Saturday’s national championship started like so many of Adelphi’s games over the last three seasons: with the Panthers in control.
The game’s ending, though, was anything but familiar.
Florida Southern scored five consecutive goals to start the second half, erasing a three-goal halftime deficit. Though the Panthers pulled within a goal late, Adelphi fell, 8-7, in the Division II women’s lacrosse championship in Denver. The loss, only Adelphi’s second in its last 66 games, ended its two-year reign as national champions and snapped a 28-game winning streak.
“It was a great year,” Panthers coach Pat McCabe said. “I’m proud. I’m disappointed for them. Florida Southern earned that win. No one’s giving you anything, especially not on the lacrosse field.”
No. 1-seeded Adelphi (21-1) took a 6-3 lead into halftime, thanks to two goals from Emily Keesling and scores from Michele Scannell (Smithtown East), Rachel O’Brien (Bayport-Blue Point), Beth Ann Pierce and Jacqueline Jahelka (Garden City).
The Panthers controlled possession early in the second half, as well, taking the first four shots of the period, but three were denied by goalie Taylor Gillis (eight saves), and the other was blocked.
Florida Southern (19-3), the other No. 1 seed in the 12-team field, responded with a pair of free-position goals at the 23:38 and 22:04 marks, tied the game with 18:47 left and went ahead about a minute later. It was only the second time Adelphi trailed in the second half this season.
Emily Santoli (Kings Park) scored to double Florida Southern’s lead with 8:35 left, before Kate Beier (West Islip) scored with 7:22 left to keep Adelphi in the game.
The Panthers could only muster two more shot attempts before the final whistle, as O’Brien hit the crossbar with 5:09 left and had a shot that was blocked at the 2:09 mark.
It was only the second time this season that the Panthers were held under 10 points, and was a stark contrast to how they had begun the tournament. They won their previous two games by a combined 21 goals, opening the tournament with a 15-3 win over No. 4-seeded Dowling prior to beating No. 2 Le Moyne, 13-4, in Thursday’s semifinal.
On Saturday, Adelphi took 21 shots, but only put 15 on goal, compared with Florida Southern, which put 11 of its 12 shots on frame.
“We didn’t shoot great. We were not great offensively today,” McCabe said. “It was not an energetic performance. [Florida Southern] brought the energy to the field. It’s a tough way to go out, but you have to tip your hat to your opponent.”