May 9, 2013

WD3 Notebook: York Weathers Delay, Advances to Second Round

by Mark Macyk | LaxMagazine.com

York junior goalie Ashley Smith worked with current Northwestern keeper Bridget Bianco over the summer in New Jersey.
© York Athletics

Lightning struck early and often on the field for the York College women's lacrosse team on Wednesday. Then lightning literally struck and halftime lasted longer than the intermission at the last Super Bowl, without even a short set from Beyonce to help pass the time.

More than three hours later, the Spartans returned to the field to complete what would become a 13-6 NCAA tournament victory over Washington & Lee. The win advances York to the second round at Salisbury, where it will face Franklin & Marshall on Saturday.

After the game, York coach Jen Muston praised her team for staying focused during the three-hour and five-minute delay. The Spartans (14-4) had waited all year for another chance at their first NCAA tournament win. What was another three hours?

"We've been waiting so long," said senior attacker Leah Schultz. "All of us, it was just in our heads to win. One of the girls said, 'I forgot we even had the delay.' We knew what we had to do."

That was to take care of business against a tournament-tested Washington and Lee (10-10) team that entered on a four-game winning streak. And to not repeat the mistakes of last season, when the then No. 9 Spartans were upset by unranked Montclair St. in their first-ever NCAA tournament game.

They left little doubt this time around. York, which again entered the tournament as the country's ninth-ranked team, got all the goals it would need in the first 15 minutes, jumping out to a 7-0 lead.

"I didn't have words either time but this time it's such a good feeling to have no words," Schultz said. "I was so upset last time. I knew we had to win this game. And I was not losing."

Unsurprisingly, York received big days from players who were on the field for last year's tournament game. Schultz had a game-high five goals and one assists, Erica Mulford had three goals and one assist and CAC leading scorer, Kim Wayson, added three goals.

But a key reason the Spartans are still dancing is a player who was on the bench for last year's tournament loss: junior goalie Ashley Smith. Smith, who made eight saves against W&L, won a three-way race for York's starting goalie job during an early-March trip to Florida this spring.

It was the culmination of a plan put into motion this summer, when Smith, who transferred in from FDU Florham before last season, decided she would be York's next starting goalie.

Smith returned home to Cinnaminson, N.J., and contacted South Jersey power Moorestown High School about finding a goalie trainer. Moorestown offered up a pretty good one: Northwestern goalie Bridget Bianco.

"She's a year younger than me so it's kind of funny that she was training me," Smith said. "But she's so good. She just showed me little tips like stand here, instead of standing there. She showed me some cool stuff. I'm glad I got to work with her a couple of times."

All that extra work paid off. York has lost just three games started by Smith. Two of those were to Salisbury, and everybody lost to Salisbury this season. The only real blip came in a 17-15 loss at Messiah, when York again used all three goalies.

"After that I went to coach and said, 'I don't know what happened, but I'm not losing that spot,'" Smith said. "I'm keeping that spot. From there I moved on. And things have been going really well."

Well is an understatement. Smith was named second team All-CAC and second team IWLCA All-Metro and entered Wednesday's game ranked 16th in Division III with a 7.30 goals against average and 34th with a .494 save percentage.

That's why York remains confident entering Saturday's showdown with Franklin & Marshall, which beat the Spartans, 13-6, in the second game of the season. The Spartans are a different team right now.

"F&M is built up so much," Schultz said. "It makes us want to win and say we're there. That we're at that level. It's exciting."

"Our team is so good," Smith said. "We have that potential to win the championship this year. Like coach said, we haven't completely peaked yet. Right now is the time to do that. If we do that, which I know we can, I know we will. We can beat F&M. We can beat Salisbury. We can be the champions of 2013."

Games of Last Week

Five NCAA tournament newcomers went on the road for first round games on Wednesday. Two came away with upset victories. These are their stories.

No. 17 Geneseo 15, No. 11 Susquehanna 7

For the second-straight season, the SUNYAC saw two teams advance to the second round of the NCAA tournament. Only the NESCAC, which advanced four both seasons, can match that.

Susquehanna scored the first two goals of the game, but Geneseo scored 12 of the next 13 and never looked book, to hand Susquehanna its first loss of the season.

Geneseo's Caroline Buonocore led all players with six goals and Meredith Weber had four goals. Julie Bernatzky topped her career high with an astounding 18 saves, to help the Knights dominate, despite being outshot 37-36. Emma Ehler and Brynn Reid each had two goals for SU.

Geneseo now moves on to a location it knows very well, Cortland, where it will face No. 8 Bowdoin in a second round game. The winner faces either Adrian, or the host Red Dragons, who defeated Geneseo twice this season, most recently 12-5 in the SUNYAC title game.

Augustana 11, Redlands 10

When the majority of the lacrosse world went to sleep, it seemed like Redlands had a second consecutive first round NCAA tournament victory locked up. But Augustana scored seven of the game's final eight goals, and the best D-III team from an island in the Mississippi River upset the best D-III team on the West Coast.

Jacky Craycraft assisted on back-to-back Allie Hoffler goals to give Redlands a 9-4 lead with 13:08 remaining before five Augustana players combined for seven goals to pull off the upset. Christina Letmanski tied it with 1:41 remaining and Emily Handrahan won it with seven seconds remaining for the Vikings, who reached the NCAA tournament as MWLC champion.

It's quite a reversal from Feb. 21, when Augustana headed out west and lost at Redlands, 18-6. The Vikings lost to Occidental two days later and have proceeded to win 17 of 18 since. It is the just the second year in existence for Augustana, which also beat North Central by one in the MWLC title game.

Augustana is the second-westernmost in the NCAA tournament, but the Vikings traveled over 1,800 miles from Rock Island, Ill., to Southern California for this one. The next game is actually a little closer, but quite a bit tougher. Augustana heads to Hartford to face defending NCAA champion Trinity on Saturday.

Looking Ahead

TCNJ vs. Colby (at Trinity)

It's a testament to how tough the top of Division III is this year that teams led by Sharon Pfluger and Karen MacCrate Henning will face off on the second day of the NCAA tournament.

TCNJ's Pfluger has guided the Lions to 11 NCAA Division III championships. Colby's Henning won two Division I titles as a player with Maryland and a Division II title as a coach with C.W. Post in 2001. One team won't make it to Sunday.

TCNJ and Colby both dominated their opening round games. The Lions routed Eastern Connecticut, 20-1. Colby crushed Lasell, 19-3.

This matchup is about as close as they come. The Lions and Mules have no common opponents, but both teams lost just four games, all to Top 10 teams.

Colby's losses came by a combined 14 goals and most of that margin came during an eight-goal loss to Middlebury during the regular season. Colby subsequently fell to Middlebury by one in the NESCAC semifinals.

TCNJ's losses come by a combined 12 goals and half of that came during an 11-5 loss to Salisbury on April 13.

TCNJ has met a NESCAC team in each of the last two NCAA tournaments. The Lions edged Amherst, 8-7, in the second round last season. The season before that, Bowdoin eliminated TCNJ 11-9 in the NCAA semifinals.

Game Balls

Olivia Duncan, Adrian: Duncan, a senior from Orangeville, Ontario, had five goals, including four in a row midway through the first half to put the Bulldogs ahead for good, as Adrian held off Kenyon in the first round of the NCAA tournament, 18-16. Adrian's lead reached nine early in the second half, but Kenyon scored eight straight before Duncan scored on a free position to seal the victory. It was the first NCAA tournament win in three tries for Adrian, which heads to Cortland in the second round, to face the host Red Dragons.

Jen Garavente, TCNJ: Garavente, a junior from Monroe Township, N.J., had a career-high eight goals and two assists as the Lions roared past Eastern Connecticut State, 19-1, in the opening round of the NCAA tournament. The scoring backed a stellar defensive effort by TCNJ, which held WCSU to two shots on goal. TCNJ faces Colby on Saturday at Trinity.

Caroline Hayes, Trinity: Hayes, a sophomore from Greenland, N.H., had five goals and three assists for a career-high eight goals as Trinity won the first game in its title defense, 17-8, over Montclair State. Montclair State was also the site of Trinity's NCAA tournament victory last season. The Bantams will host Augustana on Saturday in a second round game.

Alex Mintz, Colby: Mintz, a junior from Mountain Lakes, N.J., had two goals and six assists as Colby crushed Lasell, 19-3, in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Colby, which is now 6-0 in NCAA openers, will face TCNJ on Saturday at Trinity.

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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