May 14, 2013

Sheehan: A Nod to Milestones; Quarterfinal Weekend Preview

by Sheehan Stanwick Burch | LaxMagazine.com

The winningest season in Stony Brook women's lacrosse history game to an end against top-ranked Maryland on Sunday. Demmianne Cook and the Seawolves' senior class has laid a strong foundation for the future, writes Sheehan Stanwick Burch.

The first two rounds of the Division I women's tournament proved to be very exciting. All of the 26 teams that were selected deserve a big congratulations, but special note needs to be given to some major program milestones:

Stony Brook

Stony Brook reached new heights in 2013 with its winningest season in program history, capping off the year with 17-3 a record. The Seawolves won their first America East Championship and first NCAA game, against Towson in the first round, before falling to Maryland 11-3 in Sunday's second round.

Heading into the matchup with the Terps, the Stony Brook and Maryland offenses were ranked second and third in the nation, respectively. Stony Brook also led the nation in scoring defense, holding teams to 5.3 goals per game. Maryland, however, plays a dramatically tougher schedule, so you have to take these rankings with a grain of salt. Stony Brook's defense was able to keep Maryland in check, holding the Terps to season lows in scoring in both meetings this year (Maryland beat Stony Brook 8-3 on March 17). Even with all the weapons on Stony Brook's attack, with the likes of Demmianne Cook, Janine Hillier and Claire Petersen, the Seawolves could not penetrate the Maryland defense, only managing three goals in each meeting.

The senior class for Stony Brook will be greatly missed next year, but they have laid a foundation for the future.

Navy

Every year Navy gets better and better under the coaching of Cindy Timchal. Navy's senior class won four Patriot League Championships and advanced to the NCAA tournament each year. With its first round win against Monmouth on Friday, the Mids became the first Patriot League team to win a NCAA tournament game. They then played host to Duke in the second round game and, although the stats were pretty even, Duke pulled the upset over the eight seed. Credit must be given to Duke's defense, as it held the Mids leading scorer, senior Jasmine DePomepeo, to only one assist. She shot 0-for-7 on the day, after averaging more than six points per game heading into the contest. The Duke defense also held Navy sophomore Loren Generi scoreless on two shots.

This wasn't the way Navy wanted to end its season, but once again, there's a lot to be proud of.

Quarterfinal Round Preview

Eight teams are a win away from the final four at Villanova and their dream of taking home the NCAA title on Memorial Day weekend. Here's a weekend preview. All times Eastern.

Saturday, May 18

Duke at No. 1 Maryland, Noon

These two teams met in late February and Maryland rolled to a 15-6 victory.

After the double overtime win against Princeton in the first found, Duke head coach Kerstin Kimel said, "It's a shame someone had to lose that game."

"We've had a really up-and-down season," she added. "We're banged up right now, and we talk about being a team and people have to step up in the absence of others, and I think we did a great job at that."

One of the players that Duke is missing is senior leading goal scorer, Makenzie Hommel, who has missed the last three games due to a concussion. Despite the loss, Duke knocked off a talented Navy team, but I don't think they have the depth to take down Maryland.

The key for Maryland to continue its perfect season is to refrain from overlooking teams and to avoid getting frustrated by opponents that try to take the air out of the ball. The good news for Maryland is that if it can dominate the scoreboard early, it will force teams to abandon a stall game plan because they will be forced to play catch up.

Virginia at No. 3 North Carolina, 1 p.m.

After an up-and-down season, Virginia is on a roll and is upset-minded. Fresh off of wins over Penn and Georgetown, this team is primed to match up with North Carolina. In an ACC contest, it is always tough to judge who will prevail because the teams are so familiar with each other, but Virginia seems to be hitting their stride. The earlier season meeting was decided by a goal in North Carolina's favor. I like UNC on Saturday. I think Tewaaraton Award finalist Kara Cannizzarro and crew will be tough for Virginia to stop.

No. 5 Florida at No. 4 Syracuse, 2 p.m.

I am the most excited to watch this game for several reasons. This game looks to be fast paced and high scoring. Both these teams can run and gun. The difference may be the goalies. In Syracuse's second round game against Dartmouth, the goaltending duo of Kelsey Richardson and Alyssa Costantino made only three saves and none in the first half. Dartmouth scored on six of the eight shots it took in the first half. In fairness, Dartmouth was limited to only 13 shots and Syracuse rolled to a 21-8 victory. But Florida goalie Mikey Meagher is tough to beat when she is hot, and she was just named one of the five finalists for the Tewaaraton Award. A win versus Syracuse would certainly help her cause in becoming the first goalkeeper to win the award.

No. 7 Penn State at No. 2 Northwestern, 8 p.m.

Penn State and Northwestern have one thing in common: They are the only teams to have beaten Florida this season. Less than two weeks ago, Penn State and Northwestern faced off in the ALC tournament, and Northwestern survived with a 9-8 overtime victory. Both these teams are good, but have spurts of inconsistent play. My gut tells me to side with Northwestern again in this rematch. You can't underestimate their experience in big games.

CBS Sports Network women's lacrosse analyst and 2001 Tewaaraton Award finalist Sheehan Stanwick Burch provides a column for LaxMagazine.com every Tuesday throughout the Division I women's college season. Follow Sheehan on Twitter @StanwickBurch.


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