No. 3 Limestone Pulls Away to Defeat No. 9 Pfeiffer

GAFFNEY, S.C. - Playing in a steady rain the entire game, an 11-goal second half blew open a two goal game at the half as No. 3 Limestone (13-1, 4-0 CC) pounded No. 9 Pfeiffer (9-4, 2-2 CC) 16-6 to claim their eighth straight Conference Carolinas regular season championship on Saturday, April 19. It is their seventh outright title and fifth consecutive.

Senior attack Todd Nakasuji (Ajax, Ontario, Canada) and sophomore midfielder Mike Messenger (Surrey, British Columbia, Canada) manned the offense as each produced four goals, two assists and a pair of groundballs while sophomore attack Kyle Rhatigan (Holbrook, N.Y.) finished with two goals and three assists along with three groundballs.

Sophomore attack Vinny Ricci (Port Moody, British Columbia, Canada) drilled three goals and had two groundballs and senior midfielder Jamar Peete (Baltimore, Md.) and freshman midfielder Colton Watkinson (Burlington, Ontario, Canada) each had a goal and two assists.

Freshman midfielder Kevin Reisman (West Babylon, N.Y.) was once again dominant at the center "X", going 14 of 23 and picking up 10 groundballs. Sophomore goal keeper Patrick Sheridan (Fairport, N.Y.) played 57:44 and allowed six goals while making six saves to get the win and improve to 13-1 on the season.

Messenger got the Saints on the board early on as he drove home an unassisted score a minute into the game before Pfeiffer answered back to tie it the 7:42 mark. It wouldn't stay that way very long as Ricci connected on a pass from Peete 12 seconds later and Messenger followed with another at the beginning of the second quarter (13:47) for a 3-1 lead.

The Falcons would fight back following that goal as Spencer Allen, who assisted on the first score, found Robert Hope at the 13:28 mark before Rhatigan connected with Nakasuji at 4:30 to neutralize that score and leave it at 4-2. Allen would strike again with 2:24 left in the half as he setup Derek Thomas' goal to draw to within 4-3.

Less than a minute later, Rhatigan would take advantage of a pass from Watkinson right in front of the crease and, while facing away from the keeper, proceed to rifle the ball past his right ankle to give the Saints a 5-3 advantage. That would be the margin they would take to the half as Pfeiffer was just a second too late on what would have been a goal at the end of the first 30 minutes.

The teams traded goals to start the second half as Ricci connected for the Saints while Allen took it himself for to make it 6-4 with 6:11 left in the period. At that point the Falcons would get their wings clipped as Limestone fired off eight straight goals to expand their lead to an insurmountable 14-4 with 8:41 to play. During that stretch, Messenger and Nakasuji each delivered a pair of goals and an assist.

From there, the result would not be in doubt, despite back-to-back scores by Pfeiffer, as the Saints polished off the 16-6 victory for their eighth consecutive Conference Carolinas Regular Season Championship. With that win, the road to the tournament championship will go through Gaffney, S.C.

Spencer Allen led Pfeiffer with a goal and three assists while Derek Thomas had three goals. Robert Hope added a goal and an assist along with six groundballs and Matthew Michaeli had the only other score. Khalid Stukes picked up five groundballs but won just 9 of 22 faceoffs. Mike Triolo added five groundballs and Hayden Kirk played all 60 minutes in goal, allowing 16 goals and making 10 saves to suffer the loss.

Limestone now advances to the 2014 Conference Carolinas Tournament as the No. 1 overall seed. As such they will host No. 4 Belmont Abbey (6-9, 1-3 CC) in the semifinals on Wednesday, April 23 at 4:00 p.m. at Saints Field. Should they win that game they will host the championship game on Sunday, April 27.

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