May 24, 2009

Live Blog: NCAA Division II Championship Game

LMO's Paul Ohanian blogs live from Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass., where C.W. Post meets Le Moyne in the NCAA Division II men's lacrosse championship game.

C.W. Post 8, Le Moyne 7

* Sciulla, Cerar Clutch; C.W. Post Reigns
Cerar Bests Bezak in Marquee Matchup

Closing Notes

posted Sunday at 7:29 p.m. by Paul Ohanian 

* C.W. Post closed the season on an eight-game winning streak and has won 17 of its last 18 dating back to last season.

* The championship is the second in the program"s history and first since 1996.

* Greg Cerar scored all four Pioneer goals in the second half and was named the game's Most Outstanding Player.

* The C.W. Post championship marks the second straight year an East Coast Conference team won the title, as NYIT defeated Le Moyne in 2008.

* C.W. Post sophomore midfielder Mike Messina's brother, Matt, was a member of last year's NYIT championship team.

Postgame comment from Le Moyne's Dan Sheehan on what he told his team at halftime:

"It was the worst half they played all year and I told them that, at both ends of the field. We were going about 75 percent. You're not going to win a lacrosse game if you play for 30 minutes."

Postgame from C.W. Post's Greg Cerar about the team's improvement since the first Le Moyne game:

"Our offense wasn't ready for a defense like that (in the March 21 meeting). They have a great defense, one of the best in the nation. Ever since that game, we were able to get all six guys on the offense to work together."

C.W. Post Wins the Division II Championship 8-7

posted Sunday at 5:25 p.m. by Paul Ohanian

C.W. Post withstood a furious Le Moyne barrage in the closing minutes to hold on for an 8-7 win, claiming its second national championship.

Le Moyne's Jack Harmatuk scored unassisted at 14:17 to pull the Dolphins to within one at 7-6 early in the final period. The score stayed that way until Greg Cerar tallied his fourth goal of the game - all in the second half - with 1:28 left on a back-door feed from Dave Loftus with goalie Doug McIver out of the cage trying to double on the ball. 

Le Moyne answered quickly however as Harmatuk capped a set play with a shot from the crease, assisted by Matt Chadderdon.

Le Moyne had one more possession in the final 48 seconds, but Harmatuk's shot was pushed aside by Post goalie Dan Sciulla, who then beat Brian Welch to the end line to claim possession with three seconds left. Sciulla finished with seven saves in the fourth quarter and 13 in the game.

More to come following the postgame interviews.

Post Carries 7-5 Lead Into the Fourth Quarter

posted Sunday at 4:45 p.m. by Paul Ohanian

The most obvious halftime adjustment was made by John Jez and the C.W. Post coaching staff. After watching Greg Cerar basically serve as a statue in the second quarter, they decided to put the ball in his hands and see what happens.

The result - three unassisted goals from the senior in the third quarter, staking the Pioneers to a two-goal lead heading into the final quarter. Le Moyne tied the game twice during the quarter (4-4 and 5-5) and Cerar answered each time to push Post back in front.

Cerar went straight at Bezek in each case, and beat him on dodges down the alley or on inside rolls. It's the first time all year that a player has scored three times against the national defenseman of the year.

While action continues on the field, the sky is getting noticeably darker. From the press box, we've sighted lightning a couple of times off in the distance, but play resumes on the field. At least the stadium lights are on.

Looks like we're headed for a down-to-the-wire finish.

Back to Le Moyne's Tempo; Post Leads 4-3 at Halftime

posted Sunday at 4:12 p.m. by Paul Ohanian

After seeing six goals scored between the two teams in the first quarter, Le Moyne managed the only marker of the second quarter on Jikado Hanna's 10-yard blast at the 4:08 mark. Both teams maintained long and relatively ineffective possessions in the quarter and generated few solid scoring chances.

Cerar was virtually a non-factor for most of Post's possessions, spending extended periods of time serving as a decoy in one of the deep corners of the offensive zone. And of course, Bezek was standing close by.

It certainly looks like the game is headed in the same direction as the 6-5 final between these teams back on March 21.

Some halftime stats:

Post has outshot Le Moyne 21-15 and has the edge on ground balls, 22-11. Post controlled 12 of 13 ground balls in the quarter, yet went scoreless.

First-team All-American Mike Cama has won seven of nine face offs for the Pioneers.

Le Moyne's Doug McIver has nine saves through 30 minutes, including four in the second quarter.

End of One: C.W. Post Leads 4-2

posted Sunday at 3:39 p.m. by Paul Ohanian

Le Moyne has the nation's top-ranked defense, but C.W. Post is putting that to the test early, with four goals. The Pioneers have scored more goals in the opening 15 minutes than the Dolphins normally allow all game long (3.69 goals against average).

Senior Dave Loftus has two of the CWP goals, including the second on a garbage-type, look-what-I-found loose ball pick-up in fron of the crease with just 26 seconds left in the quarter.

National player of the year Greg Cerar, being hawked by defenseman of the year Drew Bezek, has taken four of CWP's 12 shots, but is yet to score.

Despite trailing, Le Moyne has maintained its methodical offense approach, with long possessions focused on trying to capitalize on the short-stick match-up.

Warm-ups Completed - Let's Play

posted Sunday at 3:00 p.m. by Paul Ohanian

The teams have just come off the field for the final time and are awaiting the introduction of the starting line-ups. Despite having a national anthem prior to the start of the day's first game, we had a second rendition just moments ago, sung by a women's basketball player from nearby Boston College.

C.W. Post is wearing its green tops with white shorts, while Le Moyne is clad in all white, top and bottom. It's much cloudier now than earlier in the afternoon, but the light rain that was falling during warm-ups seems to have stopped. We'll see what effect it has on footing on the turf at Gillette Stadium.

The Post fans are easily the most visable in the grandstand, wearing their bright gold t-shirts and standing as one. We'll see if the teams can match their enthusiasm.

No. 1 Le Moyne, No. 2 C.W. Post Set for D-II Title Match

posted Sunday at 12:50 p.m. by Paul Ohanian

Sunday's second game, the NCAA Division II Championship, is slated for a 3 p.m. start, following the completion of the Gettysburg-Cortland State Division III championship contest.

A few pregame notes to get started:

* Le Moyne (16-0) is shooting for it third perfect season in school history. The Dolphins capped the 2004 (16-0) and 2006 (18-0) seasons with national championships.

* Le Moyne is making its fifth overall and fourth straight appearance in the national championship game. Le Moyne has won the championship three times - 2004, 2006, and 2007 - and finished as the runner-up once, in 2008.

* The Dolphins lost 16-11 to NYIT in last year's championship game. The 16 goals allowed were the most to any opponent since the 1999 season.

* C.W. Post returns to the NCAA final for the first time since 2000, when they lost 10-9 to Limestone.

* C.W. Post is making it  sixth overall appearnce in the final (1993, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000). The Pioneers captured their only championship in 1996 with a 15-10 win over Adelphi.

* Today's game will be the second meeting of the season between the teams. Le Moyne won the first contest, played at Syracuse University's Carrier Dome on March 21, by a 6-5 score.

* Le Moyne has won seven straight against Post and leads the series 7-2.

Projected Starters:

Le Moyne
A  Jack Venditti
A  Jack Harmatuk
A  Nick DiSarro
M  Brian Welch
M  Brian Griffin
M  Marc Cizenski
D  Tim MacLean
D  Drew Bezek
D  Matt Foster
G  Doug McIver

C.W. Post
A  Greg Cerar
A  Dave Loftus
A  Nick Coric
M  Nick Lacagnina
M  Bruan Leonard
M  Mike Cama
D  Richard Schmidt
D  Daniel DaCosta
D  Jon Kology
G  Dan Sciulla

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