March 22, 2012

WD2 Notebook: Le Moyne Beats Adelphi, But It Wasn't Easy

by Mark Macyk |

Brittany Brigandi was one of eight different goal-scorers for Le Moyne on Wednesday night against Adelphi. The top-ranked Dolphins handed the second-ranked Panthers their first loss in 30 games, a streak dating to 2010.
© Lee Weissman

A couple of things became clear after Le Moyne's 11-10 women's lacrosse victory over Adelphi on Wednesday night on Long Island.

First, the Dolphins deserve the No. 1 ranking this week. Hand Adelphi its first loss in 30 games and you earn that spot. And, second, Adelphi's still pretty darn good.

"We found that out the hard way," said Le Moyne coach Beth Hewitt.

After Adelphi went up 2-0 early, the game became a back-and-forth affair with five ties before Le Moyne took the lead for good at 8-7. That lead reached 11-8 when Brittany Brigandi scored with 3:40 remaining and stayed that way until under a minute remained.

Then Adelphi did what it does best and scored quickly. Devan Crimi added a couple of goals in the final minute, but Le Moyne (4-0) won the final draw to seal a big one-goal win.

"As we approached the three-minute mark we started to slow up a little," Hewitt said. "Credit to Adelphi. They kept fighting the entire time. You know they're gonna do it. They got in our faces, the offense stalled a little bit. Luckily we were able to hold on."

The loss is Adelphi's first since 2010 and its first as a member of the Northeast-10 and under first-year head coach Rob Grella, who took over for Joe Spallina this offseason. The 10 goals were the Panthers fewest since the 2008 NCAA semifinals, a span of 67 games.

Le Moyne fell to Adelphi three times last season. Hewitt said the game was more about a young team earning a win in a tough environment, than avenging any losses from last season.

"Obviously they're excited to beat the team that beat them three times," Hewitt said. "We have such a young team and to be able to come together and play at Adelphi in such a big game... Everyone was excited to get a team win. We didn't have one player with six goals. The group is young but they play really well together as a unit. You strive for that as a coaching staff."

Le Moyne, which has only four seniors, received goals from eight different players. Brigandi, a senior, had two, as did sophomores Victoria Nies and Kathleen Conese. Senior goalie Kelly Fucillo made 13 saves.

Crimi had three goals to lead Adelphi (5-1) and Erica Devito, Meg Brown and Marissa Mills added two goals each.

Though the Dolphins are young, Hewitt didn't necessarily think playing Adelphi later in the season would have been better. After all, they could meet again in May. Last year Adelphi and Le Moyne faced off in the NE-10 title game and again in the NCAA North region final.

"I don't know if there is an ideal time to be honest," Hewitt said. "Conference rivals, it's always going to be a huge game to start the year or to end the year. I don't think either one of us had the best game we'll play all year. It's a measuring stick for both of us at this point. It's a good time to see where we are. I don't think there's any point where you can pick the perfect time."

Le Moyne will look to build on its NE-10 momentum Saturday at conference foe Saint Michael's. Adelphi plays at No. 15 Saint Anselm the same day.

Nothing Easy in NE-10

For Le Moyne, earning a key conference victory in the NE-10 was even bigger than ending Adelphi's winning streak. The conference is more competitive than ever this year. Last season Le Moyne lost to Adelphi and still managed to make the NCAA tournament. This season that might not be case.

"It's not a guarantee even with this win that we're getting in," Hewitt said. "We're in a really tough conference, a really tough region. The competition is so stiff. It speaks to the level of play coming into the Division II level. There's a ton of parity. The entire Top 15 is competitive."

Nowhere is that truer than the NE-10, home to seven of this week's Top 15 teams. No. 8 New Haven (4-0) hasn't won a game by fewer than 10 points. The only loss for No. 9 Stonehill (4-1) came in overtime to undefeated Rollins and doesn't count in-region. No. 12 Bentley (2-2) nearly beat Limestone a few weeks ago. And No. 2 Adelphi (5-1) isn't exactly exiting the playoff discussion.

There's probably only room for two NE-10 teams in the North playoffs. No. 3 C.W. Post (3-0) looks like the ECC's team to beat and all three of its wins have come against the NE-10.

Rollins Ruling South

If any team is going to end North supremacy this year, it could be No. 4 Rollins (9-0). It will take some huge upsets to keep the Tars out of the South region playoffs after they knocked off Lock Haven, 18-10, last Thursday.

Rollins followed that up on Saturday by scoring some regional bragging rights for the South with a 14-13 overtime victory over Stonehill. Ginevra Czech and Erica Pagliarulo scored in the first overtime for Rollins. Stonehill's Heather Sullivan cut the deficit to one in the second overtime, but Rollins held on.

The only ranked opponent remaining on Rollins schedule is a trip to No. 12 Florida Southern (7-1) on April 11.

South Impossible to Predict

But let's take a look anyway.

No. 5 Limestone (9-1) appears to have the inside track at joining Rollins in the South playoffs. The defending region champs lost by one to Rollins and have big southern wins over No. 6 Lock Haven, Queens and Indiana (Pa.).

Canadian sophomore sensation Sarah Oor had a huge game against Lock Haven, finishing with two goals, four assists and four ground balls and Racquel Prager had four goals and one assist. Limestone has no games remaining against ranked opponents, but a road trip this weekend to Mercyhurst (3-2) will not be easy.

Perennial playoff contender Lock Haven (1-3) now has an uphill battle for the playoffs. After tough losses to Rollins and Limestone, the Eagles fell 12-10 to PSAC foe Millersville (4-2) on Tuesday. To get back into the conversation Lock Haven will likely need to run the table in the PSAC. Upsetting No. 3 C.W. Post, which counts as in-region because Pennsylvania and New York are attached, on Saturday would also go a long way.

Millersville's early in-region losses to Seton Hill and Shepherd could hold it back, but upsetting Lock Haven is a great first step. A strong PSAC showing, including a victory or two over West Chester, should put the Marauders in the conversation.

Mercyhurst (3-2) handed Seton Hill its only loss last week and still has Limestone, Lock Haven, West Chester and the PSAC to boost its resume. The Lakers have lost in-region to Florida Southern and Rollins.

But if any PSAC school can be called a favorite, it's West Chester. The Golden Rams are 3-0 with all wins coming in the South. If West Chester wins the PSAC, it is probably a lock for the playoffs.

But if the PSAC teams keep beating each other would it be possible for the league, which sent two teams to the tournament last season, to send zero this year? The league is extremely competitive and could become a victim of its own parity. A bunch of three-loss teams could push the ECC's Seton Hill (6-1) or independent Florida Southern (7-1) into the conversation.

Since Lock Haven defeated Florida Southern, it will be tough for the first-year program to get in. But if the Mocs run the table, which would include a win over Rollins, they'd have a solid case for being the third team.

Oddly C.W. Post could have a huge impact on the South playoff race. If Pennsylvania schools West Chester, Seton Hill or Lock Haven can pull an upset over the Pioneers, it would provide a huge boost for each team's playoff hopes.

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