Mercy, Tampa Headed to NCAA D-II Men's Championship for First Time

FILE PHOTO BY KEVIN P TUCKER

Mercy beat LeMoyne 12-11 in double overtime to reach its first NCAA Division II championship game.


Mercy and Tampa will both play in the NCAA Division II men’s lacrosse title game for the first time in program history. How they got there was very different.

Mercy beat defending national champion LeMoyne 12-11 in double overtime in a game where neither team led by more than one goal while Tampa steamrolled Limestone 19-8.

What was similar about the wins was that Mercy and Tampa beat Division II royalty to get to the final game. LeMoyne and Limestone have combined for 11 national championships, including six of the eight contested since 2013.

By comparison, Mercy is a tournament newbie. The Mavericks qualified for the tournament for the first time in 2019, reaching the quarterfinals. Last year, Mercy made the tournament but didn’t get to play due to a COVID outbreak. They made up for it this season, with Sunday’s win improving its record to 16-1 while avenging its only loss of the season — an 8-7 setback to LeMoyne on March 5.

Mercy went scoreless in the second half of that loss and the second half on Sunday got off to another slow start. The Mavericks led 5-4 at the break, but LeMoyne scored the first two goals of the third quarter to take a 6-5 lead. An extra-man goal by Mercy’s Brody Caskenette tied things back up and erased any doubts of a repeat shutout.

From there, the two teams did what they did all day, trade blows back and forth. The game featured 11 ties and eight lead changes, and it felt whoever had the ball last would win. That’s what happened.

LeMoyne took its final lead at 11-10 on a Carter Collins goal with 7:19 remaining and had a chance for a key insurance goal, but Mercy’s Tommy Umano raced back into the goal and made a key save as the Mavericks were doubling the ball with just under a minute to play.

Mercy took advantage of the extra possession with Jack Gibbons scoring with 16 seconds remaining to send the game to overtime.

In the first overtime, Mercy controlled possession for nearly the first three minutes, but got only one shot on goal, which was saved by LeMoyne’s Frank Delia. LeMoyne had a few chances to win it, but Umano came up with two saves in the final minute and another shot hit the post.  

In the second overtime, Mercy’s PJ’s Argiros won the faceoff clean and after the Mavericks set up possession, Andrew Calabria hit Dominic Scorcia on the left doorstep and Scorcia scored the winning goal to send Mercy to the NCAA championship game.

Scorcia and Matt Eccles each scored three goals for Mercy and Brady Kearnan had a team-high five points on two goals and three assists. Argiros won 14 of 24 faceoffs in the game and Umano made 16 saves.

Colin Sypek and Zach Pierce each had two goals and two assists to lead the LeMoyne offense and Delia made 12 saves. The Dolphins finished the season 16-4.







Tampa Gets Over Semifinal Hump

Tampa is no stranger to the NCAA tournament, including semifinal trips in 2014, 2015 and 2017 — all of them resulting in losses to Limestone. The biggest difference between those three previous games? J.B. Clarke, the head coach for Limestone in the three semifinal games, is now in his first year as the head coach at Tampa.

The Spartans improved to 20-0 in Clarke’s first year leading the Tampa program with the 19-8 win over his former school.

Tampa scored the first six goals of the game, led 11-1 at the half and cruised to the victory.

Cole Williard had four goals and an assist, including three goals in the second quarter, to lead the Tampa offense. Harry Kilkowski and Nick Papa each added three goals for the Spartans and Blake Ulmer made 14 saves while allowing just seven goals. Mike Carpenter, Gavin Kesselring and Mike McGarry each scored twice for Limestone.

Mercy and Tampa will play in the championship game next Sunday at 4 p.m. at Pratt & Whitney Stadium at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, Conn.

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