05/16/2019 2:30 PM
Team 91 alum Christina Ferrara leads Adelphi into the Division II Final Four.
Photo courtesy of Adelphi Athletics.
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There has never been a more successful program at the NCAA Division II level than Adelphi.
The Panthers have won eight national championships since 2001, double that of its nearest competitor in LIU-Post, and they've won five of those titles this decade alone. It makes sense, then, that Adelphi's success was a major selling point for Christina Ferrara when the Team 91 alum by way of Rocky Point was getting recruited.
"The program is so well-renown and it does always have the chance to make runs like this," Ferrara said. "It definitely drove me toward this"
As is the custom, the Panthers are back in the Final Four, which gets underway Friday morning at 11 against Regis (Colo.) in Allandale (Mich.). Adelphi boasts a 17-3 record this year, great for anyone, but it's in a rare position where it might be a bit of an underdog. The Panthers lost in the first round of the Northeast-10 Conference championship to Merrimack in a stunner, but bounced back by hammeting Post, 16-3, in the first round of the NCAA tournament before downing top-ranked Le Moyne, 12-11. An 8-7 loss to the Dolphins, last year's national champions, on April 24 gave the Panthers a little bit of extra motivation last weekend.
"It's very crazy and so awesome," Ferrara said. "We kept our composure and never got rattled, and it ended up being a great win over Le Moyne. We were extremely excited and confident to show ourselves who we knew we could be all season, and everyone played their best game up to that point. Obviously, the rivalry's there and you know you're going to get from both teams and anything can happen in both games. We grew from the loss and knew it wasn't our best game and that we still had a lot to show, and it definitely gave us a little extra fire."
Ferrara had an assist and a ground ball against Post and added a goal and four draw controls in the win over Le Moyne. The sophomore ranks second on the team in assists (32) and draw controls (55) and is fifth on the squad in points (58). More importantly, she's a crucial cog in the Adelphi lineup, and without her, the Panthers wouldn't be in the position to potentially add to their country-best championship haul.
"We expect to be good, but we work for it and it's not easy nor is it given to us," Ferrara said. "Without the hard work and the time that we put in every day, we won't get there. I've also become more comfortable and more confident, and the teammates around me are just incredible. They make me look good, and I just hope to able to help everyone else. Winning a national championship would just be incredible and a dream come true."
If anything, the Merrimack loss was a blessing in disguise for the Panthers. It showed them that they couldn't take look past anyone, and that winning a national championship won't come easily. Regis is a perfect 20-0, and tagging the Rangers with their first loss won't be an easy task. If Adelphi can do that, it will take on the winner of the Queens (N.C.) and West Chester (Pa.) matchup on Sunday at noon.
"Losing to Merrimack showed us that we can't take this for granted," Ferrara said. "We were much better than we'd been showing, and it gave us an extra edge to show who we really are. We want it that much more and we've got to grind it out and do everything in our power to get where we want to be."
Where they want to be is holding a big trophy on Sunday.