March 28, 2013

WD2 Notebook: Bentley on Brink of Big Success

by Mark Macyk LaxMagazine.com

Senior Taylor Bastien leads all Bentley scorers with 21 points this season.
© Bentley

Last summer, fresh off the most successful season of her five-year tenure, Bentley coach Carissa Medeiros started to think about the future. Bentley was bringing in its best recruiting class ever and Medeiros knew it.

"I remember thinking, 'How in the heck did I pull this off,'" Medeiros said. "I don't know. It just sort of happened."

The Falcons currently field five freshmen from high schools with names people know: Our Lady of Good Counsel (Md.), Scarborough (Maine), Pittsford (N.Y.), Irodonequoit (N.Y.) and Long Meadow (Mass.). They all see playing time, making depth Bentley's biggest strength.

How did it happen? Simple. These were girls from winning programs. They were ready to join a winning collegiate program. And that's what Bentley is. It's the culmination of a process that began five years ago, when Medeiros recruited the current seniors.

Earlier this month, Bentley (4-1) became the only Northeast-10 team other than Adelphi to ever beat Le Moyne. One year after establishing themselves as a Top 10 team, the Falcons have NCAA tournament aspirations. And with a deep roster, bookended by Medeiros' first and most recent recruiting classes, those dreams are realistic.

It started in the first game of the season, when they lost to Rollins by one in overtime. The Falcons led late in that game. Two games later, they also had a late lead, before Le Moyne rallied to force overtime. This time Bentley put it away in the extra frame.

After an overtime loss and an overtime win, the next logical step was to win a close game before it could get to overtime. Bentley did just that, defeating Molloy, 13-12, on Saturday when Allie Bastien scored with one second remaining in regulation.

That's called progress.

"Part of what we talked about in the last timeout was, 'We are winning this game outright, period,'" Medeiros said. "'We don't want to lose like this, we don't want to go back to overtime. The Le Moyne win means nothing if we lose this game.'"

In the hyper-competitive world of Division II, it doesn't matter if you defeated Le Moyne on Sunday if you lose to Molloy the next Saturday.

And, in truth, Bentley probably shouldn't have needed a last-second goal to beat Molloy. The Lions are a very good, up-and-coming team from the ECC, but one that Bentley beat by seven last season and one that won't be considered come playoff time.

"That was sort of a wakeup call," Medeiros said. "Molloy has always been a rival of ours, full of Long Island talent, scrappy, full of fight. They learned a huge lesson about not overlooking teams."

The message was received. The Falcons shook off a sluggish start and defeated Saint Michael's by nine on Tuesday. But it's not like they would have had many more opportunities to overlook an opponent this year.

Bentley's schedule is one of the toughest in the NCAA. They'll host Dowling on Thursday, then face the rest of their NE-10 gauntlet before wrapping up the season with defending NCAA champion, LIU Post.

It's a dangerous schedule, but one with a potential reward waiting. Bentley controls its NCAA tournament destiny. If they win the games their supposed to win, and sprinkle in another upset or two along the way, they'll be dancing come May.

Five seasons after winning seven games, the Falcons are well-suited to the task.

Bastien, the hero against Molloy, leads the team with 11 assists and 21 points. She's one of several upperclassmen who lead Bentley's high attack. Graduate student Megan Wiggins leads the team with 11 goals. Senior Cori Geiger has chipped in five goals and three assists.

Nipping at the seniors heels on the scoring list is freshman Tori Cerny, who has six goals and six assists off the bench this year. All five of Bentley's freshmen have seen playing time this year.

The youngest and oldest players bookend the team, but there's a great bunch in between. Junior Chelsea Larivee has nine goals and three assists and classmate Carolyn Kynoch leads the team with 17 draw controls.

And junior goalie Ally Dorman has emerged as the team's steadying presence in the cage. It was Dorman's closing-second save that preserved the victory over Le Moyne.

Medeiros, who was an All-American and NCAA champion goalie at Stonehill, knew she had something great in Dorman when she recruited her. But as a freshman, two years ago, Dorman was a bit awestruck by the pace of the college game. She finally got in during a game that year against C.W. Post, with Bentley already behind by nine goals. The Falcons still lost, making up nine goals against Post is practically impossible, but Dorman settled her team and kept things from getting worse. She rolled from there. Dorman recently lost 25 pounds and has emerged as one of the team's most athletic players. She went from the slowest miler, to leading the middle of the pack.

"She's not quite a midfielder but she's certainly up there," Medeiros said. "She made a conscious effort. She's so smart and so driven, I can't sing her praises enough. Being a goalie myself, I know how important it is to a team to know a goalie has your back. And Allie has our back. She's the backbone of our team."

A solid backbone supporting talented bookends. It all adds up to a team on the brink.

"We've really built up this season," Medeiros sad. "Starting even from the fall, starting last year after we lost to Le Moyne [in the NE-10 tournament]. As soon as last season ended, this new season began."

Game of Last Week

LIU Post 9, Bloomsburg 7

LIU Post's offense had looked unstoppable in the six games leading up to this one. The defending champs had not scored fewer than 16 goals in a game and topped 20 goals three times.

It looked like more of the same when the Pioneers jumped out to a 6-0 lead in the first 10 minutes, but Bloomsburg dug in and gave LIU Post its first scare of the season. Post led 7-1 late in the first half and 8-3 at halftime, but the Huskies held the champs to one goal in the second half. There may not be any moral victories, but in a season where LIU has looked unbeatable, Bloomsburg should walk away happy.

Ashley Olen (four goals, one assist) and Jackie Sileo (three goals, one assist) put up points, but were still held below their averages. While Post was held to only 17 shots, they still outshot Bloomsburg 17-15 and won the draw control battle, 11-6.

Bloomsburg was unable to build on its success against LIU Post as West Chester downed the Huskies 15-5 on Wednesday, avenging two losses from last season.

LIU Post gets back to it on April 3 at Mercy.

Looking Ahead

No. 10 Stonehill at No. 5 Adelphi, Saturday

Adelphi is 8-0 and, aside from a five-goal victory over Molloy on March 1, hasn't won a game by fewer than 13 goals. But Stonehill is its first ranked opponent, and far and away the toughest foe the Panthers have faced this year.

Stonehill opened its season with losses at Rollins and Florida Southern. The Skyhawks have since bounced back with five straight wins. The game kicks off a brutal 10-day stretch for Stonehill, in which it will face Adelphi, Southern New Hampshire and Bentley. Later in the month they'll host ECC favorites LIU Post and Dowling.

If Adelphi wins this game it moves one step closer to its goal of the NCAA tournament, but Bentley and Le Moyne still loom as potential must-wins on the schedule. Adelphi's toughest non-league opponent is Lindenwood, so winning the NE-10 is an imperative.

Stonehill can more easily recover from a loss because it has non-league games against Dowling and LIU Post coming in April.

Adelphi beat Stonehill twice last season, the second victory coming 12-11, in overtime in the NE-10 Tournament.

Game Balls

Caitlin Chase, Florida Southern: On a day when goalie Katie Hammerer also deserved kudos for tallying 19 saves, Chase powered the offense, breaking Florida Southern's assist record by pairing seven helpers with three goals as the No. 12 Mocs (9-1) took down Merrimack 19-10. As of Tuesday, the sophomore from Mount Laurel, N.J., ranked fifth in Division II with 35 assists.

Meredith Howe, Lake Erie: Howe, a senior out of Jamesville-Dewitt (N.Y.) High School, delivered the game-winner with 2:59 remaining as the Storm defeated Bridgeport 9-8 on Friday. She followed that up with six goals and five assists in a 20-8 victory over Post on Sunday. Lake Erie (5-2), which previously competed in the ECC, has emerged as an early favorite in the new Great Lakes Conference. On April 3, the Storm opens conference play with a big test against Notre Dame (Ohio), which is currently 4-1.

Ellie Morin, Southern New Hampshire: Morin scored three goals, including an important insurance goal late in the second half as the Penmen handed Assumption its second loss, 13-11, on Sunday. The junior from Scarborough, Maine, also scored five goals and one assist in Thursday's win over Saint Michael's. Southern New Hampshire (5-3, 4-0), has opened its NE-10 slate with four straight wins.

Miscellaneous

First-year program Grand Valley State, which was picked first in the Great Lakes preseason coaches' poll, took a trip to New York this week. The Lakers lost to Dowling and Adelphi, but on the bright side they met Al Roker. GVSU was in the crowd at the Today Show where they told Roker where the school is located and held up signs displaying their colors and paid tribute to Seton Hill... No. 3 Limestone (9-1) handed No. 11 Lock Haven (4-1) its first loss of the season, 11-7, on Sunday. The Saints now embark on the bulk of their Conference Carolinas season with Queens and Mount Olive this week as a buildup to the April 6 showdown with Pfeiffer (12-0), which currently has the best record in Division II... No. 9 Le Moyne (3-2) recovered from its conference-opening loss to Bentley in a big way, crushing American International, 19-1, on Tuesday. Southern New Hampshire is up next... No. 15 Mercyhurst (6-1) has bounced back from an early-season loss to Limestone with five straight wins, most recently wrecking Slippery Rock, 20-10, on Tuesday. A big PSAC showdown with Bloomsburg looms on Saturday... The two best teams in the WILA, Lindenwood (7-0) and Regis (6-3), will meet on Friday in Denver. Lindenwood beat Regis twice last season, first in overtime by one and then by three goals. They'll face off again in the middle of April.

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


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