March 20, 2011

C.W. Post, Lock Haven Expect 'Do-or-Die' Atmosphere

by Mark Macyk | LaxMagazine.com

It's a cliche, but the way NCAA Division II women's lacrosse is structured -- with the top three teams in each region making the tournament -- every game matters. Sunday's showdown between host No. 2 C.W. Post and No. 4 Lock Haven might matter a bit more than most.

The schools are in different regions -- Lock Haven won the South in 2009; Post won the North most recently in 2007 -- but since New York and Pennsylvania touch the game counts as in-region. It will be the first test for both teams, but more than an early-season tuneup.

"It definitely defines the season a little bit," said C.W. Post coach Meghan McNamara. "With games like this it's a do-or-die atmosphere. That only comes from games. It's hard to develop that kind of atmosphere in practice."

It will be the third straight year the two schools meet. Lock Haven (3-0) won 12-11 in overtime last year, after Post rallied back from a 9-2 deficit. Post (2-0) won 18-13 the year before.

"When we originally scheduled them, I knew in my mind they were better than us," said Lock Haven coach Kristen Selvege. "The philosophy his you should always be trying to play the best and beat the best."

C.W. Post won its first two games, 16-5 over Georgian Court and 24-16 over Southern New Hampshire. Lock Haven has rolled past West Virginia Wesleyan 22-2, Pfeiffer 18-6 and Millersville 16-2.

Sunday's result should be closer.

The winner will have a top-five win under its belt. Depending on how things shake out, the loser might not be able to lose another game all year.

"It's crazy because we're hurting each other, but at the same time we're great competition," Selvege said. "If [Post wins], they just knocked off the four team or whatever. If [we win], we just beat the two team. It's very risky. They're a team that can prepare us for everything. I don't know how you don't take that opportunity."

Said McNamara: "If you win it shows you where you are; if you lose it's a stepping stone. I'm hoping we're prepared enough. Obviously we want to win, but it does put a little more pressure on some of the other games. But that's for me to worry about. I won't put that on my players."

Olen has knee surgery, will miss rest of season

C.W. Post will be without midfielder Ashley Olen, who was named to the Tewaaraton Award watch list last week. The juniors underwent surgery on her injured knee Wednesday and will miss the remainder of the season.

"She's so supportive," McNamara said. "She's just a huge part of this team whether she's on the field or not."

Olen led the Pioneers with 61 goals last season.

Others have stepped up for C.W. Post to fill the void. Junior Lauren Spagnoletta followed up a four-goal performance in the opener with a career-high eight against Southern New Hampshire. Freshman Jackie Sileo had seven goals and eight assists in her first two collegiate games and was named the ECC Rookie of the Week.

News and notes

- Selvege said the ceiling for this year's Lock Haven squad could be higher than the team that reached the NCAA final two years ago.

Players who were on the field for that loss to Adelphi have stepped up in the early going. Junior Kayleigh Johnson has 12 points, and seniors Allison Berger and Jamie Uzialko have 12 and 11 points, respectively.

"The juniors and seniors are playing at a much higher level than last year," Selvege said. "As much as I wanted to be there last year, I've never seen my team come back in such great shape. I'm looking at individuals and saying, 'She's a lot better than she was last year.' Some heartbreak can do a lot for you. It pushes you. You get a chip on your shoulder."

- Both McNamara and Selvege reflected on the current top teams in their region.

Said Selvege of No. 3 Limestone (6-0), which beat West Chester last weekend: "They're a great team. A very determined team. Limestone does not want anyone in their way this year."

Lock Haven will be in Limestone's way. The Eagles host Limestone to wrap up the regular season on April 23.

McNamara praised two-time defending champion Adelphi (2-0), but said the team is not unbeatable. The Pioneers were the last team to beat Adelphi, 26-21 last May. Adelphi beat them three weeks later in the NCAA tournament.

Said McNamara: "It's a huge rivalry, and obviously if the roles were reversed, they would be clawing to get at us. We don't want them to get the third one because we want it... Long Island's a hub. We get kids that we love and so do they. We get our style and they get theirs. And that's why both programs succeed."

Post hosts Adelphi on April 22. Adelphi is off until March 23, when it takes on No. 5 Le Moyne, the Panthers' first ranked opponent this season.


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