GARDEN CITY, N.Y. -- Seventh-ranked LIU Post will play for the NCAA Division II national championship after a 12-9 win against top-ranked Adelphi in a national semifinal clash Sunday at Motamed Field.
The Pioneers' appearance in the national title game is the fourth in program history, and the third under head coach John Jez. Jez guided the Green and Gold to the title in 2009 and '10, the latter of which was played at this year's host site, M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore.
LIU Post (11-5), looking to avenge an earlier regular-season loss to Adelphi, held a 4-2 lead at the conclusion of one quarter of play. Tied 1-1, junior midfielder Connor Drost scored an even-strength goal, and assisted on an Anthony Berardis man-up tally a little more than two minutes later for a two-goal cushion.
The Panthers struck first in the second quarter to cut the deficit to one (4-3), but the Pioneers netted three unanswered goals in a two-plus minute stint to widen their advantage to 7-3. Sophomore attackman Ryan Slane tallied a goal and two assists in the spurt. One of those helpers came on a marker by sophomore attackman Matty Beccaris, who finished with a game-high seven points (5 goals, 2 assists).
The Green and Gold would eventually carry a 7-4 cushion into the intermission. Adelphi owned a 20-19 edge in shots, while LIU Post won the ground ball battle (13-10) in the half.
Adelphi came out with a vengeance in the third quarter, rattling off three consecutive goals in 1:46, to even the score at 7. Junior midfielder Brandon Goodwin had two of the goals. Sophomore attacker Salvatore Tuttle added one.
Though the Pioneers rang three shots off the iron in the period, they were rewarded at the 1:34 mark, en route to regaining a one-goal edge. Drost ripped a shot past AU graduate goalie Aidan Bennardo, off a feed from Slane.
Early In the final 15-minute session, Beccaris and graduate attackman/midfielder Joe Costello scored only 36 seconds apart to make it a 10-7 contest.
In the final minutes of regulation, however, Adelphi closed the gap to 10-9 with a chance to tie it. Yet, a one-minute illegal body check penalty assessed to the Panthers' Cory Stavis sealed their fate. On the restart, Beccaris, following an LIU Post timeout, fired the ball into an unguarded cage.
Overall, both squads attempted 40 shots and picked up 25 ground balls. The Pioneers were an impressive 13 of 23 (56.5 percent) on face-offs, 14 of 14 on clears and 5 of 6 on extra-man opportunities.
Between the pipes, graduate goalie T.J. DiCarlo made 10 saves for the Green and Gold. Bennardo turned aside six shots for the Panthers.