LIU Post's blazing start has run parallel with the ascent of Anthony Berardis and Okie Bernabo.
The Mahopac-bred tandem has been instrumental in two loud victories, a level of lacrosse Post vows to sustain while entertaining aspirations for another NCAA tournament berth.
The intense rushes of excitement, stemming from classic rivalry games on the Section 1 circuit, have translated to the ECAC level. The Pioneers kicked open a frigid March by throttling St. Anselm and Mercy College in twin slayings.
The Pioneers pelted St. Anselm in a 17-5 washout, underscored by fluid ball movement (12 team assists). They doubled up Mercy, 14-7, on March 1.
The league commissioner surely won't be dishing out any trophies following two games. The Pioneers, however, have been on a romp since slipping below the radar of self-proclaimed gurus last season.
Berardis has popped six goals in two starts, shooting the rock at a 6-for-12 clip. Rapidly becoming the beneficiary of de facto quarterback Matty Beccaris (five goals, season-best seven assists) and Chris Cazza (seven goals), Berardis has found his trigger finger itching.
That's the role envisioned for Berardis, since he chose Post despite surfacing as a surefire Division-I prospect. Lakeland-Panas product Connor Mackay, who captured a 2010 Section 1 title over vaunted Yorktown under coach Jim Lindsay, deposited two goals in the drubbing of St. Anselm.
Bernabo, a senior captain, has scooped up four groundballs and triggered a pair of turnovers, neutralizing both foes. Considering the way the offense has possessed the ball and chewed up the clock in massive bites, it has been light work thus far.
Berardis overcame nagging injuries his senior year.
He experienced the euphoria of winning a Sectional championship his junior year, the agony of losing one his senior season.
Following a 21-goal season as a freshman, Berardis has developed a nose for the net while becoming a focal point for hounding defensemen. A hard-and-heavy shot has made the 6-foot-2, 185-pound southpaw a deadly scorer. At Post, Berardis has become more adept with both hands and dodging from up top.
Bernabo, like Berardis, was a multi-sport athlete and an All-Section selection under Dave and Mike Haddeland at Mahopac. At 5-foot-7, Bernabo has always masqueraded size with a hunger for groundballs and a competitive edge.
A workout fiend known for hockey assists (breaking down the defense and whizzing the ball, sparking crisp ball movement and scoring possessions) , Bernabo has shouldered the captain title since he his sophomore season.