NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. -- Leading by just a goal with plenty of time remaining, Preseason All-American and junior forward Jamie Shand put eighth-ranked Merrimack on his back, ripping off a pair of game-deciding, back-to-back goals to give the Warriors a lead they would never relinquish, as the Navy and Gold held on for a huge regional victory against No. 9 LIU Post on Wednesday afternoon at Martone-Mejail Field.
In a must-win game for a Merrimack side that was in desperate need of a victory against a ranked team, the Warriors got their money's worth against the ninth-ranked Pioneers, as each side went toe-to-toe with neither squad leading by more than two goals over the length of the contest.
After Merrimack carried an 8-6 lead into the final quarter, LIU responded quickly to draw within one, but the hosts would respond two minutes later on their third man-up goal of the game at 11:22 of the fourth, making it a 9-7 lead for the Warriors.
Once again, LIU answered, this time at the 6:24 mark to make it a one-goal game again. That, however, was when Shand came to the rescue; he blitzed a shot by Pioneer goalkeeper T.J. DiCarlo (12 saves) at 6:24 before capping off his hat trick performance with the biggest marker of the game at 2:43, taking a feed from fellow Preseason All-American Mike Perdie and burying it with 2:43 to go to put the Warriors on top by three.
As things turned out, Merrimack would need every single one of those tallies, as the Pioneers came right back down and answered with a tick under two minutes to play and then again with 1:23 to go, as the visitors threatened to storm all the way back with the momentum on LIU's side.
Merrimack would win the final faceoff of the game thanks to more heroics by sophomore Andrew Walsh, who won 14-of-25 battles on the X, but a turnover gave possession back to the Pioneers with a minute to play.
But the Warrior defense did their part, as senior Jimmy Holland intercepted an LIU pass in the defensive end before junior Brandon Waiter picked off another one with seconds to go, securing the Warriors' first win against a ranked team this season and one that they desperately needed to stay alive in the race for an at-large berth in the NCAA tournament.