May 2, 2013

WD2 Notebook: Holy Family Wins Second CACC Title

by Mark Macyk | LaxMagazine.com

 
Holy Family won its second straight CACC title over the weekend, beating both regional top seeds en route to the championship.
© Holy Family

Holy Family University is a small school in northeast Philadelphia, known for producing nurses and teachers. Lately, it’s getting a reputation for producing another valuable commodity: women’s lacrosse championships.

The Tigers won their second-straight Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference title this weekend. They defeated South No. 1 seed and tournament host Georgian Court 14-13 in double overtime in the semifinals, before taking down North No. 1 seed Philadelphia University 12-10 in the title game.

And this is a team that makes an impact on and off the field. Ten of Holy Family's 17 players are nursing majors.

“We all know as coaches that lacrosse is not taking players to the WNBA or the MLL,” said Holy Family coach Elizabeth Weber. “These girls are gonna be nurses or teachers or going into criminal justice. They worked very hard in the classroom and they worked super hard on the field. It’s just little Holy Family. It’s a good feeling.”

Adding to the good feelings for the defending champs was the fact that Philadelphia had defeated Holy Family twice during the regular, once by 11 goals. So despite going into overtime the day before against Georgian Court, Holy Family was up to the task.

“We were completely beat going into Sunday,” Weber said. “Philly U didn’t go into double-overtime the day before. We wanted to use the clock to our advantage. That’s what saved us. My defenders stayed up and played a phenomenal game and my attack converted. They figured it out and played their hearts out.”

The winner against GCU was scored by senior Maria Mattioli with 37 seconds remaining in sudden death. Mattioli the scored what proved to be the game-winner to put HFU ahead 11-9 over Philadelphia. 

Holy Family (13-5) has a young roster, with just three seniors, because of minimal recruiting done before Weber’s arrival, but those three seniors — Mattioli, Stephanie McNesby and Jessica Maloney — have been the core of the two consecutive championships. 

McNesby leads the team in goals (44), assists (16), points (60) and draw controls (79). Maloney has started every game on defense and leads the team in ground balls (47) and caused turnovers (19) and ranks third with 32 draw controls. Mattioli has racked up 33 goals, five assists and 26 ground balls and capped the year off by delivering one of the biggest goals of the season against Georgian Court. All three are captains.

“They’re the best group of kids I’ve really ever coached,” Weber said. “There’s only three of them, they’ve formed this bond together. Because of their hard work, their dedication, wall ball, extra conditioning, all this work behind the scenes, they’re the proof of how we got to where we are. They are three of the most hardworking individuals I’ve ever met.”

The seniors will leave the team in good hands. The Tigers’ second-leading scorer, Brigit LaRose, is a junior, and third-leading scorer, Brianna Lancetta, is a sophomore. Lancetta and LaRose joined McNesby, Mattioli and freshman Paige Settar on the CACC All-Tournament team.

It’s a far cry from the 7-10 team Weber took over before last season. Two years before that, Holy Family went 0-16 in its inaugural season. Weber, who played at Loyola and coached at La Salle and Villanova, didn’t really know what she was getting into, but she was up for the challenge.

“I had no idea what to expect,” Weber said. “Not a single clue. I hadn’t heard of the team, I was really in the Division I realm. I was really excited to take the team to where I knew they could go. We’ve made great strides.”

HFU has increased the difficulty of its schedule in each of the past two seasons. The Tigers visited LIU Post in March and pushed Molloy to overtime. But, even as back-to-back CACC champions, they knew the NCAA tournament wasn’t in their future. Immediate future at least.

“You slowly work your way up to around that Top 20 area,” Weber said. “It can happen. But you have to take it one step at a time.”

Game of Last Week

Northeast-10 Quarterfinals: Stonehill 12, St. Anselm 12

This year St. Anselm has been the patron saint of close calls.

Third-seeded Stonehill trailed by two midway through the second half, but Kayla Green scored to put the Sky Hawks within one and Kelsey Shannahan scored back-to-back goals to tie it and then win it for Stonehill, which avoided an upset at the hand of St. A for the second time in eight days.

What it means for Stonehill: The Sky Hawks remain the North's presumptive fourth playoff team and should stay there unless New Haven pulls off a shocker and wins the NE-10 tournament, in which case the playoff picture will get weird. Stonehill also played St. Anselm in the regular season finale and also needed to score the final three goals of the game to win that one. A loss in either game could have doomed Stonehill’s NCAA hopes. As it is, thanks to their head-to-head win over Dowling, the Sky Hawks should be happy come Sunday.

What it means for Saint Anselm: The Hawks end their season with three losses in four games, but those losses came to Stonehill (twice) and Le Moyne and each game was by one goal. Two weeks ago they lost to Adelphi by two. The Hawks went 0-6 against the other five NE-10 playoff teams, but lost those games by a combined 10 goals. With just four seniors, St. Anselm will be a team to reckon with next year.

Up Next: Stonehill gets second-seeded Adelphi on a neutral field in Syracuse on Friday. Adelphi defeated Stonehill 12-5 in the regular season. Saint Anselm finishes its season at 10-7.

Looking Ahead

PSAC Semifinals: No. 7 West Chester vs. No. 12 Indiana (Pa.) at Lock Haven 

It’s win or go home for these NCAA tournament hopefuls. West Chester handed IUP its biggest loss of the season, 15-8, on April 20, but since then the Crimson Hawks have pushed Lock Haven to the brink and crushed Gannon in back-to-back games. As the PSAC’s second seed, West Chester received a bye into the semifinals.

Simply winning is no guarantee of an NCAA tournament bid for these teams. The latest NCAA Regional Rankings have Pfeiffer ranked fourth in the South. The real reward will be another shot at Lock Haven in the PSAC title game, a victory that should be too much for the committee to ignore.

Game Balls

Jackie Andersen, Dowling: Andersen, a sophomore out of William Floyd (N.Y.) High, had a combined eight goals and eight assists in a pair of wins for the Golden Lions this week over Dominican and Queens College. Dowling, which still has a game remaining against St. Thomas Aquinas, is hoping to win out and grab the North Region’s final NCAA spot, but losses to Stonehill and Merrimack are likely too much to overcome.

Kathryn Campbell, New Haven: Campbell, a sophomore from Mansfield, Mass., had four goals, two assists and four ground balls as New Haven knocked off Bentley 18-14 in the NE-10 quarterfinals on Wednesday. Bentley came in ranked higher in the IWLCA poll, but New Haven finished higher in the NE-10 and hosted the game. It is the second victory over Bentley this season by the Chargers, who were eliminated by Bentley in the playoffs a season ago. The victory moves New Haven into the NE-10 semifinals, where it will meet top-seeded Le Moyne.

Julie Falk, Bloomsburg: Falk, a sophomore from Millersville, Pa., had eight goals, one assist and sixth draw controls as the fifth-seeded Huskies took down fourth-seed Mercyhurst, 17-10, on Tuesday in the PSAC quarterfinals. Mercyhurst had defeated Bloomsburg 11-10 during the regular season. The Huskies will play at top-seeded Lock Haven in the PSAC semifinals on Friday.

Miscellaneous

Rollins ended Florida Southern’s NCAA hopes with an 18-12 victory in Winter Park on Saturday. The Mocs will visit Limestone on Saturday, but even an upset in Gaffney won’t be enough to get them in. Rollins, meanwhile, will be paying close attention to the proceedings in the PSAC. If Lock Haven wins out, it could earn the No. 2 seed, meaning Rollins would have to head north for the first round. Both Rollins and Lock Haven have only lost to Limestone... The Final Four is set for the first-ever Great Lakes Athletic Conference tournament on Friday at Grand Valley State. Notre Dame Ohio will take on the host and top-seeded Lakers, who have yet to lose a GLIAC game. Lake Erie takes on Tiffin in the other semifinal. The championship game will be played on Sunday. 

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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