Blogs and Commentary

posted 03.04.2013 at 10.00 a.m. by Jac Coyne

NCAA Division II Notebook

All in all, it was a pretty good trip. Pace went out to the Rockies and handed both Adams State and Colorado Mesa one-goal losses, with the latter holding preseason hopes of cracking the four-team South tournament bracket.

Forgive Setters head coach Dave Carty if he's not congratulating himself, or the the team, just yet.

"This is the same group that went out to Arizona two years ago and went 3-0, and the rest of the year we were pretty bad," said Carty about the '11 team that ended up losing nine of its final 11 contests. "I blame myself as much as I blame them. I should have said, 'I know we beat those teams and they were OK, but we're doing this wrong, this wrong and this wrong.' You want to encourage the good things and fix the bad. That's kind of what you want to do every day."

Carty was complimentary of both Colorado teams, saying they would both be competitive in the stacked Northeast-10, but he was hoping to use these games to find out what kind of poise his squad had.

"When you take a long trip like that, you're kind of worried about how you'll respond as a team to all of the adversity," Carty said. "You kind of have to put some stuff out of your mind — that you're playing at almost 7,500 feet. We're a smaller squad, so we knew we were going to be outnumbered and have to control the game and control the clock a little bit."

They were able to do that, but what was heartening was the Setters actually won a couple of close games. In 2012, Pace stumbled in all of its narrow contests, including one-goal losses to St. Anselm, Mercy and Franklin Pierce.

"Last year, we lost all those close ones," Carty said. "We're starting a lot of new guys this year and you kind of wonder what's going to happen when the gloves are off. What impressed us the most was we didn't tighten up. We just started hitting harder and being more physical. Our attackmen started riding harder and our midfielders were running after ground balls. We started pressing out a little. It was nice to see."

The Setters play a winnable game Monday against Dominican, but that's it for the non-conference schedule. The NE-10 expands to 12 teams this year with the full addition of Saint Rose, meaning all of the conference teams have to burn the bulk of their slate within the league. Pace is fortunate to start out the road to the conference championship at home, but it comes against Le Moyne, the league's Darth Vader.

"Things get difficult quickly," laughed Carty.

Time will tell whether the trip to Colorado was the start of something new for Pace or just a psychological boost before the NE-10 grind. Regardless, Carty likes what he sees so far.

"We have hard-working, tough, good kids," he said. "They are doing great in the classroom and doing a lot of different things with service projects. They show up every day and work hard, and that's what you ask for. They're committed to winning."

- When Salvatore Tuttle took the hard-angle shot that ended up being the game-winner in Adelphi's 8-7 win over LIU Post on Saturday afternoon, Panthers coach Gordon Purdie admits he winced at the shot selection.

"It was one of those, 'Oh no,' situations," said Purdie with a big laugh. "But with that said, Sal has great eyes and we give him a green light because he has an ability to find angles that can hurt goalies. He certainly did on that play."

Tuttle needed to come to Adelphi's rescue early in the fourth because, after holding a comfortable, 4-1 lead at halftime, the Panthers found themselves locked in a 7-7 tie when Post exploded for six goals in the third quarter. Matty Beccaris had three of his four goals in the third for the Pioneers as Adelphi looked wobbly.

"They've got a couple of attackmen who are phenomenal," Purdie said of Post. "We had a few man-down situations that hurt us and we struggled a little bit on offense to keep the ball moving, but when you give up six goals, that's definitely a worry. Our defense, which was fourth in the country last year, is all back and we've got a few more players in, so I think teams are going to struggle to score goals on us this year."

Other than the third, the Panther defense was stout, giving up one goal and blanking Post in the second and fourth quarters, helped by 16 saves from All-American netminder Eric Janssen.

One of the subplots of this game was the renewal of a classic Long Island rivalry that had been dormant since 2009 when Adelphi left the ECC for the NE-10. It was clear that fans of the schools didn't forget what this game means in the interim.

"It's exciting to see so many fans; we sold out here at Adelphi today," Purdie. "It's our 40th win against a great program in our 65th year. We've now got some bragging rights for the year, but that game is over now."

Purdie and the Panthers don't have long to revel in this win because they have another long-time Long Island foe visiting this Saturday.

"We cheered Post, we had our celebration and now it's back to work," Purdie said. "We've got a good NYIT rivalry game coming up and they have always been a challenge for us. We feel like we have a pretty strong team that has to learn to play together. The longer that we're on the field as a team, the better we'll become. It certainly was a gamble to play Post in our first game, but we believed we could pull it out. We're really proud of the boys."

- Tyler Kotch had three goals, including the game-winner in overtime, lifting Lenoir-Rhyne to a 12-11 upset of No. 11 Catawba...No. 8 Seton Hill handed Mars Hill its first loss of the season, but there is growing concern about the Griffins faceoff unit after getting dominated by the Lions...Dom Cianfarano scored six goals, lifting Roberts Wesleyan to its first win in program history against an NCAA-II opponent. The Redhawks beat AIC, 10-6...Chestnut Hill had a productive West Coast swing, beating NDNU, 12-3, and following that up with a 19-13 win over a talented Dominican squad. Craig Owen had nine goals and two helpers in the sweep.

- It's time to start taking a closer look at Belmont Abbey. The Crusaders improved to 4-0 with a 7-6 victory over Florida Southern on Saturday, led by three goals from Dan Marshall. The Abbey has three winnable road games before hosting Conference Carolinas foe Queens on March 16...senior Keegan Bal had five goals and three assists for Lake Erie in a 16-8 win over Mount Olive...No. 10 Pfeiffer had a shot at the buzzer to tie No. 1 Mercyhurst, but came up short. After two straight games in the Carolinas, the Lakers host six of their next nine games in Erie.