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LI Division II & small college lacrosse preview

LIU Post's John Jez looks on during Limestone's

LIU Post's John Jez looks on during Limestone's 12-6 victory over in the Division II national championship game held at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Maryland on May 25, 2014. Credit: Lee S. Weissman

It’s no secret that Long Island is home to some of the best high school talent in the country. Therefore, it shouldn’t be a surprise that local colleges are bringing in that talent and climbing up the national ranks.

No. 5 NYIT, No. 7 LIU Post and No. 8 Adelphi all open the season in the top 10 of the men’s lacrosse Division II coaches’ rankings. All three rosters are also loaded with Long Island power.

“The talent of lacrosse on Long Island is very tough,” LIU Post coach John Jez said, the winner of the last three East Coast Conference championships. “It’s very hard recruiting against all these talented teams and it’s very competitive since we all play each other during the year as well.”

LIU Post, which opened at 2-1 after Saturday’s 21-4 win over visiting American International, returns senior goalkeeper Matt Liantonio. He doesn’t see any reason Post can’t make it four straight championships, with offensive threats like Dylan Harned (Newfield), Steven Liantonio (Miller Place) and defense like Joey Denaro (Oceanside), Anthony Galeotafiore (MacArthur), Ryan Stern (Shoreham-Wading River) and Shane Sweeney (Hicksville).

“The team is young but you come to LIU Post because you want to win and the tradition of winning here, so my expectation this year is to win,” Matt Liantonio said. “Senior, freshman, doesn’t really matter. Just want to win.”

But nothing is guaranteed for LIU Post. NYIT, which opens Feb. 25 at home against Bentley, returns many of its top players from last season after a one-goal loss to LIU Post in the conference championship. Senior midfielder Tom Hughes, who had 35 goals and 20 assists last season, said games with LIU Post are often about “bragging rights.”

The Bears return Will Kistinger (Connetquot), who led the team with 48 goals, Hughes (Comsewogue), George Schultz (Smithtown West) and Matt Chanenchuk (Mt. Sinai). Ian Prate (West Islip) leads the defense.

Molloy, ranked No. 18 and also an ECC member, opened with an 11-9 win at host Wheeling Jesuit Saturday. The Lions return Connor Slane (North Babylon) and Jon Camposa (Syosset) and goalkeeper Ryan Toomey (Hicksville), who played all 544 minutes last season.

Outside of the ECC, Adelphi, which opens at Florida Tech February 16, looks to compete for a Northeast-10 championship. The Panthers return Gordon Purdie Jr., the conference rookie of the year, with 35 goals and 18 assists. He feels more comfortable entering this season — his second collegiate season playing for his father.

“I think sometimes I put more pressure on myself than others but I’ve played for teams that he’s coached before and it’s no different from there either,” Purdie Jr said. “I know what’s expected of me. I know a lot of times a lot more is expected of me.”

Adelphi will rely on transfers such as Massapequa graduates Ian Kirby and Phillip Brady along with returning defender Joseph Catalanotti.

Farmingdale State, in the Division III Skyline Conference, returns Tyler Rifice (Connetquot), Mike Curry (St. Anthony’s), Nick Capone (West Islip) and adds Ryan Wieczorek (West Islip). It opens the season hosting Mitchell February 25 at 1 p.m.

St. Joseph’s, led by former Shoreham-Wading River coach Tom Rotanz in the program’s inaugural season, will be in the Skyline Conference and rely heavily on Dowling transfers, like Scott Reece (Patchogue-Medford), Josh Shaw (Bayport-Blue Point) and Jack Murray (Connetquot). It opens hosting Western Connecticut State March 1 at 7 p.m.

The United States Merchant Marine Academy, making the move from the Landmark Conference to the Skyline Conference, opens at Southern Virginia March 8.

Nassau Community College, the Region XV champion, opens hosting Navy Prep February 25 and will rely on defenders Tom Gallant (Carey), Conor Byrnes (Garden City) and midfielders Tom Moore (South Side) and Matt Arnone (Hicksville).

Suffolk County Community College, which had its season ended by Nassau in the Region XV final, opens at CCBC Essex February 25 and returns key defender Kyle Parks (Center Moriches) and Shane Parks (Center Moriches) and Clercy Gaines (Longwood) on offense.

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