Mercyhurst’s most dangerous offensive weapons — Brady Heseltine, Kyle Kallay and Brian Scheetz — had combined for a goal and two points. Yet coach Chris Ryan still felt confident in the fourth quarter of his Lakers’ NCAA Division II semifinal matchup against Dowling. “(We were) up two on our home field,” Ryan said, and he had the nation’s second-ranked scoring defense holding up well. But the Golden Lions broke through that seemingly impenetrable wall of defenders in the final minutes, and the Lakers’ normally potent attack didn’t respond. That two-goal lead vanished. Once Dowling midfielder Kyle Sopko scored with 1 minute, 33 seconds left in overtime, the Lakers’ chance at a second straight national championship vanished, too. “I’m pretty devastated right now,” sophomore defender Andrew Wagner said at Tullio Field after a 7-6 loss ended the season for the previously unbeaten Lakers (13-1) and sent Dowling (12-2) into the championship game. The Golden Lions will face Limestone (17-1), a 10-8 winner against previously unbeaten Le Moyne in Saturday’s other semifinal, on May 27 at 1 p.m. at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. Dowling avenged a 7-6 East Coast Conference loss to Mercyhurst at home March 24. Meanwhile, the Lakers will lament a 15-minute scoring drought to end the game and uncharacteristic defensive breakdowns that allowed the Golden Lions to erase a 6-4 deficit. Dowling junior Billy Richardson scored his second straight goal to tie the score at 6 with 5:42 left. Ryan credited Dowling coach Tim Boyle’s defensive game plan for stifling a Lakers’ attack that entered the matchup averaging nearly 12 goals per game. Long-stick defenders harried the Lakers’ quick, agile midfielders, which kept them from finding the high-scoring trio of attackmen. Mercyhurst’s frontline scorers were silent, except for Scheetz’s second-quarter assist and Kallay’s goal with 11:26 left in the fourth — the Lakers’ final score of the game. “They did a good job of implementing it,” Boyle said of his defense. “We fell out of rhythm,” Ryan said. Ryan wasn’t surprised by Boyle’s defensive strategy since Ryan used the same approach against the Golden Lions. It was working, too, until miscommunications on defense stung the Lakers. Richardson, Dowling’s second-leading scorer, slipped from behind the net to score with 8:17 left in the fourth to spark the Golden Lions’ comeback. Then Richardson slipped behind the defense again for the tying goal. “When we made mistakes, they took advantage,” Ryan said. Yet the Lakers still had a chance to secure their spot in the national title game. Junior midfielder James Chayka had the ball on the right wing in the final seconds of regulation. He was a secondary scorer in the regular season, with 10 goals and 14 points in 13 games. On Saturday, he had two goals and three assists and a chance for the biggest goal of the season. But his shot with 1 second left skipped past the left post. “That hurt,” Chayka said. “It would be a better feeling if I put it in the back of the net.” Sopko understood how Chayka felt. As a kid playing in his back yard, he dreamed of scoring the winning goal in a big playoff game. Late in the 4-minute overtime, Sopko slipped through the middle of the defense, received a pass from senior midfielder Brendan Hayes and fired a shot. Lakers goaltender Michael Grace deflected it, but the ball found the back of the net. “It’s a dream come true,” Sopko said. It was a nightmare for the Lakers, who had a 20-game overall winning streak and a 12-game home win streak snapped. The loss was only their third in 39 home games dating to 2006. Ryan knew the game would be tightly contested, even though the Lakers had won four straight against Dowling. “That’s Dowling-Mercyhurst lacrosse,” he said. “I don’t think we played bad at all. They played hard for more than four quarters. Dowling won a big one today.” VICTOR FERNANDES can be reached at 870-1716 or by e-mail.