By Matt Noonan
NORTH ANDOVER, MA – Mike Morgan provided No. 5 Merrimack College with an interesting tidbit prior to their afternoon contests against No. 1 Le Moyne College.
“Coach dropped a fun fact just before the game that (the) last two times they were number one (in the country), we beat them,” explained Merrimack’s Corey Lunney.
Morgan’s historical statistic motivated the Warriors, who once again defeated the top-team in Division II men’s lacrosse, 5-3. The loss concluded the Dolphins’ 59 game conference winning streak, as well as their 33 game regular winning streak, too.
Merrimack had previously defeated Le Moyne in 2007 before the Dolphins commenced their historic run with a victory a few days later against Dowling.
“We don’t like to lose (on our home field),” said Lunney, who recorded two tallies. “It was an awesome game.”
Merrimack’s Connor Regan recorded a career-best 24 saves between the pipes, which included 17 in the first half. And despite allowing two strikes in the first quarter, Regan regained his composure by shutting out Le Moyne for two frames before they registered their final goal in the fourth on a man-up.
“My defense really allowed me to see the shots that I want to see, they didn’t let anything inside, which is what we’ve been preaching on all week to try to keep the shooters out, so I can get a little better angle and track the ball a little better and make the saves I need to make,” said Regan.
“You saw him have to make more saves today obviously because of (the) man-down situation,” said Morgan, who is in his sixth season with the Warriors.
“You can’t expect to get 24 a game from somebody, but he’s a senior and he beat Le Moyne two years ago at their place when they were number one, so (we) were chatting about that before the game and he certainly was fired up about that and getting another opportunity at home.”
Le Moyne jumped out to a two-goal lead thanks to strikes from Joe Corapi and Nate Frechette. The Dolphins attempted to grow their lead, but were denied by Regan and the Warriors defense as Le Moyne entered the break with 2-0 advantage.
Merrimack appeared rejuvenated once third stanza started as Lunney recorded two goals – one on a man-up, which tied the game at 2.
Greg Melaugh pushed the Warriors ahead for good with a transition strike on the right side with 54 seconds left before teammate Jamie Shand whipped the ball past Jeff White (10 saves) on a man-up.
Le Moyne sliced the deficit with a goal from Alec Westerhoff before Merrimack secured the win 40 seconds later with a strike from Brett Axelson.
“We knew they were going to hold us and we were going to face a struggle, but our defense kept us in it, Connor made a ton of amazing saves (and) we knew they were going to start falling, so it was one half of no goals, but we knew if we kept riding, keep playing our offense, they were going to drop and sure enough the second half we got us some goals,” Lunney said.
“We always know its going to be a dogfight (with) two rivals, two talented teams and obviously it always comes down to one or two goals the last two-three years, so we knew it be a battle,” said Morgan. “Once we were up two with limited time, I knew it was going to be tough for them to comeback because we played pretty good defense for about a half.”
Merrimack finished with 50 shots, 24 ground balls, 17 clears and five face-off wins.
The Warriors, who’re riding a three-game winning streak, will return to the grass on Saturday when they to Albany, New York to face-off against St. Rose at 1 p.m.