What we have all been waiting for is finally here: the NCAA DII Men’s Lacrosse post-season is now upon us!
I am sure many of you now know the teams that will be competing this season, but if you don’t know, the tourney features: the C.W. Post Pioneers, Limestone Saints, Mercyhurst Lakers, and the Adelphi Panthers. In this post I will touch upon my thoughts on each team, my predictions for the games, and the eventual Championship. Sorry folks, there will be no NCAA DII expansion talk in this one. I’ll save that for a later date. Of course, Connor Wilson also hit on that topic yesterday. Now on to the actual teams and games!
- Semifinal One -
I have always been a fan of this team out of Gaffney, SC. The biggest reason that I like the Saints is that they SHOW other small schools that are considering lax that they don’t need to be in lax hotbeds, have a large undergraduate student body, or even super amazing facilities to field a very competitive program. Limestone has come a very long way from when they started their program but something has stayed constant through the development of the team, and that is a dedication to EXCELLENCE and WINNING. Ever since I first picked up a lacrosse stick, I had always heard about Limestone, and their amazing run to win the NCAA championships in 2000 and 2002.
This school and its ADs have long had a commitment to winning. Kids want to win rings, and they will go to programs that have a legitimate chance, regardless of whether they are in Gaffney, SC or Grand Junction, CO. It is about establishing an identity that reflects hard work and perfection. Plus, they have some sweet gear. GOTTA LOVE THAT YELLOW!
With that being said, I have a strong feeling the Saints will win this one agains the Adelphi Panthers in Gaffney.
Mr. Shayne Jackson and Mr. Riley Loewen, NCAA DII Lax Assist and Goal leaders, respectively. These two kids have produced 154 points combined. They are an unstoppable offensive force, and they are… YUP, you guessed it… CANADIAN! I guess this pretty much means they can score at will. The junior and sophomore have also helped Limestone become the number one offense in DII. This team is also very, very deep and can run ‘n gun for days on end. So it’s not just Jackson and Loewen. In fact, they play a very exciting brand of lacrosse, and they flourish in transition. The team defense is not too bad either, being ranked 3rd in the country. These boys are FAST, SKILLED, and will not hesitate to pull the trigger. I will be very excited to see them matched up against one of the best in the NE-10, Adelphi.
I am also a very big fan of the Panthers, and what they’re doing in DII lax, for one very big reason: their Aussie connection.
Many a great Aussie player has landed on the ISLAND to play for the Panthers over the years none more well-known than their current Head Coach, Gordon Purdie. Coach Purdie was a beast at Adelphi racking up tons of awards and also helping Adelphi to the D! playoffs a couple of times, while the Panthers were DI. He has also played for an Australian National Team SEVEN TIMES! Coach Purdie has turned this program around and is definitely gunning for a return to greatness. The panthers have won 7 Men’s lax championships in their time but havent won the big game since 2001. This may be the tipping point for the Panthers.
I don’t know all that much about the team except their goalie is a mechanized, ball-saving warrior. He is the number one keeper in all of DII, with a save percentage of 67%, and no, that is not a typo. To have a save percentage of almost 70% in one of the hardest confrences in DII is impressive to say the least. Their team as a whole, from what I hear, is techincally solid… mostly just good players from the island, that can ball HARD. Classic Adelphi.
Limestone edges the Panthers 7-6 in a low scoring affair for the Saints.
Limestone beat LeMoyne this year, and Adelphi lost to the LeMoyne Dolphins, yet I have always been a firm believer that you can’t base how teams will do against each other solely on how they did against a common opponent. It will be a great game showcasing Limestones offensive ability with Adelphi’s raw goalie stopping power. The traveling may make it a little bit harder for the Panthers to pull out the W as well as going from the Islands cooler weather to SC humidity may shake things up a bit.
- Semifinal #2 -
I don’t know if anyone else calls Mercyhurst, “Hurst”, but from now on, this will be my nickname for the team out of Erie, Pennsylvania.
I had a chance to play in Lakerland when I too was just a young one for my collegiate team, and I must say, I fell in love with the school, the facilities, and the location, not to mention the overall atmosphere at games. We got shelacked in the game, yet the Hurst fans cheered us off the field and made us feel welcomed… and I HAVE NEVER had that type of hospitality ANYWHERE. My hats (all my hats) go off to that program, their fans, and the coaching staff for a great job being done out in Erie, PA… just a class act. One other thing I noticed about the Lakers, and mind you this was a year or so back, is that they are BIG!
Their poles were all at or above 6 feet, and they were nasty, very aggressive, and not afraid to come at you. YET, they still played very sound TEAM D and rarerly made mistakes. Their offense was a bit smaller (at least on Attack), but also very quick and not afraid to take it to the rack and take the extra hit. This team is very intelligent and rarely commits mistakes, they are good at moving the ball around and getting diffrent players open to score. Also they have a lot of HEART.
They will be looking for revenge after their loss to CW Post earlier in the year, and will be playing will a lot of intensity. Very pumped they made the tourney after being shisted two year in a row. I think this could really be Hurst’s big chance, and I will be rooting for the Lakers.
What is there to say about this team that hasn’t been said already????? GREAT LONG ISLAND LACROSSE is all I really need to say. A very solid team, with great players, smart coaching, and the seeming ability to win games with sheer will power. If they want to win, they will win.
Right now they are back to back national champs, but the questions is, will they get the threepeat? I dont know!
My honest opinion is that I sort of hope they don’t. Sure, I write about DII lax, but at my core, I’m still just a fan! One of my teammate’s brothers plays for CW Post, and has won two rings already, so I say give another team a chance, boys! Do I really want Post to lose simply because they’ve won? No, but I’d love to see some new blood take the plaque home! Clearly, I’m really looking forward to this game on the Island.
Post’s only loss this season was to Dowling, so this team can lose, but it takes a very special team to beat Post. Hurst came close already and I think the frustration and anger of losing that game will propel the Lakers to a win. Hurst has the goods to beat this team by playing smart lacrosse, which they have been, and taking advantage of their opportunities. That will make this a W for the Lakers. After the last two seasons Hurst has had, they deserve to take this one home for their fans.
4-3 HURST! There, I said it! A hard fought game on the island just like the last one. To the victor go the spoils.
Thoughts On the 2011 National Champs:
Hurst takes the Trophy home after a hard fought battle, 6-5 against Limestone. My predictions mean two close games for the Lakers, but I predict they take home the hardware. Maybe my own slight personal bias is clouding my decision making skills, but I have always been a fan of scrappy teams. And I’m sticking with ‘em. Hurst FTW!