By Michael Otero
Co-Editor in Chief
It came down to the wire for the no. 8 ranked LIU Post men’s lacrosse team on Saturday, April 23, but they managed to pull out a gritty 10-9 victory over no. 13 Mercy College in an East Coast Conference battle at Bethpage Federal Credit Union Stadium in Brookville, N.Y.
Senior attackman Matt Bellando scored the go-ahead and eventual game-winning goal with 99 seconds left to secure the win. Assisting on the game winning tally was graduate midfielder Jeremy Morgan.
Well before Bellando rounded out the scoring, he started it. The senior netted a goal at the 14:16 mark of the first period to open up what would be a combined 19 goal day for both sides. That goal started a mini Pioneer run which widened to 4-1 when Bellando found the back of the cage for his second goal of the contest. After the Pioneers and Mavericks traded goals, senior attackman Matty Beccaris got in on the action, doing the work himself; scoring an unassisted goal to make it 6-2 in favor of the Pioneers.
After the Mavericks regrouped and got back in the flow of the game, they faced an 8-5 disadvantage at halftime. Although they were down, they were not out. The Mavericks battled back, eventually tying the contest at nine apiece. The game-tying goal came curtesy of junior midfielder Nick Wilcox, who notched his seventeenth goal of the season to go along with three first half assists.
During the Maverick comeback, the Pioneers were held to just one goal and they committed six crucial turnovers. After Wilcox’s unassisted tally which tied the game, the stage was set for Bellando to shine. And shine he did.
LIU Head Coach John Jez said after the game that his team held in and “dug deep.” He gave credit to the Mercy goaltender and defense that played well in the second half, but also noted that “our defense made the key stops when they had to.”
No surprise, but Bellando was the leading-scorer for both teams with five points (4G, 1A), while Beccaris added four points (3G, 1A) to help out the Pioneer cause as well. In addition to the senior attackmen, sophomore midfielder Dylan Harned also chipped in with a two goal performance.
In the cage, junior goal keeper Matthew Liantonio made six saves for the Pioneers. As a team, the Pioneers outshoot the Mavericks at a 2:1 ratio and scooped up ground balls at a higher and more efficient rate. The Pioneers also had the upper hand in face-offs, winning 13 compared to just eight for the Mavericks.
With the win, the Pioneers improved to 9-3 on the season and 6-1 in conference play. The Pioneers have now won five games in a row and haven’t lost in over a month. The Mercy College Mavericks dropped to 9-4 and are now 5-3 in conference play.
Jez and his team finish up their regular season on Saturday, April 30, when they host the University of the District of Columbia. “They are a talented team that plays hard all the time,” said Jez. “It’ll be a tough one.” In their matchup one year prior, the Pioneers came out victorious 13-5. The ECC matchup is scheduled to start at 2 p.m.