Limestone surprises C.W. Post

No. 5 Saints win, 10-9, for first Division II title

May 29, 2000|By Sam Borden | Sam Borden,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK - Although they were 450 miles from their campus, the players on the Limestone College lacrosse team felt right at home yesterday as they pulled off a 10-9 upset of No. 2 C.W. Post in the NCAA Division II championship game.

With 30 of their 47 active players from Maryland, the Saints fed off the support of the crowd of 2,019 at Maryland's Byrd Stadium to give the tiny school from Gaffney, S.C., its first national title.

Limestone's Rick Matthews (Oakland Mills) opened the scoring 32 seconds into the game with a rifle shot from the right wing, and by the 10:28 mark in the first quarter the Saints (14-2) held a 3-0 lead.

"The whole season, we've played well in the first quarter," said Nick Carlson, who tallied three goals and one assist to earn Most Outstanding Player honors.

The Pioneers rallied behind the unrelenting attack of leading scorer Benny Cottone (five goals) and drew even at 4-4 with 6:15 left in the second quarter. But missed opportunities, including a squandered two-minute man advantage in the third quarter, left C.W. Post (8-4) with its third championship-game loss in as many years.

A dart from Jon Riley (Glen Burnie) with 4:45 remaining in the second quarter put Limestone ahead for good.

"We missed some shots that were open, but you're going to have days like that," said a sullen Cottone.

This year's championship was the first where one team from the South and one from the North were selected, as opposed to pairing the best two teams in the country. Although there were some who felt this tainted No. 4 Limestone's selection, Saints coach Mike Cerino said his team's performance should silence the critics.

"Some people will call it regionalization, but our team knows what really happened here," Cerino said. "We felt like we were one of the better teams in the country this year and we've been a top-five team for the last three or four years. It was just a matter of time."

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