SYRACUSE, N.Y. (LE MOYNE ATHLETICS) –
Jeremi Phoenix-Lefebvre scored his second straight postseason game-winner to give seventh-ranked and second-seeded Mercyhurst University an 11-10 victory over the top-ranked and top-seeded Le Moyne College men’s lacrosse team in the NCAA Championships semifinals on Sunday afternoon at Ted Grant Field.
The Dolphins close out the season with a 17-1 record after appearing in the NCAA semifinals for the 17th time in the last 21 full seasons.
Mercyhurst, which advances to the national championship game for the fourth time, opened the game’s scoring just 29 seconds into the game as Myles Hamm scored his 53rd goal of the season off a pass from Liam Bogedain in transition following a turnover by the Dolphins.
Le Moyne countered with the next three goals. Redshirt sophomore midfielder Ethan Loun (West Linn, Oregon/West Linn) evened the score at one apiece at the 13:04 mark with his 22nd goal of the season off a curl from behind the net. Just over 90 seconds later, junior attackman Joey Pezzimenti (Victor, N.Y./Victor/UAlbany) tallied his 43rd goal of the year after collecting a pass in transition from junior short-stick defensive midfielder Max Cramer (Manlius, N.Y./Fayetteville-Manlius). Following over nine minutes of scoreless action, Pezzimenti gave the Dolphins a 3-1 lead with 2:14 to go off a feed from Loun. With the goal, Pezzimenti passed Matt Hutchings ’21 from 2019 for the fourth-most points in a season by a Dolphin with his 70th and he passed Kevin Kelly ’15 from 2015 for the eighth-most goals in a season with his 44th.
Faceoff specialist Shawn Doran answered back just 13 seconds later with his 13th goal of the season to get the Lakers back within one.
Le Moyne regained its two-goal lead only 42 seconds later as graduate student attackman Kevin Sheehan (Camillus, N.Y./West Genesee) scored from the right edge of the crease off a feed across the crease from senior midfielder Joel Firth (Cicero, N.Y./Cicero-North Syracuse).
The Lakers, who won the national championship in 2011 over Adelphi and fell to Le Moyne in the title game in both 2007 and 2013, tallied three of the first four goals of the second quarter to tie the score at five. Quinn Simonson started the run at the 11:17 mark with his 14th goal of the season. Loun countered for the Dolphins two minutes later with his 23rd goal of the campaign. Just over one minute later, Ethan Landymore tallied his 50th goal of the season. Colin Schmatz followed 40 seconds later with his fourth goal of the year.
Pezzimenti put the Dolphins back in front 48 seconds later at the 6:40 mark with his 45th mark of the campaign. With the goal, he ties Justin Kesselring ’18 from 2018 and Jeff Sanford ’02 from 2002 for the sixth-most goals in a season.
Graduate student goalkeeper Matt Vavonese (Syracuse, N.Y./Christian Brothers Academy/Canisius) made four saves over the final six minutes of the half to contribute to four empty possessions by the Lakers, while the Dolphins had three empty possessions as they took a 6-5 lead into halftime.
Mercyhurst, which defeated the Dolphins, as well as played on the Le Moyne campus, for the first time in 11 all-time meetings, scored twice in the opening minute of the third quarter to take the lead back. Kevin Sprague netted his seventh goal of the season at the 14:14 mark and then long-stick midfielder Stephen Morley scored his fifth of the year 14 seconds later off a pass from Doran.
Sheehan knotted the score at seven at the 10:56 mark by collecting a rebound of a saved shot and flicking it into the net for his 24th tally of the year.
The teams combined for 13 empty possessions the remainder of the quarter as the teams went into the fourth tied at seven. Mercyhurst goalkeeper Brett Olney made five saves in the span to go with three Le Moyne turnovers, while Mercyhurst committed four turnovers, Vavonese made a save and Le Moyne backed up two errant shots by the Lakers.
Le Moyne took the lead back 1:14 into the fourth quarter as sophomore attackman Isaac Frechette (Manlius, N.Y./Fayetteville-Manlius) netted his 22nd goal of the season after collecting a pass from fifth year midfielder Sam Lambert (Victor, N.Y./Victor).
Simonson answered back 1:14 later to even the score at eight apiece.
The see-saw continued three minutes later as Sheehan finished off a pass from Lambert for his 25th tally of the season. With the goal, Sheehan passed Joe Corapi ’15 for the 11th-most goals in the program’s history with his 93rd.
Phoenix-Lefebvre tied the score for the sixth time in the contest with his 12th goal of the season with 7:43 to play.
Lambert put the Dolphins up for the final time with 5:33 remaining with his 13th goal of the season.
After the Lakers maintained possession on a loose-ball push following a near turnover, Nicholas Mabe evened the score at 10 with 4:35 left. He scored the game-tying goal in the quarterfinals against Saint Anselm last Sunday with 4:01 left.
Le Moyne won the ensuing faceoff, but committed a turnover before getting off a shot. Vavonese came up with a save on Mercyhurst’s next possession, but the Dolphins committed another turnover on their next possession.
The Lakers got the ball into their offensive end and called timeout with 2:41 remaining. Phoenix-Lefebvre followed 46 seconds later with his 13th goal of the campaign. He scored the game-winner last week with 2:06 remaining.
The Lakers won the next faceoff on a violation, for which the Dolphins were penalized. Landymore tried to double his team’s lead with 1:18 left, but Vavonese made the save and graduate student short-stick defensive midfielder John Galimi (Syracuse, N.Y./West Genesee) scooped up the loose ball and carried it into the Le Moyne end, where the Dolphins called timeout with 1:08 left.
The Dolphins got a shot off with 39 seconds left, but it was blocked and collected by a Mercyhurst defender. The Lakers failed on their clear attempt and the Dolphins regained possession with 18 seconds left.
Following a Le Moyne timeout with 10 seconds left and one by the Lakers before play resumed, the Dolphins attempted to get the ball in front of the crease, but a Mercyhurst defender was able to strip the ball and time ran out.
Vavonese closed out his career with 12 saves, his third straight double-digit save performance. Olney finished the contest with 13 saves to give him 29 in two career matchups with the Dolphins