May 15, 2014

Staying Close to Home Pays Off for Crimi, Adelphi

by Mark Macyk | | Twitter | May Madness Home

Devan Crimi broke Adelphi's single-season scoring record in the Panthers' first round NCAA win over Saint Anselm this weekend. (Greg Wall)

It’s hard to imagine now -- after the 372 career points, the national championship, the Northeast-10 Player of the Year award and the best season in program history -- but there was a time when Devan Crimi would have prefered to play college lacrosse at anywhere but Adelphi.

“I was the first person to say, ‘Get me off the Island,’” Crimi said. “Send me far, far away.’ If you could have booked me a flight to California, I would have taken ”

But when Adelphi came calling, promising the allure of Division II’s winningest program and the opportunity to be a part of history, Crimi bought in. After all, a player only get so many chances to win championships. The West Islip native’s decision was immediately rewarded, as Adelphi rolled to an NCAA title during her freshman season.

That summer, while several teammates transferred to Stony Brook, the one player who never expected to be at Adelphi was one who stayed behind. For that decision, Crimi turned to the wisest person she could think of.

“Ultimately my mom gave me great advice,” Crimi said. “‘If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.’ I had all the faith that they were going to keep the program going. I couldn’t have asked for anything better than Coach [Rob] Grella.”

Grella came in and Adelphi proved right away that nothing was broken (until last week, at least, when Crimi broke AU's single-season scoring mark). Crimi put up 71 points during her sophomore season Adelphi won 16 games and reached the first round of the NCAA tournament, where they lost to LIU Post. The next year she notched 101 points as the Panthers made their return to the North Region finals, where they lost again to LIU Post. On Saturday in Salem, Va., the Panthers will once again be in the North Region finals against, you guessed it, LIU Post.

Crimi enters the weekend tops in Division II in goals with 79 and second in points with 127. That’s 14 points behind LIU’s Jackie Sileo for the lead and 13 ahead of Dowling’s Jackie Andersen, who ranks third. Which is crazy becuase Crimi, Sileo and Andersen all played on the same travel lacrosse team while growing up on Long Island’s South Shore. Crimi’s mom recently pulled out a photo as a reminder of a time Division II’s Big 3 played side by side.

“It’s funny to look back and see where we were and see where we are now,” Crimi said. “Now we’ll run into each other and we’re just cracking up.”

The playing careers of both Crimi and Sileo will end this weekend in Salem, Va. One has to end on Saturday, the other on Sunday. But Crimi and Sileo Should continue to run into each other from time to time

Like Sileo, who plans on joining LIU Post’s coaching staff next season, Crimi has accepted a spot on Adelphi’s coaching staff next season while she pursues her masters degree.

It will be an extended stay in Garden City for the player who couldn't wait to leave Long Island.

Said Crimi: “Long Island and lacrosse just keep sucking me in.”

Panthers Honoring Coach Flego

Before each game, when Crimi meets with the rest of Adelphi’s attack unit, they make sure to remind each other who they’re playing for: AU assistant coach Nicole Flego.

“Everytime we say, ‘Let’s do it. We’ll make her happy,’” Crimi said. “One last thing she’ll have to worry about when she gets home.”

Flego, who focuses primarily on Adelphi’s attack, recently underwent emergency surgery for a brain tumor. The Panthers are honoring their coach this season with yellow shooting shirts with “NF” on the back above of a picture of Flego’s sunglasses.

Flego has been a relentlessly positive influence on the team, who encouraged creativity from Division II’s No. 1 ranked offense. She returned to the sidelines in a wheelchair this weekend, cheering on as the Panthers defeated Saint Anselm, 20-6, in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

“She’s an inspiration to us all,” Crimi said “All the struggles she’s had, it kind of puts everything else in perspective. We’ve dedicated the rest of our season to her. She’s been a huge part of our team. We just love her so much.”

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