Tourney defeat ends inaugural women's lacrosse season

The inaugural season of women's lacrosse at NYIT ended Friday.
The inaugural season of women's lacrosse at NYIT ended Friday.

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — The remarkable inaugural season of NYIT women's lacrosse ended in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday as the sixth-seeded Bears lost to third-seeded LIU Post, 12-5, at Le Moyne College. 

NYIT finished with a 15-4 record.

Buoyed by 14 former members of the defunct Dowling College program, the Bears came within one goal of earning the East Coast Conference regular-season title, peaked at No. 11 in the national coaches poll, produced an 11-game winning streak and earned an NCAA Tournament invitation.

The student-athletes' story of transferring en masse to NYIT also generated significant positive media attention for the university, with profiles in The New York Times and Newsday as well as on WABC, WCBS and News 12 Long Island.

Other members of the team played women's soccer at NYIT and joined the lacrosse squad for the first time since high school to become two-sport athletes and ensure the Bears had enough players to compete during their inaugural season.

In the first game in program history, the Bears won at Georgian Court, 12-7, on Feb. 25.

Senior Erin Smith earned the ECC Defensive Player of the Year award, while eight of her teammates also received league honors. Joining Smith as first-team All-ECC were Katie Meinecke, Alyssa Milano, Karie Znaniecki and Taylor Davide. Brooke Basso, Trisha Serras, Kelly McQuail and Lauren Young earned second-team All-ECC honors.

Then, late this week, Milano was named to the Academic All-District first team and Smith and Znaniecki were named first-team All-District.

Friday's loss marked the ends of the careers of nine seniors: Davide, Vincenza DeCrescenzo, Ashley Firestone, Meinecke, Kayla Reyes, Serras, Smith, Young and Znaniecki.

"They've done a great job for our team in this inaugural season," said coach Kerri Handras, who formerly coached at Dowling, about her seniors. "All nine of them are transfers from Dowling. So for them to come here and help start this program has been an integral part of our success. I'm very proud of them. A lot of them had to change their majors, so that has been extremely difficult. But they're used to doing well in the classroom and making it work on and off the field, which has not been easy."