WINGATE, N.C. – Champions!

For the first time in the program’s short history, the Saint Leo lacrosse team has claimed the 2009 Deep South Conference Tournament Championship as they defeated Mars Hill College 15-12 in the Championship Game played at Wingate University’s Irwin Belk Stadium on a beautiful Sunday afternoon.

Mars Hill freshman midfielder T.J. Cowx scored 53 seconds into the game to give MHC a 1-0 lead. Saint Leo responded by scoring the game’s next four goals. Senior midfielder Mark Dargon got it started at the 12:51 mark. Guerin capped the spurt at the 7:49 mark to give SLU a 4-1 lead. Cowx scored with 4:41 remaining in the first to cut it to 4-2.

Saint Leo senior attack Benjamin Brigham scored the first two goals of the second period to make it 6-2. Bova notched his second goal of the game to give the SLU Lions a 7-2 lead with 9:08 remaining in the first half. Mars Hill would outscore Saint Leo 4-3 to end the half to cut the lead to four heading to intermission.

Mars Hill cut the lead to three four minutes into the third on a goal from sophomore midfielder Tyler Farmer. The teams would trade goals the remainder of the period as Bova scored with two seconds remaining to give the Lions a 12-8 advantage heading to the final period.

Mars Hill Sophomore attack Tim Burns scored five minutes into the fourth period to make it 12-9 and fans dressed in the Green & Gold began to get nervous.

Saint Leo responded with a decisive 3-0 run to take a six-goal lead. Guerin had two goals and an assist in the pivotal run that made it 15-9 with 4:12 remaining in the game. Hann scored a pair of goals for Mars Hill to cut the lead to four. Hodgins added a goal with 32 seconds remaining to make the final margin 15-12, but SLU would win the final face off and run out the clock, with the Lions storming the field as the final seconds ticked off the scoreboard.

SLU junior attackman Joe Guerin had three goals and six assists to lead the offense. Junior attackman Luke Baruch had five goals and an assist for the SLU lions while junior midfielder Nick Bova added three goals.

Saint Leo held a 36-29 advantage in shots, including a 30-22 edge in shots on goal. SLU sophomore goalie David Erdman had 12 saves on the afternoon. Mars Hill senior Nick Sigona racked up 14 saves.

Saint Leo also held a 40-33 advantage in ground balls, led by sophomore midfielder Mike Del Buono with a game-high eight.

With the DSC Championship trophy in their possession, the Lions will return to the Saint Leo campus on Sunday night as they await the NCAA Tournament bids to be handed out.  Stay tuned to for more information about the date of the announcement.