Cortland Upsets #1 Salisbury in OT for Division III Title

PHILADELPHIA, PA. Junior Mike Felice (Baldwinsville/C.W. Baker) scored with 2.2 seconds remaining in overtime as Cortland claimed its second NCAA title and first-ever in Division III with a 13-12 victory over three-time defending champion Salisbury. Cortland finishes the season with an 18-3 record, setting a school single-season victory record.

The Red Dragons won a Division II national title in 1975, but had not played in the Division III championship game since losing to Hobart in the first two Division III finals in 1980 and 1981. Salisbury (20-1) had its 69-game winning streak the longest ever by a men's lacrosse team in any division - snapped with the loss. The Sea Gulls' last loss was to Lynchburg in April of 2003.

Cortland senior goalie Ben Gaebel (Deferiet/Carthage) made a career-high 18 saves, including five in the fourth quarter and two in overtime. Sophomore Ryan Heath (Baldwinsville/C.W. Baker) finished with four goals and one assist and Felice, the championship game's Most Outstanding Player, scored three times and assisted on two others. Junior Ryan Simensky (Locust Valley) recorded three goals and one assist, including the game-tying goal with 56.7 seconds left in regulation.

Luis Gonzalez (Crofton, MD/Arundel) led Salisbury with three goals. He had scored only four goals this season prior to the championship. Jimmy Creighton (Huntington) added two goals and two assists and Max Zarchin (Annapolis, MD/St. Mary's) made six saves.

The back-and-forth affair was tied on 11 occasions. Salisbury held the game's only two-goal lead at 6-4 with a three-goal run, two by Creighton, midway through the second quarter. Cortland responded with goals by senior Mike Abbott (Syracuse/Nottingham) and Heath to knot the game at 6-6 with 1:32 left in the second. A Dan Boyer (Millersville, MD/Mt. St. Joseph's) goal with 1:13 remaining gave the Sea Gulls a 7-6 halftime advantage.

Cortland won 12-of-14 faceoffs in the second half and overtime and won 20-of-29 on the afternoon. Red Dragon sophomore Josh Cittadino (Baldwin) finished the game with 13 faceoff wins in 17 attempts and a team-high nine ground balls. Abbott won 6-of-9 faceoff attempts. Cortland took a 10-9 lead with 4:33 left in the third on a Heath wrap-around shot, but Gonzalez and Ryan Rohde (Glenmoore, PA/Malvern Prep) answered with goals at the 2:21 and 1:34 marks, respectively, to give the Sea Gulls an 11-10 lead. Heath tied the game off a Kyle Simensky (Locust Valley) assist with 36.3 seconds left in the half.

Salisbury re-gained the lead on Eric Bishop's (Media, PA/Penncrest) goal with 7:44 left in regulation. Cortland missed on five shots to tie the game over the next four minutes and Salisbury cleared the ball with 3:27 remaining. With 1:46 left, Cortland substituted freshman goalie Michael Robinson (Alexandria, VA/Thomas Edison) for Gaebel in order to pressure the ball. Long-stick midfielder Cheney Raymond (Camillus/West Genesee) forced a turnover with 1:31 remaining and Cortland called timeout.

With just under a minute left, Ryan Simensky drove right about 10 yards in front of the goal and stumbled to the ground. As he was falling to the ground, he flicked the ball over his shoulder and the ball found its way past a surprised Zarchin into the net to tie the game. Cortland won the ensuing faceoff but turned the ball over. Salisbury had a final shot in regulation but Kylor Berkman's (Salisbury/Parkside) attempt was saved by Gaebel with 10 seconds left.

Cittadino won the faceoff to start overtime and three quick passes set up Abbott for a potenital game-winning shot, but the ball sailed over the cage. Salisbury gained possession and cleared the ball. Matt Dasinger (Reisterstown, MD/Franklin) had a shot at 2:23 go wide and another attempt with 1:29 left stopped by Gaebel. Boyer tried to scoop in the rebound of the second shot but was also stopped by Gaebel.

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