Blogs and Commentary

posted 02.27.2012 at 10.03 a.m. by Jac Coyne

Monday Notebook: NCAA Division II

The "break-through" game is cliché, but when it finally happens to your team, there's nothing better. That's why you couldn't wipe the smile off of Seton Hill head coach Brian Novotny's face on the seven-hour trip from Long Island to Greensburg.

"We've been in a lot of situations over the years where we've played a good half or a good three quarters, and in some cases a good four quarters," Novotny said. "We played Mercyhurst to a one-goal game last year. This was one that we kind of broke through and put together a good 60 minutes."

Novotny is referencing the Griffins' 11-10 victory over No. 4 C.W. Post on Saturday – a game that shook both the ECC and Division II to its core, especially combined with Chestnut Hill's victory over No. 9 Mercy. While there were backroom expectations that Post would be a little bit down this year, certainly not enough to allow a Central Pennsylvania interloper to interject itself into the upper echelon.

"We're a pretty talented offensive team," said Novotny. "We've got a few guys who can get to the cage and put the ball in the back of the net. You look at the numbers yesterday and we lost the faceoff battle and the ground ball battle and you start to wonder how we came out with a victory, but it is pretty typical for us. You start to value every possession."

That attitude showed up in the fourth quarter against the Pioneers. With the Griffins trailing by a goal entering the final frame, Seton Hill worked its possession, scoring two goals while keeping Post off the board.

Digging into the box score, it becomes clear just how well the defense played, in particular 6-foot-5, 265-pound senior pole Nash Golon. He was manned up with Eddie Plompen – Post's first team All-American and '12 ECC Preseason Player of the Year. Last year, he limited Plompen to three goals. This year? Plompen not only didn't have a goal, he didn't have a shot.

"[Golon] came out of the game last year and felt like he could do it again," said Novotny. "Sure enough, holding that kid without a shot is a pretty impressive feat. It was a team effort. We knew where he was off-ball at all times; knew what he was doing man-up and in transition, as well as getting on the hands of the feeders."

As much as the Post win has buoyed expectations for Seton Hill, the players are still stinging from last weekend's 15-10 loss to Le Moyne – a game they thought they let slip away. With Dowling coming to town, a team Novotny said "embarrassed" the Griffins last spring, Seton Hill should be ready.

"We want them to pull some confidence from the wins, but they have some pretty lofty goals they've set for themselves," said Novotny of his players. "We'll get back to work. We've got some good senior leadership, and they were saying the C.W. Post was a great win, but it was just one win. We need to get more than one win to have the season we want to have."

- Seton Hill's victory over Post was just the first of internecine upsets amongst the ECC family. While it took three overtimes to shake out, Chestnut Hill managed to defeat No. 9 Mercy, 7-6. The Griffins might have won it in regulation if not for the play of T.J. DiCarlo (14 saves), but Mike Duddy finally finished things with his second of the night.

If you're wondering who is grinning with these results, it's the Northeast-10 – in particular Le Moyne and Adelphi. The more ECC fratricide that goes on, the better it is for the North region.

- Gotta give it up for Dave Klarmann, who has rolled out to a 5-0 record to start his career at Mars Hill. The Lions haven't exactly been playing the '04 Red Sox, but they'll get a chance to prove what they're worth against Florida Southern on Thursday...congratulations to Lake Erie's Greg Stocks for guiding The Storm to their first win over a ranked team with Saturday's 11-8 win over No. 10 Pfeiffer.