March 14, 2013

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WD3 Notebook: Salisbury Sends Early Message

by Mark Macyk | LaxMagazine.com

Bethany Baer had three goals in Salisbury's impressive 13-7 win over Cortland on Wednesday. It was Cortland's most lopsided defeat in two years.

Salisbury had a message to send to the rest of Division III. Like any good superpower, the Sea Gulls followed protocol and went to the home of a Diplomat to deliver it to a rival on neutral ground. 

Franklin & Marshall lived up to its nickname on Wednesday playing host to the biggest game of the young season as No. 2 Salisbury topped No. 3 Cortland 13-7 on a sometimes sunny, sometimes snowy afternoon in Lancaster, Pa. It was Cortland’s most lopsided defeat in two years.

“We showed the NCAA that we deserve that ranking,” said senior Katie Bollhorst, who had two goals and four assist.

If there was any doubt about Salisbury deserving its No. 2 ranking — and there shouldn’t have been; Salisbury’s only loss came by one goal in last year’s championship game — the Sea Gulls erased it. 

After two of the country’s best seniors, Salisbury’s Lauren Feusahrens and Cortland’s Maria Di Fato, traded two goals each in the game's first 10 minutes, Bollhorst scored to give Salisbury a lead it would not relinquish. The Sea Gulls led 9-4 at halftime and didn’t let up. This was learning from past mistakes, Salisbury led Cortland 12-7 in the second half last year before watching the Red Dragons storm back to make it 12-11. 

“We’ve been preparing for Cortland since before the season started,” said Bollhorst. “They play a lot like us. Coach [Jim Nestor] did a great job preparing us.”

It showed. Salisbury outshot Cortland 25-19, won the draws 13-9 and ground balls 12-6. Both goalies put forth tremendous efforts. Salisbury’s Ashton Wheatley made 10 saves and Cortland’s Shauna Hutchinson made six saves.

Said Wheatley: “Our defense came up huge.”

That’s an understatement. It had been exactly two years since Corltand, which had just dropped 15 goals on previously unbeaten Franklin & Marshall, scored seven or fewer goals in a regular season game. Laura Maskell led Salisbury with three turnovers and Meghan Toomey had two turnovers,

Feusahrens finished with five goals and one assist, Brittany Baer had three goals Shelby Nemecek had two goals to lead Salisbury (5-0). Di Fato led Cortland (4-1) with five goals. Erica Geremia added two goals and one assist.

Regular season success is nothing new for Salisbury. The Sea Gulls went undefeated last year, until Trinity beat them by one in the NCAA title game. It was the second-straight season ended with a one-goal loss in the NCAA Tournament. Those would be considered tremendous successes at most other programs, but not enough for Salisbury, which won it all in 2011.

Said Bollhorst: “Losing is a lot more painful than people realize.”

Luckily for the Sea Gulls, it’s not a feeling they experience very often. And they’re making extra efforts to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Players say practices have been more intense this year, with and emphasis and running and conditioning and work done on days off.

Feusahrens said the victory was proof the new strategies were working.

“We love playing Cortland,” Feusahrens said. “This the type of game we want to be a part of, to show our new players what we’ve been working towards.

As always that’s an NCAA title. A goal the Sea Gulls look a lot closer to reaching after Wednesday.

Games of Last Week

TCNJ 16, Messiah 10
Messiah 10, Mary Washington 9 (3OT)

Messiah is in the midst of an absolutely brutal stretch that will have the Falcons battle-tested come league play in the Commonwealth Conference. None of the losses were killer, and Messiah remains a favorite to reach another NCAA tournament, but after losing three straight to Gettysburg, Dickison and TCNJ over a seven day period, it had to be nice to get a ranked win under their belts on Wednesday — especially with the way it played out.

Messiah led by two goals with a minute left, but Mary Washington’s Keller Torrey scored two goals in a span of 14 seconds to tie it up and force the extra frame. When Angela Sperbeck scored on a free position with 1:55 to go in the second three-minute overtime, it looked like Messiah was staring at a fourth straight loss. Lizzy Keeney made sure that wouldn’t happen, scoring off an assist from Gabrielle Hamelryck with eight seconds remaining in the second overtime and then winning the game with a goal less than a minute into the sudden victory period. Cecila Kjellman’s draw control got Messiah possession. 

Kjellman led all players with four goals and Keeney led all players with nine draw controls. Mary Washington’s Kathryn Stiltz made 15 saves.

The big game for Kjellman came on the heels of a five-goal performance in Saturday’s loss to TCNJ (4-0). Kjellman actually scored the first two goals of the game, but TCNJ went on a 7-0 run that bridged the first and second halves to put the game away. Jen Garavente had five goals and one assist and Lauren Pigott had four goals for TCNJ, which beat a ranked opponent for the first time this season.

The Lions, who have outscored their opponents by an average score of 18-5 get a shot at two Top 5 opponents this week: Cortland and Gettysburg.

Looking Ahead

No. 3 Cortland at No. 6 TCNJ, Saturday, 1 p.m.

Cortland (3-1) and TCNJ (4-0) both graduated the top scorers in program history last year. It’s a testament to the coaches, and the winning traditions each program embodies, that they haven’t skipped a beat and will battle this weekend with a Top 5 ranking likely on the line.

The transitions have appeared seamless. At both schools, the lines of succession had long been in place.

Lindsay Abbott left Cortland after piling up 441 points in four years, the fourth-best total in Division III history. Current senior Maria Di Fato was already leaving her mark. She led the team in scoring as a junior, and has picked up right away as a senior. Di Fato leads Cortland with 14 goals in three games this season. The Red Dragons already look to be well-suited with a future star for when Di Fato moves on. Fellow West Genesee (N.Y.) grad Erica Geremia has 10 goals and a team-high 12 assists.

TCNJ is also looking to replace an all-time great, as Leigh Mitchell graduated with 85 assists and 398 points both tops ever for a program that’s won 12 championships. Last year, Mitchell had stepped in after Ali Jaeger left as the all-time goal leader graduated. Again the cycle continues, Alex Spark, whose 76 goals in 2012 ranked fourth in program history, leads the team with 19 goals and eight assists this year.

Cortland beat TCNJ twice last year, by a combined three goals, including 9-7 in the NCAA quarterfinals.

Game Balls

Ellen Halle, Middlebury
Halle led the way with four goals and four assists on Saturday, as the fifth-ranked Panthers dominated a Bates team that pushed Amherst to the edge the next day, by a score of 20-4. Last season the senior from Hereford High School (Md.), had 15 goals and 18 assists in 15 games (two starts) and Middlebury reached the Final Four.

Meg Hawthorne, Centre
Hawthorne scored five of her seven goals in the second half, including the game-winner, as Centre pulled away and held on to defeat Carthage, 13-12, on Sunday. The junior from Cary, N.C., leads the 4-2 Colonels, who have won three straight, with 22 goals.

Lindsey Robinson, Gettysburg
Robinson had a spring break to remember, piling up eight goals and 15 assists as Gettysburg swept its three games at the National Training Center in Clermont, Fla., beating Stevens, Lynchburg and No. 15 Ithaca. The senior captain from Potomac, Md., leads the undefeated Bullets with 23 assists in five games this season.

Miscellaneous

Geneseo (3-1) showed some SUNYAC strength, upsetting No. 14 St. John Fisher, 13-6, on Wednesday. It was the 100th victory of coach Carly Ritchlin’s career. St. John Fisher had just returned from a successful California road trip, where it knocked off Occidental and Redlands... Franklin & Marshall (2-1) lost to Cortland, but the Diplomats moved up one spot in the rankings to No. 8, swapping places with Amherst. Amherst proved how dangerous life in the NESCAC can be. After losing to No. 7 Colby, 10-7, on Saturday, the Lord Jeffs needed a late rally to put away unranked Bates. Priscilla Tyler scored two of her three goals, including the game-winner, during a 3-0, game-ending run for Amherst (1-1)... No. 12 Hamilton put its rough first NESCAC season behind it, opening the year with a pair of victories over No. 18 Tufts (1-1) and Wesleyan (1-2)... Seven different Manhattanville (1-4) players scored as the Valiants defeated Old Westbury, 17-1, on Wednesday, giving coach Courtney Burhans her first-ever victory. Burhans was a team captain as a player at Loyola, and most recently was an assistant at Division I Manhattan, so she only had to add a few more words to her business card.

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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