Dowling Holds off Limestone to Capture Div. II Championship

Foxborough, Mass. Appearing in their seventh NCAA Division II Men's Lacrosse National Championship Game, No. 3 Limestone (17-2, 5-0 CC) recovered from an early 4-0 deficit to take the lead but could not withstand a fourth quarter charge by No. 4 Dowling (12-2, 9-1 ECC) as they dropped a narrow 11-10 decision at Gillette Stadium on Sunday, May 27.

Trailing 7-6 entering the fourth quarter, the Golden Lions delivered four consecutive goals over the first 8:05 to take a commanding 10-7 lead in a game that was mostly nip-and-tuck. Junior attack Riley Loewen (Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada) broke up that run with a score at 6:19 to close to within two but Dowling answered back less than a minute later with a goal by Vito DeMola, making it 11-8.

Limestone's defense stepped to the forefront as they locked in and prevented any further scores, allowing the offense to gain a foothold. Senior midfielder Jackson Decker (Port Moody, British Columbia, Canada) rifled the Saints ninth score of the game at 4:16 and sophomore defenseman Anthony Starnino (Rochester, N.Y.) brought them to within one on a goal that surprised Dowling keeper Ryan Dougherty at the 1:39 mark.

Junior faceoff specialist and Conference Carolinas Player of the Year Jake Ternosky (LaFayette, N.Y.) then won a huge faceoff to begin the ensuing possession, giving Limestone's offense a chance to tie it. Following a timeout by the Saints, senior attack Shayne Jackson (Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada) picked up a groundball and, in the course of 11 seconds, ripped a pair of shots that kept the Golden Lions defense guessing. After the second, Loewen grabbed the rebound and blistered a point blank attempt that was handled by Dougherty, giving Dowling the 11-10 victory and the 2012 NCAA Division II National Championship.

In the first half, after surrendering four straight goals through the 10:13 mark of the second quarter, the Saints battled their way back with three straight scores in that frame. Junior midfielder Corey Rich (Sacramento, Calif.) got Limestone on the board right in front of the net off a pass from Shayne Jackson at 8:29 to make it 4-1 before Decker struck with an unassisted goal at 5:54 to halve the deficit.

Junior midfielder Zach Cummings (Crownsville, Md.) then connected off a pass from Loewen to close to 4-3 with 1:44 left in the second. The teams would head to the break with that one goal margin.

At the start of the second half, Starnino erased the deficit with just his fourth score of the year, that coming unassisted at 12:49. The Golden Lions' Matthew Muzio answered back with a score of his own to retake the lead, 5-4 at 11:02, but the game quickly became a contest of can you top this.

Senior midfielder Randy Waugh (Severna Park, Md.) tied the game at 5-5 at the 7:37 mark and Shayne Jackson gave the Saints their first lead with an unassisted score at 6:46. With the score at 6-5, Dowling took advantage of a man-up opportunity to tie the game as Kevin McElhone converted off a pass from Vito DeMola at 3:29. Already with a combined five goals scored in the third, Rich added one more as he drilled the go-ahead goal at 2:03 to make it 7-6. The teams would enter the fourth with that score, setting the stage for a wild finish.

Decker, Starnino and Rich led Limestone with a pair of goals each while Loewen and Jackson each had a score and an assist. Randy Waugh and Zach Cummings each had solo goals to round out the Saints scoring and Loewen added four groundballs. Ternosky went 11 of 25 on faceoffs, collecting six groundballs and Starnino forced a pair of turnovers. In net, senior Steve Gartelman (Seaford, N.Y.) played all 60 minutes and allowed 11 goals while making eight saves to fall to 17-2 on the year.

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