May 4, 2014

LIU Post Claws Its Way into MD2 Tourney

by Jac Coyne | | Coyne Archive | Twitter

Not only are Conor Whipple (above) and Tampa heading to the NCAA tourney for the first time, they'll also get a home game. (Tampa Athletics)

LIU Post started the season with a 6-5 record, but it finished with a 3-0 kick, including taking home the hardware from the inaugural East Coast Conference tournament. That proved to be enough to get the Pioneers into the eight-team NCAA Division II men's lacrosse tournament, which was announced on Sunday evening.

The Pioneers (9-5) will be traveling to Syracuse to face defending national champion and second-seeded Le Moyne (13-2) in the quarterfinals, which begins on May 10. The Dolphins lost in the Northeast-10 semifinals to Merrimack, but were able to hold onto the second slot in the North. Last year, the script was flipped as Le Moyne was the third seed in the bracket and had to travel to LIU Post on its way to the title.

Adelphi (16-1) grabbed the top spot in the North after subduing Merrimack in overtime of the Northeast-10 championship game. It's the second straight season that the Panthers have grabbed top honors in the North bracket, and they host Long Island neighbor Dowling (12-4) in the first round. The Lions were a little wobbly late in the season, losing a pair of games to LIU Post and needing a furious rally in the waning minutes to beat Chestnut Hill in the ECC semifinals, but were bolstered by early season wins over Merrimack and NYIT.

Both Merrimack and, more so, NYIT, had strong cases for admission to the NCAA tournament. In a bitter irony, NYIT was a near-lock for the tourney at the end of the regular season, but were undone by the first-ever ECC tourney, in which they lost in the first round.

On the South side of the bracket, Limestone (16-1) breezed to the No. 1 seed, with the only blemish on the record coming early in the season to Le Moyne, a non-regional foe. The Saints were paired up with former Conference Carolinas rival Queens (N.C.) in the first round. The Royals (12-4) won the inaugural South Atlantic Conference title, and parlayed regional wins over Pfeiffer and Mercyhurst into the first NCAA berth in program history.

In the other South match-up, Tampa (15-2) – in just its third varsity season – will be the second seed and host third-seeded Mercyhurst (12-3). The Lakers thumped the Spartans during the regular season, 14-7, and stood ahead of Tampa in the last regional ranking, but Mercyhurst's semifinal exit from the ECAC tournament was enough to send them to Florida in the first round.

This year's field features most of the traditional heavyweights in the division. Adelphi (7), Le Moyne (4), LIU Post (3), Limestone (2), Mercyhurst and Dowling have combined to win 18 of the last 24 national championships. NYIT, which just missed out on admission this year, has four of the six missing titles in that span.

The NCAA Division II national championship game will take place on Sunday, May 25, at 4 p.m. at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Md.

Men's NCAA Division II Bracket

No. 4 Dowling (12-4) at No. 1 Adelphi (16-1)
No. 3 LIU Post (9-5) at No. 2 Le Moyne (13-2)

No. 4 Queens (12-4) at No. 1 Limestone (16-1)
No. 3 Mercyhurst (12-3) at No. 2 Tampa (15-2)

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