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Kyle Hatcher
Kyle Hatcher had four goals and two assists to lead the Bears.
photo courtesy of Lenoir-Rhyne Athletics

L-R Men’s Lacrosse Downs Limestone, Heads to National Championship

For the second time in three years, the Lenoir-Rhyne Men’s Lacrosse Team won the South Regional Championship and will advance to the National Championship game. The Bears did so in convincing fashion, winning 18-11 at the two-seed and conference rival Limestone. With the win, the Bears become the first No. 5 seed in NCAA Tournament history to reach a National Championship and did so on the strength of three road wins. Kyle Hatcher had four goals and six points and the duo of Myles Moffat and Toron Eccleston each had three goals and two assists in the win.

It was Evan Voss who got the Bears on the board with a goal 2:56 in to the game as LR scored first for the 15th time this season. LR is now 13-2 when scoring first in 2023.

After Limestone evened it at one, a stalemate ensued. After 6:13 of scoreless play from both sides, LR struck with goals from Moffat and Eccleston to end the first quarter with a 3-1 advantage.

The teams would trade goals to start the second quarter before LR went on a big scoring run. LR scored four straight and five of the final six goals of the first half to go up 9-3 into the break.

In total, LR outscored Limestone 6-2 in the second quarter and held the Saints to just five shots in the 15 minute frame. The Bears pushed the lead to as many as eight at 11-3 with the first two goals of the second half but the Saints clawed back. The third quarter would end with LR holding a 14-8 advantage as Limestone wnet on a 5-3 run.

The lead was cut to 14-9 with a goal at the 13:01 mark of the fourth but LR hand an emphatic answer. Hatcher started a 4-0 spurt that made it 18-9 and ended it. Limestone would score twice in the final 23 seconds to make it 18-11.

The Bears held a 49-38 advantage in shots and 30-23 edge in shots on goal. Rob Pensabene made 12 saves and now has stopped 42 shots in three NCAA Tournament games.

Victor Powell caused three turnovers and had four ground balls. Voss would finish with four goals and an assists and has 12 points in the Bears past two NCAA Tournament wins.

Matthew Mancini went 14-of-31 on face offs and grabbed eight ground balls.

LR improves to 7-4 in NCAA Tournament games and have won the past two National Semifinal games against SAC foes by a combined score of 36-21. The Bears are 17-3 on the season.

LR has traveled 1,371 miles to win these three road NCAA Tournament games and get to the National Championship in Philadelphia. Five seeds had won three total NCAA Tournament games heading into this tournament and LR was able to double that number themselves.

This tied the team record for most goals in an NCAA Tournament game. LR also scored 18 against Wingate in the 2021 National Semifinal. The 12 assists are the most in an NCAA Tournament game, surpassing the previous record of 11 which was done at Rollins.
LR is 118-3 all-time when leading after three quarters.

Limestone came in as the fifth-most prolific scoring offense in Division II with 17.4 goals per game but the Bears held them to a season-low 11. Pensabene is now 16 saves away from breaking the all-time Division II mark for most saves in a tournament. Tim Hart stopped 57 shots in the 1977 tournament and Pensabene has 42 through the first three games.

Of Hatcher’s 35 career goals, 13 have come in NCAA Tournament games. This is his second 4-goal NCAA Tournament game as he found the back of the net a quartet of times against Tampa in 2021.

The Bears advance to the program’s second National Championship game and will take on Mercyhurst on Sunday at 1 p.m. at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia. Mercyhurst knocked out Le Moyne 11-10 in the North Region Semifinal.