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Stephanie Ruhle's two goals lead LIU Post field hockey to NCAA D-II Final Four

LIU Post forward Stephanie Ruhle, right, gets congratulated

LIU Post forward Stephanie Ruhle, right, gets congratulated by No. 26 Taylor Bay Sutton and teammates after scoring a goal in the first half of the NCAA Division II field hockey quarterfinals against Adelphi University at LIU Post on Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2014. Credit: James Escher

There's an international flair to the LIU Post field hockey team. A medley of foreigners, from British to Bajan, have come together on this roster, fusing styles and cultures. It's immediately evident when Dani Crouse, in a thick South African accent, is heard reciting hip-hop lyrics.

Stephanie Ruhle also is enjoying life after her move. Umm . . . about 30 yards up from her old position. But thanks in large part to that transition, the Pioneers will again be traveling.

Ruhle, a defender-turned-forward, scored twice as host Post beat Adelphi, 3-1, Tuesday in an NCAA Division II quarterfinal. The Pioneers, last season's championship runner-up, face Stonehill on Dec. 4 in Louisville, Kentucky, in the Final Four.

"It's awesome," said Ruhle, a New Jersey native. "I love being able to score and this is all really exciting."

The senior had the first two goals for Post (17-3), her first coming 10 minutes in. Lyn-Marie Wilson (Barbados) sent a pass to Ruhle on the left post and she lashed in a reverse sweep. Ruhle added another 8:20 before halftime, redirecting a shot from Kaycee Zelkovsky for her ninth tally of the season.

The decision to change Ruhle's position was simple, Pioneers coach Raenee Savin said: "Because she's got a rocket of a shot!" Added goalie Ericka Parks: "I'm terrified of her shots in practice." Well, it's even more unpleasant for the opposition.

Olivia Nowukunski scored for Adelphi with 27:21 remaining and the Panthers (14-7) controlled possession for most of the second half, but Post never relinquished the lead. Zelkovsky made it 3-1 with 2:34 left.

"It's disappointing to lose, but getting this far was a huge step for our program," midfielder Arielle Theofield said of Adelphi, which made its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1981.

The Pioneers cleared seven second-half penalty corners and Parks twice left her line to stop fast breaks. Crouse, Steph Mocerino, Abi Sawyer (England) and Grace Ilias (Canada) each forced turnovers within the circle and held Adelphi's top scorers, Molly Cuevas and Mary Plotas, to one shot on goal.

"We did a great job of sticking on them and limiting the number of times they could get the ball," said Crouse, the Northeast-10 defensive player of the year.

The Pioneers' challenge now is facing a Stonehill team it has lost to twice this season, including 1-0 last week in the NE-10 final. The team, Savin said, also is driven by last year's loss in the NCAA final.

"We've had this in mind all year," she said. "We're excited to be headed back, but there's extra motivation."

New York Sports