Going into the Division II title game, the story was offense versus defense. Limestone had the nation’s top offense with 17.54 average goals per game while Lemoyne only allowed 6.56 on average. To be fair, both teams were in the top five in both categories, so this was going to be a great game.
Despite the high offensive numbers going into the game, Limestone coach J.B. Clarke said knowing LeMoyne, this was not going to be a high scoring game. He knew their abilities on defense and that they were not going to make scoring easy. At the end of the first half, this was painfully true as the teams sat at a 3-3 tie.
Lemoyne is the team that got things going by scoring the first three goals. Matt Taylor scored just a few minutes into the game off an assist from Joe Corapi. Two minutes later, Kevin Kelly scored on the crease off a diagonal skip pass from Mike Jenkins. Just one minute later, with about nine minutes left in the first quarter, Kelly would score again to make it 3-0. Unfortunately for the Dolphins, that would be their last goal of the half.
Limestone rode a strong faceoff performance all day long to score twice in the first quarter, and they would get the lone goal of the second quarter. Two of those first three goals were also on man-up as LeMoyne kept finding themselves in penalty trouble throughout the game. There was a lot of back and forth in the second quarter, but both defenses really did a great job limiting scoring opportunities.
Coming out at half, LeMoyne scored a quick goal only two minutes into the third quarter and would bookmark the quarter with another goal just under the two minutes mark. They would also record one more about seven minutes into the quarter. In between those goals, Limestone’s Ben Higgins would take a short stick defender to the goal on a great individual, physical effort. Vinny Ricci would also score with about four minutes left after a bit of a broken play. The third would end with Lemoyne up by one, 6-5.
From this point on, the game would belong to Mike Messenger and Limestone. Eight seconds into the fourth, Messenger took a feed from Reid Reinholdt off the faceoff to put them up 6-6. One minute later, Messenger would score on an outside sidearm shot cutting through to the center of the field. 7-6. Three minutes later, Messenger would feed Colton Watkinson for a shot from the wing to go up 8-6. The final goal would come with just under three minutes left in the game Messenger again would go iso from the wing right after the stall warning went up to lock the game away at 9-6. LeMoyne starting playing some aggressive defense which put them man-down at the end, greatly reducing their chances of engineering a comeback.
After the game, LeMoyne coach Dan Sheehan would emphasize how proud he was of this team. “probably just, not to compare other teams, but this is up there, if not the highest, it’s the best locker room that I’ve had in 18 years.” He later added “Yeah, it’s a really good group. I thought with the talent that we had, I thought this group achieved quite a bit. And then obviously once you get here, one team is going to be doing that, the other’s not.”
For Limestone, this would be their second consecutive title. While they only scored about half of their average goals, it was more than enough. The rest of Division II needs to be on notice. This team returns a large part of their talent who already has two titles under their belts. Their dominant face-off guy, Kevin Reisman, is only a Sophomore. Messenger is a Junior. Every goalie on their roster is a freshman. Chances are you will be hearing about this team plenty more in the coming years.