The brass ring, once again, was just beyond the reach of LIU Post. The Pioneers lost Saturday in the NCAA Division II field hockey final, falling to Millersville, 1-0, in Louisville, Kentucky.
"It hursts so much to come that close," forward Keliann Margiotta said. "We didn't start as strong as we normally do and that was our downfall."
Olivia Hershey scored in the 46th minute and Millersville (20-3) held on to capture its first NCAA title. Post (18-4) created scoring chances in the second half but was unable to capitalize.
The Pioneers lost in overtime of last year's final and this season was a quest for redemption. Nevertheless, players said, there is pride in having quickly elevated this program to the ranks of the elite. Two years ago, the Pioneers had a sub-.500 record.
"We've gone from having a season end as early as October to competing for titles," senior Lyn-Marie Wilson said. "To me, that's a success and we should be proud of that."
There also is optimism because Post returns most of its core, including Margiotta, the Northeast-10 MVP.
"Looking at the big picture, you can't be ashamed about finishing second," Margiotta said. "But we feel for the seniors and there's more motivation than ever for us to win. 'Third time's the charm' will have to be the new motto."