May 18, 2014

LIU Post Playoff Run Continues Into NCAA Finals

by Joe Pantorno | | Twitter | May Madness Home

Matty Beccaris scored five goals as LIU Post punched its ticket to the NCAA finals next Sunday in Baltimore, where they will face Limestone. (Kevin P. Tucker)

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Numbers don't mean much, especially in the postseason. But after seeing Adelphi's 41-19-1 all-time record against LIU Post, including an 11-7 win in March, there was a feeling that the nation's number one seed, at 17-1, would continue its domination over the 10-5 Pioneers in the NCAA semifinals.

No one told Matty Beccaris and Post, though as they punched their ticket to the Division II National Championship game in Baltimore next weekend with a 12-9 win over Adelphi, in the Panther's house on Sunday afternoon.

"It was an up and down game all the way," Post head coach John Jez said. "Everytime you play a 17-1 team, number one in the nation, it's going to be a battle. Our guys played great and fought through, though."

Beccaris' five goals on the day, including three of his side's final four goals solidified the fact that Post is indeed the hottest team in the nation. After a 6-5 start and postseason play highly in doubt, Post has won four straight.

"It's been a lot of teamwork. Earlier in the year, we came out to a slow start," Beccaris said. "We were trying to find our offense and chemistry. It wasn't clicking at first, but when our back was to the wall, it really shows what dedication and hard work can do."

Adelphi, looking for its eighth national championship this season, overcame a 7-3 second quarter deficit, using a four-goal run, including three in 1:46 during the third quarter to tie the game. After allowing three unanswered goals between the third and fourth quarters, Adelphi clawed back to within one with two minutes left in the game. They never held a lead.

"The third quarter was good to us," Adelphi head coach Gordon Purdie said. "We started getting some possessions and face-offs. We got some quality shots and started believing again."

Much of that had to do with the play of graduate goalie T.J. DiCarlo, who displayed an arsenal of fine saves to keep a high-powered Adelphi offense, led by 75-point scorer Salvatore Tuttle, frustrated for most of the day. His finest save came in the second quarter, with his side up 5-3, when he improbably scooped up shot with one hand on a shot by Adelphi's Nick Susko. Susko received a pass on the doorstep with a gaping net, but his low shot wasn't quick enough.

"The defense played phenomenal today," DiCarlo said. "Sal Tuttle is a great athlete, great lacrosse player, he's one of the best. But our defense played with a gladiator mentality today and we capitalized on what we practiced all week and we got the result that we wanted."

DiCarlo recorded 14 saves on the afternoon.

"DiCarlo certainly stepped up and won the game for them," Purdie said. "He had a couple of good saves, key saves that we thought could have gone in. He was in place. He played a very, very good game."

While Adelphi's Tuttle was held to a pair of goals and an assist, Brandon Goodwin led the Panthers with four points on three goals and an assist, all during the Panthers' second half rally.

But it was penalties and special teams that helped do Adelphi in. With a physical game being played, each team committed six penalties, but Post took advantage of their extra-man opportunities, going 5-for-6 on the game.

"Our man-down squad gave up too many man-down goals," Purdie said. "We gave up five. You look across the boards at the stats, we have the same ground balls and clears."

Beccaris' five goals puts him at 31 on the season, his final two providing the most relief to Post. With Adelphi down 10-9 a pair of empty netters in the final 35 seconds ensured LIU was home safe and dry.

"We just tried to slow it down a little bit, play it smarter," Beccaris said. "We attacked when the time was right."

The Pioneers will look to win their third national championship in five years next Sunday when they take on Limestone in Baltimore's M&T Bank Stadium.

"We work hard every day, listen to our coaches and play our game plan," DiCarlo said. "That's it. One step at a time."

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