After finishing the regular season and the NE-10 Conference Tournament with an overall record of 15-1, the Adelphi Men’s Lacrosse team is the number two seed in the NCAA Division Two Tournament and they begin their quest for a championship at home on Sunday at 1pm when they take on Le Moyne. The program has won a lot of games and conference titles in recent years, but the goal now is to be the last team standing with a national championship in hand.
“I told the boys that it was really not about the competition this year so much as its about us,” said Head Coach Gordon Purdie. “We can play really good lacrosse. This team is finding an identity and they’re really playing well at the right time. I’ve told them all along that this season is yours. If you play well, you can beat anybody.”
(Head Coach Gordon Purdie photo courtesy of Adelphi University Athletics)
And they’ve beaten just about everybody.
The second seeded Panthers’ only blemish was a 10-6 loss at home to number one seed Mercy College earlier this season. There could be a rematch with them down the road, but right now the focus is on their first step and that’s Le Moyne Sunday at Motamed Field in Garden City. Adelphi and Le Moyne have seen a lot of each other over the last couple of years including a pair of wins this season, a 13-7 victory on April 26th and a 9-2 win in the NE-10 Tournament final on May 7th.
There is clearly a familiarity factor with the opponent.
“We played them again recently for the fifth time in two years,” said Purdie, a legendary player for the New York Saints of the Major Indoor Lacrosse League.
“We know their strengths. To beat them once this year was great. To beat them twice in the convincing way we did was great. Le Moyne is a tremendous team. They know what they’re doing over there.”
How Adelphi’s team was constructed this season is story in of itself as there are 17 players on the Panthers’ roster who transferred from other schools including the top four leading scorers and their starting goalie, all Long Island natives…
Attack: Joseph Duchnowski (New York Tech/Port Washington) 38 goals and 12 assists for 50 points.
(Attackman Joseph Duchnowski photo courtesy of Adelphi University Athletics)
Attack/Midfield: Jason Rebaudo (Molloy/Seaford) 28 goals and 18 assists for 46 points.
Midfield: Kyle Steinbach (Hofstra/Garden City) 32 goals and 11 assists for 43 points.
Attack: Joseph Diggle (Pace/West Islip) 10 goals and 21 assists for 31 points.
Goalie: Dylan Renner (LIU/Roslyn Heights) 16 starts, 7.47 GAA and 153 saves.
The Panthers practiced as a complete team for the first time on March 8th and it didn’t take long for the group to develop some incredible chemistry.
“I’m really proud of the efforts of the young men that have come together this year,” said Purdie who has won 7 conference titles at Adelphi, 3 in the ECC and now 4 in the NE-10.
(Photo courtesy of Adelphi University Athletics)
“It hasn’t been an easy process. As a coaching staff, we’ve tried to unite their talents and let them get out on the field and show us. Having only seen some of these guys for one semester, it’s incredible the way that they’re coming together and uniting and performing.”
The Panthers have waited very patiently for this opportunity to win a national championship.
The COVID-19 pandemic forced an early end to the 2020 season after 3 games and a 1-2 record. Then last year, there was an abbreviated season and a smaller field selected for the tournament so Adelphi was left out in the cold with a record of 7-3.
This season, it’s the moment Adelphi has been waiting for.
“They only took five teams last year because of COVID,” said Purdie. “We didn’t get our chance on that big stage like we are this year.”
The first act on that big stage is Le Moyne who knocked off Saint Anselm 16-8 on Wednesday to punch their ticket to Long Island for Sunday’s game. The Panthers will keep a close eye on Dolphins midfielder Ben McCreary who scored five goals in the opening round win, but it will certainly take a team effort to knock off Le Moyne.
“Every game we play is a challenge,” said Purdie. “We have to go out there and play our best lacrosse to win at this level. We’ve got to go out and play well. We know what’s expected of us.”
What the team expects is to take the first step towards their ultimate goal of the 8th national championship in school history.