LIU Post Caps Perfect Year to Claim National Title
|Ashley Olen scored the second of
her three goals with 17:39 left to start a six-goal run that
powered LIU Post to its second straight national
© Scott McCall
OWINGS MILLS, Md. — For about 42 minutes on Sunday, Limestone kept itself in position to claim its first women's lacrosse national championship. The Saints capitalized on their possessions, executed patiently on offense, and kept the high-scoring LIU Post offense in check in the NCAA Division II women's championship game at Stevenson University.
But just when Limestone seemed to be in control, LIU Post rose to the challenge. Perhaps it was the pregame pickle juice that began to kick in for the defending champion Pioneers.
Trailing 5-4 with less than 20 minutes left, senior Ashley Olen scored the second of her three goals with 17:39 remaining to jumpstart a six-goal run that helped LIU Post seize control. By the time junior All-American Jackie Sileo capped the run just over six minutes later with her fourth goal of the game, Post was firmly on the path to a 10-7 win, its second straight NCAA title and fourth crown overall. The fact that Post controlled virtually every draw in the second half didn't hurt its cause, either.
"We all just came together at that point," Sileo said. "We played smart and we took care of the ball and we made each possession count."
LIU Post coach Meghan McNamara had full confidence in her team, which finished 20-0 on the year while becoming the fifth undefeated champion in D-II history. LIU Post won nine of 11 draws in the second half and 15 of 19 in the game.
"Our team knows what it takes to win," McNamara said. "From the time that we took that draw [following Olen's game-tying goal], there was no turning back. The draws control the game and the momentum. We knew all season that a lot of it comes down to having possession."
Jenna Pierro's goal at 16:51 gave the Pioneers a 6-5 lead that they would not relinquish.
"All year long we've had momentum changes," said Limestone coach Scott Tucker. "We had a tough time getting the ball out of our zone [during LIU's run]. We had a few untimely turnovers."
Ultimately, LIU Post was not going to be denied.
"This was the last time we were all going to be on the field together and get a chance to put a ring on our finger," said senior goalie Dominique Mosca, who finished with five saves. "We wanted to do anything and everything possible to make that happen. We were determined."
Evidently, honoring their superstitions — including drinking shots of pickle juice prior to the contest — was also part of LIU's preparation plan.
Sileo finished the game with four goals and two assists, both of which were to Olen during the game-deciding second half run. Sileo finished the year with a school-record 117 assists and concluded her junior season already ranking as the NCAA's all-time Division II leader in assists (280) and points (420).
Olen's three goals pushed her season total to 89 goals and broke her own school record, set last year.
Senior Sylvia Queener paced Limestone (20-2) with a team-high three goals. Two of her early markers helped the Saints build their slim 5-4 advantage. By the time she tallied her third with 5:16 remaining, the game had already swung towards the defending champs.
"We can't describe how we feel right now," Olen said. "It's just an amazing way to end our lacrosse careers. We all played with our hearts, and that was the biggest thing."