February 14, 2014

#LMRanks: No. 1 LIU Post Pioneers (WD2)

By Mark Macyk | LaxMagazine.com | Twitter

No. 1 LIU Post Pioneers

2013 record: 20-0 (7-0 East Coast Conference) 
Coach: Meghan McNamara (seventh season)
Record at LIU Post: 99-14

Top Returner: A Jackie Sileo (Sr.)
Sileo, Division II’s all-time points leader, is one of the country’s most dynamic players at any level and set Post single-season records with 178 points and 117 assists in 2013.

X-Factor: M Katie Rotan (Sr.)
Sileo’s roommate has long been an unsung hero for the Pioneers. After 40 goals and 18 assists in 2013, the All-American Rotan should help ease the loss of the heralded senior class that Post just graduated.

Jackie Silo is LM's Preseason Player of the Year and hopes to lead the Pioneers back to the top. (Scott McCall)

Previous: No. 2 Adelphi

The LIU Post women’s lacrosse team is not your typical two-time defending NCAA champion, coming off of an undefeated season.

The Pioneers proved that after last year’s title game, when the they revealed their unorthodox pre-championship rituals. Some watched the Little Rascals movies. Some danced. Others visualized the victory. Many drank pickle juice.

“There are so many different personalities so it’s never boring,” said Jackie Sileo, Post’s preternaturally gifted midfielder, who, at the start of her senior season is approaching the NCAA’s all-division points record. “We all hang out with each other constantly. Sometimes that can be a bad thing for girls, but we have so much fun.”

She’s right. All that bonding can certainly be a bad thing for some girls - specifically the ones on the teams Post plays against. Last year they beat their opponents by an average score of 17-7. But it’s dominance with a smile.

“We just kind of translate it all over to playing,” Sileo said. “After goals we’re dying laughing. It’s just so much more fun. We enjoy it all.”

They’re laughing a lot. Set up often by Sileo and her program-record 117 assists, Post ranked second in Division II in goals per game last year. They also ranked seventh in goals against and just two of their regular season wins came by fewer than seven goals.

That’s why, despite the graduation of a loaded senior class that included two All-Americans - program all-time scoring leader Ashley Olen and former IWLCA Goalie of the Year Dominique Mosca - rumors of LIU Post’s demise have been greatly exaggerated.  

For one, Sileo, LM’s Preseason Player of the Year, is still there. Division II's all-time point leader enters 2013 just 25 points behind D-I record career record holder Jen Adams and 80 points shy of Division III's  Ashley Hansbury's D-III record. As is All-American midfielder Katie Rotan (40 goals, 18 assists, 34 ground balls) and All-American defender Melissa Rohr (31 ground balls, 11 turnovers).

The Pioneers are going to be right there when the season ends.

“Everyone can say they’re down, they’re down, they’re down,” said a rival coach. “They’re still the champions. They still know how to play.”

That expectation of consistent success starts at the top, with Meghan McNamara, the IWLCA Coach of the Year. For years McNamara has talked about the key to recruiting in the always-competitive Long Island scene - with Shannon Smith and Joe Spallina at Division I and always-dominant Division II foe Adelphi all competing for recruits -- to be bringing in the type of player who fit in at Post. The upperclassmen then make sure those players understand what that means.

“No year is ever going to be the same,” Sileo said. “It’s a huge adjustment after losing so many key players. It’s definitely different. We’re just doing the best we can to instill the same mindset that we’ve had with the underclassman.”

Post plays a tough schedule with Le Moyne, Bentley and Stonehill on the non-league slate. Those are a risky games for all involved, because, while all four have postseason aspirations, it’s probably impossible for all four to reach the tournament. 

But the Pioneers roll on, undaunted. The recent run puts them second in Division II history, behind only Adelphi, with four NCAA championships. There will always be rule changes and graduations, and plenty will shift around them in Division II, the Pioneers’ spirit will stay the same.

“I think it’s fun,” McNamara said. “With the new rules and stuff it changes everything just a little bit. We get to be creative as a team, with different personnel now here. I find it a nice new challenge for us. We embrace this.”

Lacrosse Magazine will continue its 2014 college lacrosse preview throughout January and into February, with team-by-team breakdowns of the top teams in NCAA Division I, II and III men's and women's lacrosse. Follow the countdown at LaxMagazine.com/LMRanks and on twitter at #LMRanks.

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