GARDEN CITY, N.Y. — The odds of playing a team you are familiar with in the NCAA Tournament in Division II are pretty high.
After all, the amount of teams in the Division is small, couple that with six teams in the NCAA tournament field and it breeds familiarity.
Adelphi and Le Moyne’s third meeting of the season was proof of that, with both teams coming out of the Northeast-10 Conference and landing in Saturday’s national semifinals, which the Panthers won 18-13.
But this rivalry is in its infancy. Le Moyne’s first season back at the Division II level after coming down from Division I this year was a successful one. The Dolphins’ only three losses came at the hands of the Panthers.
Circle the date next year when the Dolphins and Panthers meet, there’s no love lost.
If the 84 combined fouls, 52 coming from the Le Moyne side, aren’t proof of that, just ask Adelphi senior Claire Petersen who finished with four goals.
“This was their first year in the conference so we wanted to welcome them to it. People think that there’s such a difference between DI and DII but there really isn’t. We practice just as hard as them, if not harder.”
Elizabeth Fey also tacked on four goals for Adelphi, which improved to 11-2 in NCAA Tournament games.
The Panthers think they can play with any team – they’ve proven they can on the DII level making four consecutive national championship games. And they mean DI teams, too.
“It was very important for us [to sweep Le Moyne],” Adelphi head coach Joe Spallina said. “It was important for us to show the rest of the Division I world – if we were to lose to a team that came down from Division I, people would be able to say ‘they are really just a DII caliber team.’ But we’re not. We’ve proven that before and we’ll prove that again.”
But all talk about DI-DII aside Saturday, the bottom line is that the Panthers will play on their home field Sunday for an unprecedented third consecutive DII Women’s Lacrosse championship Sunday afternoon. And Spallina couldn’t even fathom his team sitting that out.
“I have to be honest, I was pretty nervous coming into this game,” Spallina said. “Being the home team, and feeling the pressure that goes into this game, it would have been tough for the national championship to be played on this field and not being involved in it. I didn’t want the athletic director down, and the great athletic department here. I didn’t want to let them down with the great show they are putting on.”
Spallina and his Panthers now get that chance on Sunday at noon ET.
Need to Know
• Limestone may be the new kid on the block in lacrosse, and having dominated the South Region of Division II the last few seasons, the Saints finally got over the hump and into the national title game with a 10-9 win against West Chester in Saturday’s second semifinal.
It will be the first national championship appearance for Limestone and the team can thank Raquel Prager for her six goals. Prager grew up 15 minutes from the Adelphi campus in Seaford, N.Y., and the many friends and family in attendance Saturday helped her cause.
“It was awesome to look up into the stands and see everyone up there in the stands,” Prager said. “It really gave me an extra bit of motivation – not like I needed any today, though.”
• Sunday’s national championship game between Adelphi and Limestone will be played at noon ET and will be shown live on NCAA.com.
• Adelphi defeated Le Moyne 17-11 on May 8 to win its second Northeast-10 Tournament title in a row. Saturday’s victory was the third of the season for the Panthers against the Dolphins.
• The Panthers look to become the first team in Division II Women’s Lacrosse history to win three national championships in a row when they face Limestone Sunday. It is Adelphi’s third consecutive appearance in the title game, which is one short of West Chester’s record of five.
• Le Moyne finished the season 18-3 with all three losses coming against Adelphi. It was the first year back at the Division II level for the Dolphins after competing at the Division I level.
• The second half of the Adelphi-Le Moyne game was the highest scoring half in Division II Women’s Lacrosse tournament history with each team scoring nine goals.
• Limestone improved its record to 2-0 against West Chester this season. The Saints beat the Golden Rams 16-10 on March 10 in Salem, Va.