 2009 season – ironically also against Le Moyne – that Limestone had been limited to less than five goals in a game.
Senior attack Jordan Saunderson (Oshawa, Ontario) led the Saints with a pair of goals while senior midfielder Mike Messenger (Surry, British Columbia) added a goal and an assist in his final game in the Blue and Gold. Sophomore midfielder Ben Higgins (Hampstead, Md.) chipped in a goal.
After missing the semifinal game against Tampa, senior keeper Patrick Sheridan (Fairport, N.Y.) finished with a season-high 14 saves in the cage for the Saints. He graduates as the program’s all-time career leader in wins and ranks second all-time in saves and goals against average.
Le Moyne finished with a 35-18 advantage in shots and a significant 30-13 margin in groundball pickups. Limestone went just 6-of-14 in the faceoff circle while not recording one faceoff win in the second half of the title game. The Saints were called for nine penalties and turned the ball over 17 times.
Looking to avenge a 9-6 setback against the Saints in the 2015 National Championship Game, Le Moyne quickly grabbed a two-goal advantage in the first quarter. Limestone was quick to respond, however, as back-to-back scores by Saunderson evened things up at 2-all with 4:14 left in the opening period.
The Blue and Gold grabbed its first lead of the day at the 8:24-mark of the second quarter when Higgins fired a laser past the keeper from the right wing – his 23rd goal of the season. The Dolphins would then end a scoring drought of 19:43 when Matt Taylor bounced the equalizer into the net with 5:02 remaining.
Messenger, the 2016 USILA/Nike Raymond J. Enners Award winner, put the Saints back on top a few ticks later, losing his defender with a nice spin move before splitting the frame for his 60th goal of the year. Limestone would carry the same 4-3 lead into the halftime break.
Le Moyne once again pulled even early in the second half as Mike Jenkins delivered a man-up goal with 9:13 left in the third. The Dolphins kept up the offensive pressure, but a pair of tremendous saves by Sheridan late in the period would send the contest into the final quarter tied at 4-all.
The Dolphins recaptured the lead at the 12:03-mark in the fourth and then pulled ahead, 6-4, just 50 seconds later on the second goal of the day by Jenkins. Le Moyne would add two more scores late in the game while holding Limestone to just three shot attempts over the final 15 minutes to secure the 8-4 win.
Junior midfielder Anthony Quiles (Greer, S.C.) added an assist and two caused turnovers for the Saints while senior defender PJ White (Huntington, N.Y.), junior midfielder Colton Watkinson (Burlington, Ontario) and junior midfielder Brendan V. Smith (Levittown, N.Y.) all collected two groundballs.
Taylor and Logan Thomas both recorded two goals and an assist for Le Moyne while Jenkins posted two goals. Keeper Alex Krawec finished with seven saves for the win.
Sunday’s game was the final contest for a phenomenal group of seniors that were instrumental in bringing Limestone lacrosse back to prominence with two national championships: Mike Messenger, Vinny Ricci (Port Moody, British Columbia), Kyle Rhatigan (Holbrook, N.Y.), Chris Watson (Smithtown, N.Y.), Patrick Allen (Cary, N.C.), Scott Sindall (Silver Spring, Md.), Jordan Saunderson, Patrick Sheridan, and PJ White.