May 16, 2012

WD2 Notebook: Championships Set in Louisville

by Mark Macyk | LaxMagazine.com

Nan Mayott had two goals and five assists to lead C.W. Post past Adelphi and into the Division II semifinals, which will be held Thursday in Louisville, Ky. C.W. Post faces Le Moyne and Rollins plays West Chester.
© Lee Weissman

The NCAA Division II women's lacrosse championship moves to Bellarmine University in Louisville, Ky., on Thursday and Saturday. It's part of the 2012 Division II Spring Festival, where six national champions - women's lacrosse, softball, men's and women's golf, and men's and women's tennis, will be crowned.

The festival provides an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of more than 1,000 student athletes. The women's lacrosse participants have thus far played out an unpredictable season.

"D-II's been the most exciting Division this year," Rollins coach Dennis Short said. "It really depends on what team shows up."

Rollins (15-1) was a big reason for that. The Tars reached their first NCAA championship this season as the South's top team and was the last undefeated team standing.

All season top coaches echoed Short's sentiment. There had never been a year like 2012. Top seeds fell in conference tournaments and upsets were seemingly sprung every week.

No conference felt that more than the Northeast-10, where at least five teams looked capable of winning it all.

"I haven't seen the conference so competitive and the division so competitive," said Bentley coach Carissa Medeiros, who also played in the NE-10 at Stonehill. "I'm shocked every single day from various different teams. It's exciting because it keeps us on our toes."

Bentley finished 13-6 and beat Dowling once and New Haven twice before getting bounced by Le Moyne in the NE-10 semifinals.

With close games as the rule, one can't help but wonder what an expanded tournament could bring beyond this season. Teams like Bentley, Stonehill (14-5) and New Haven (13-5) would certainly have made the tournament even more interesting.

Next season the division takes a step toward remedying that problem when the tournament is expanded to include four teams from each region.

With the competition level rising, and new teams arriving each season, even the eight-team format might soon be insufficient. A large tournament could provide automatic qualifiers for sitting-at-home conference champs like the PSAC's Bloomsburg (12-7) and the ECC's Dowling (13-4). Expanding the AQ would also have given a shot for a Cinderella team like Holy Family (14-4), which ended Georgian Court's dominance in the CACC, to emerge.

The competitiveness of the PSAC alone makes an expanded tournament logical. Would the South's fourth spot gone have gone to Lock Haven (11-6)? What about Mercyhurst (13-7), which knocked Lock Haven out in the PSAC semifinals? Or Bloomsburg, which won the whole thing as the six seed?

"[The PSAC]'s definitely more competitive," said Bloombsurg coach Erin Cunnane, who played at IUP. "When I played it was kind of the three, four teams at the top and everyone else kind of just fizzled out. Now on any given day anyone can give anyone else a run."

Bloomsburg ended up doing just that, beating West Chester twice on its way to its first league title since 2003.

And lets not forget that the new South region would extend from Pennsylvania to Florida to Colorado. Regis (9-8), Lindenwood (15-2) and Florida Southern (12-4) should all impact the South playoffs moving forward.

Division II's growth is exemplified by Le Moyne (16-2), which until last year wasn't even in Division II and is now the North region's top seed.

"It speaks to the level of play that is coming into the top Division II level," Le Moyne coach Beth Hewitt said. "There's a ton of parity at the top with the entire top 15."

Hewitt coached the Dolphins in their final seasons at Division I and has seen the benefits of both levels.

"I'm not too surprised," Hewitt said. "I've seen a lot of the flaws in the Division I level. Top kids choosing to go Division I or Division III in women's lacrosse comes to other factors. Women don't have any sort of professional league. They really pick the school that best suits them as a student-athlete. I'm just happy that there's so much more competition, there's always been great players in Division II."

C.W. Post Beats Adelphi Again

Adelphi's record since 2006 is 118-8. Six of those losses have come to C.W. Post, against whom the Panthers are 6-6 during that time.

C.W. Post beat Adelphi for the second time this season, 14-11, on Saturday in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Jackie Sileo, the nation's leading point-scorer, was limited to one goal, but others stepped up. Ashley Olen had five goals and two assists and Nan Mayott had two goals and five assists to lead the Pioneers.

Adelphi led 6-4 midway through the second half but Post tied it before halftime and never trailed after Mayott scored to make it 7-6, 1:13 into the second half.

Post (15-3) advances to face Le Moyne (16-2). The two teams have never met, but in the past two seasons the Pioneers have gone 11-3 against the Northeast-10.

West Chester Takes Down Limestone

West Chester reached the NCAA semifinals for the 10th time in the last 12 years with an 11-7 victory over Limestone. The victory avenges last season's semifinal when Limestone ousted West Chester, 10-9.

Lauren Glassey led the Golden Rams with three goals and one assist and Erin Oczkowski had three goals, but West Chester came up big on faceoffs and defensively.

West Chester (15-3) won six straight draw controls over a 10-minute span in the first half to keep possession away from Limestone, which had not trailed in a game since March 15. Tori Dugan led the Golden Rams with four draw controls and Theresa Giunta had three draw controls.

Proving momentum means nothing, Limestone (17-2) had won its previous 15 games, while West Chester had just lost to Bloomsburg in the PSAC semifinals. Limestone had previously lost only once this season, to Rollins by one goal.

Now the Golden Rams get a shot at top-seeded Rollins, a team they did not play this year. West Chester defeated Rollins, 14-11, last season.

Mark Macyk has covered Division II and III women’s lacrosse for Lacrosse Magazine since 2011. He can be contacted at markmacyk@gmail.com.


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