The Mercyhurst lacrosse team’s top midfield trio of Deven Alves, James Chayka and Zac Reid rebounded from a tough outing at the perfect time.
They combined for 12 goals and one assist, including the game’s final three goals, in the top-ranked Lakers 18-17 overtime win against No. 2 Limestone in a NCAA Division II semifinal Saturday at Tullio Field. This after they were held scoreless by Lake Erie in last weekend’s national quarterfinals.
“We didn’t have our best game last weekend,” said Reid, who had a career-high seven goals – one shy of the school record of eight set by Bryon Lindner against Molloy on April 22, 2008, and the most since Cameron McLean scored seven against Dominican (N.Y.) on April 4, 2009. “We benefited from having an off week and being fortunate enough to can our shots when we had the chance.”
Reid scored his seven goals on 14 of the Lakers’ 49 shots. Mercyhurst outshot the Saints by four despite being dominated on faceoffs – Limestone won 28-of-39 overall – and losing the groundball battle 45-33. The Saints’ 16 turnovers, which were nine more than the Lakers, helped Mercyhurst’s offense.
“You find a way to adapt and overcome at that point,” Lakers coach Chris Ryan said.
* Speaking of faceoffs: Ryan used four players – faceoff specialist Mitch McAvoy, midfielder Kyle Lindsay and defensemen Patrick Maloney and Ryan Sullivan – against Limestone’s Jake Ternosky. Yet Ternosky, the nation’s sixth best at faceoffs entering the game (.650 winning percentage), still dominated that category as the Saints’ lone faceoff man. “The Ternosky kid is just exceptional at what he does,” Ryan said. “We have a pretty good faceoff guy (in McAvoy, who was 10th in the nation at .597). But Jake Ternosky is the best in Division II, and he proved it today. You just have to find another way to beat a team, and we found a way to keep ourselves in the game and get the ball back at times.”
Ternosky said “I just felt like I was in a groove. When it all came down to it, it was the offense. These guys were producing and making my job a lot easier (and) just giving us momentum to do whatever we wanted.”
* Complete faith: Mercyhurst trailed 17-15 as the final minute of regulation began. Yet Ryan believed his team could complete the comeback.
“Everyone chips in. Everyone buys in. Everyone has a good idea of what has to be done on a daily basis,” he said. “To tell you the truth, hat comes from the seniors. They’ve been there and they’ve seen both ends of it, winning and losing. They know how to get it done. As far as I’m concerned, as a coach you can put a lot of trust in these kids. They just know how to get stuff done. They know their way around the block.”
* Taking blame: Limestone coach J.B. Clarke praised his team for “the battle these guys fought today.” Then he blamed himself for the loss.
“Coach Ryan did a great job getting his team ready to play. I think my team came ready to play,” Clarke said. “I don’t think I did a very good job of having them in the right spots at the right time.” Clarke also gave Ryan and the Lakers “because they played our way and beat us.”
* Erasing bad memories: Reid said thoughts of a 7-6 overtime loss to Dowling in the 2012 national semifinals at Tullio Field crept into his mind late in Saturday’s game. “I’d be lying if I said I didn’t,” he said. “I felt terrible last year after the Dowling game. I didn’t want to feel that way again.”
* News and notes: Ryan and Clarke apparently had a heated verbal exchange after the game. When asked what happened, Ryan said, “I said good game.” … Riley scored three goals – his 52nd, 53rd and 54th of the season – for Limestone to finish his four-year career with 154 goals. … Mercyhurst has lost all four all-time meetings with Le Moyne, their national title-game opponent, including a last-second 6-5 loss in the 2007 championship game. … The Lakers can become the first team to win more than 18 games in a national championship season with a win next weekend.
- Victor Fernandes