Long Island University Post junior midfielder Connor Drost entered the very first East Coast Conference men’s lacrosse tournament with rather ordinary numbers this season.
He left the competition as an impact player, thanks to a pair of extraordinary performances.
The former Shoreham-Wading River High School standout stepped up his game and then some, registering consecutive hat tricks to help lift the Pioneers to the ECC title and into the NCAA Division II Tournament. Post will play at LeMoyne College in a quarterfinal game on Saturday.
“It’s a step forward,” said Drost, who was named the most outstanding player of the tournament. “The bigger goal is getting into the NCAAs and hopefully going further. We beat two quality teams.”
During the regular season the 5-foot-8, 165-pound Drost posted decent numbers (15 goals and 31 assists in 13 games) before exploding twice in the semifinals and the final.
Last Wednesday he scored three goals and set up two others in a 9-6 semifinal victory over New York Tech. On Saturday, he tallied two of his three goals in the second half in a thrilling 10-9 triumph over Dowling College at Hickox Field in Upper Brookville.
“Looking around the locker room, all of the guys are stepping up,” Drost said. “I looked to myself and I realized it was my turn. Everyone around me was playing great. I figured I had to step up as well.”
Drost stepped it up and then some on Saturday.
“I think Connor played great,” attackman Matty Beccaris said. “Even on the defensive part, he worked his butt off. It’s not exactly about individuals, it’s about a team effort. Overall, on the offense and defense, we have a great set of guys and an incredible amount of talent spread across the field.”
Every one of Drost’s goals was a key one for Post. His first goal was an unassisted effort, which cut Post’s deficit to 4-3 at 12 minutes 32 seconds of the second quarter.
He then added two third-period goals, scoring on a bounce shot to give the Pioneers a 6-5 lead at 5:57 and then firing home a 15-yard bullet for a 7-6 advantage at 9:36.
“Connor comes from a great program,” Post coach John Jez said. “He plays very, very hard. When push comes to shove and things are on the line, he brings his play up to the next level.”
Dowling eventually tied the score before Beccaris broke a 10-10 deadlock with 2:07 remaining, giving Drost another opportunity to bring his play up to the next level when push comes to shove on Saturday.