By Michael Otero
On Wednesday, Apr. 29, the top seeded LIU Post men’s lacrosse team met the fourth-seeded Lions from Molloy College in the East Coast Conference (ECC) Semifinals at Bethpage Federal Credit Union Stadium in Brookville, N.Y.
The Pioneers, eager to get going, opened up the scoring in the first quarter and tacked on three more goals to take a commanding 4-0 lead early on. Junior attackman Matt Bellando provided the first goal and also assisted on two of the other three tallies in the quarter. Senior attackman Chris Caiazza and junior midfielder Anthony Berardis each added goals of their own during that span as well.
In the second quarter, the Lions responded with two goals in a sixty second span to cut the lead to 4-2. With the momentum seemingly hanging in the balance, the Pioneers grabbed it when the tag-team of senior midfielder Connor Drost and Caiazza each scored just 30 seconds apart. Going into the break, the Pioneers led 9-5 over the Lions.
The Pioneers put all hopes of a comeback to rest in the second half as they racked up goal after goal and got a great performance at the other end by junior goalie Adam Winne. Winne made a game-high 15 saves en route to the 15-7 victory, while senior defenseman Dan Jeannotte earned his first collegiate goal.
The Pioneers returned to the field on Saturday, May 2, when they played the Bears from NYIT in the ECC Championship game in Brookhaven, N.Y. The Pioneers were victorious and won their second straight conference title.
After an early strike by the Bears, the Pioneers responded with three unanswered goals to grab a 3-1 lead. Bellando tallied back-to-back goals in that span while Drost followed with an unassisted goal. In the second quarter, it had to feel like déjà vu for the Bears as they struck first to cut the lead to 3-2, but were quickly silenced with another three goal spurt for LIU Post. The Bears stayed strong however, and managed to pull to 7-5 at halftime.
The Bears drew first blood once again in the third quarter, but the Pioneers continued the theme on the afternoon of responding to adversity. They answered that tally by sophomore attacker Thomas Hughes with four straight goals to go ahead 11-6. In that span, Berardis netted a goal and provided two assists.
Both sides scored a couple more goals, but the Bears never really posed a threat to the Pioneers late in the game. When the clock hit triple zeroes, the Pioneers found themselves 14-9 winners and ECC Champions for the second straight year.
Junior attackman Matty Beccaris led all players with six points while Berardis tallied two goals and two assists for a four-point effort. Jeannotte was dominant on faceoffs; winning 60 percent of them and giving LIU control for most of the afternoon. In the cage, Winne made 13 saves and was selected as the Most Outstanding Player of the ECC Championship.
The Pioneers now await word on a potential bid to the NCAA Division II Championship.