When LIU Post meets Limestone College for the NCAA Division II lacrosse title Sunday at Baltimore's M&T Bank Stadium, a key matchup will focus on former West Babylon High School stars Dom Mantovani and Kevin Reisman. The two friends will face off against each other.
''It's going to be a lot of fun,'' said Mantovani, Post's faceoff specialist. ''Two kids growing up together all of a sudden playing the biggest game of our lives.''
Reisman, a freshman, laughed when asked how well he knows Mantovani. ''Beside him being from my high school?'' he said. Reisman has been watching game video on Mantovani, but he won't divulge what he has learned, saying, ''I'll keep it to myself, he's a great faceoff guy.''
Reisman has won 69.6 percent of his faceoffs -- which ties him for the D-II lead.
Limestone coach J.B. Clarke said: ''Anytime you can have someone who can get you possession of the ball seven of 10 times over the course of a season, especially when he's a freshman, it's a special campaign for that young man. We're fortunate to have had great lacrosse players from Long Island. It's special to have a connection with an area like Long Island. It certainly brings an element of toughness and lacrosse pedigree that's vital to success at this level.''
Limestone has 10 former Long Island high school players, including Sachem North's Kyle Rhatigan, who leads the team with 67 points.
When he was a senior at West Babylon, Reisman visited Limestone, located in Gaffney, S.C. ''They had a chance to compete for a national title every year and I just fell in love with it,'' he said. ''We have a lot of Long Island guys here, so it's pretty cool that we have to play a Long Island team for the national championship.''
Limestone is making its eighth appearance in the national final, winning in 2000 and 2002.
Mantovani said he isn't surprised Reisman has had an outstanding freshman season.
''I know Kevin, he's a very hard worker,'' he said. ''He would constantly be working when we were younger. He has quick hands. All this hard work has paid off for him, I'm very proud of him. It's going to be a fun time, just focus on what I have to do and try and come out on top.''
Most faceoff specialists are on the field only for the draw. They call it FOGO -- face off, get off. ''It's grueling,'' Reisman said. ''In a high-scoring game, you're taking like 30 faceoffs a game. Honestly, it's just harder than people think. ''
Mantovani has been a force in the postseason. Since April 26, he has won 48 of 93 faceoffs. Post had five straight must-win games after a triple-overtime loss to NYIT.
''We have one more must win,'' coach John Jez said. ''I think we have to slow down their transition and again it's going to come down to faceoffs and goalie play. They're a deeper team than we are. We're going to have to try to manage the game a little bit better.''
The goalie battle will feature Limestone's Patrick Sheridan, second in the nation with a 6.41 goals-against average, against Post's T.J. DiCarlo, who is fourth at 6.84. DiCarlo, from Farmingdale, is a graduate student who played three seasons at Mercy. An automobile accident cost him his senior year at Mercy. ''I knew the program was a great program,'' he said of Post. ''I've also known coach Jez. I have a lot of friends that came through this program. [Goalie] Mike Giordano won a championship here [in 2009 and 2010]. To see him flashing his ring all the time. You see it, you want one of those.''
Now, DiCarlo and his teammates are within reach of the program's fourth title. ''These guys have a consistent effort and a refuse-to-lose mentality," he said. ''Just seeing that and being in that atmosphere is why we are where we are now.''