FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Appearing in the program's first-ever national championship after going on the road for victories in the NCAA Quarterfinals and Semifinals over the last two weeks, the fourth-ranked Merrimack College men's lacrosse team suffered an 11-9 defeat to top-ranked Limestone College from Gillette Stadium in the 2017 NCAA Division II Men's Lacrosse Championship. The Warriors conclude their historic 2017 season as the national runner-up while tying a program record with 15 victories.
Score: #1 Limestone 11, #4 Merrimack 9
Records: #4 Merrimack (15-4, 9-2 NE10) | #1 Limestone (21-1, 7-0 CC)
Location: Gillette Stadium | Foxborough, Mass.
2017 NCAA Tournament Men's Lacrosse Championship Schedule
Saturday, May 13th - Quarterfinals
North Region Semifinal #1: #3 Merrimack at #2 Le Moyne (12 p.m.)
North Region Semifinal #2: #1 Adelphi def. #4 Pace, 10-9
South Region Semifinal #1: #1 Limestone def. #4 Wingate 14-5
South Region Semifinal #2: #3 Tampa def. #2 Lenoir-Rhyne, 11-8
Saturday/Sunday, May 20-21 - Semifinals
North Region Final: #3 Merrimack def. #1 Adelphi, 17-9
South Region Final: #3 Tampa at #1 Limestone (Sunday, 12 p.m.)
Sunday, May 28 - Championship
NCAA Final: #1 Limestone def. #3 Merrimack, 11-9
- Limestone struck first, capitalizing on an open net opportunity with the defense riding high in an attempt to force a turnover, but that lead lasted less than a minute before rookie Charlie Bertrand (Baldwinsville, N.Y.) evened the game with his 52nd marker of the year at 12:31. The next eight minutes were gritty and dictated by physical play and saw seven combined turnovers before the Saints went back on top at the 4:25 mark.
- The Warriors would head into the first break with a lead, though, thank to back-to-back tallies from senior captains Max Allen (West Caldwell, N.J.) and Tim Towler (Topsfield, Mass.) at 4:13 and 1:30, respectively, while the defense held off Limestone late in the frame to give Merrimack a 3-2 edge after 15 minutes.
- Merrimack nearly had a two-score lead early in the second, but a would-be goal was waved off early in the proceedings. Still, the Warriors would eventually get that multi-goal lead with 11 minutes remaining and then stretched it to three goals (5-2) with just under five minutes left in the half. Limestone would, however, cut the deficit to two with the last two tallies of the second quarter to make it a one-goal game (5-4) at the midpoint.
- The Warriors restored their two-goal lead less than two minutes into the third quarter, but that was the largest their lead would grow. Less than a minute after that tally, Limestone strung together three goals in a 17-second span to take a lead they would never relinquish. The Saints would add two more markers to push their lead to a game-high three goals (9-6), outscoring Merrimack by a 5-1 margin in the third stanza.
- Behind man-up strikes from sophomore Seamus Ford (Walpole, Mass.) and junior Kyle Stenberg (Annandale, N.J.), Merrimack started the final frame on a 2-0 run to pull within one, 9-8, with 11:40 to play. That, however, was the closest the Warriors would get, as the Saints kept Merrimack off the board more than an eight-minute span while adding two more tallies to their to build their lead back to three.
- Towler scored the final goal of the season with 3:33 to play, but Merrimack was kept in check the rest of the way.
Highlights and Notables
- In its fourth NCAA Tournament in program history, Merrimack made its first-ever appearance in the national championship game on Sunday, playing in front of a pro-Merrimack crowd just 53 miles from campus.
- The last varsity program from Merrimack to advance to a national championship game was the field hockey team in 2015 (L, 1-0 to East Stroudsburg/OT).
- Merrimack tied its single-season wins record with its 15th victory of the season, marking the second straight year in which it hit that threshold.
- Junior close defender James Bassett (Getzville, N.Y.) set a single-game high with six caused turnovers, which led all players. He previous career high was three, set against Pace during the regular season.
- Merrimack held Limestone to a season-low four first-half goals, becoming the first school this season hold a halftime advantage over the Saints.
Team Leaders (MC // LC)
- Points: Stenberg (3) // Ryan Maciejewski (4)
- Goals: Ford/Stenberg/Towler (2) // Maciejewski (3)
- Assists: Four tied (1) // Six tied (1)
- Faceoffs: Blake Boudreau (7-of-20) // Kevin Reisman (17-of-24)
- Ground Balls: Eric Coburn (5) // Reisman (14)
- Caused Turnovers: James Bassett (6) // Jordan Stouros (2)
- Saves: Hellier (6) // Cole Aikens (13)
Team Comparisons (MC // LC)
- EMO: 3-4 // 0-4
- Shot Attempts/SOG: 40/22 // 36/17
- Ground Balls: 29 // 41
- Clears: 16-21 // 15-17
- Turnovers: 15 // 14