March 13, 2014

WD3 Notes: Western Swing Pays Dividends for Oneonta

by Mark Macyk | LaxMagazine.com | Twitter


Oneonta coach Ali Pollock called senior Casey Sarle a "draw control machine." (Oneonta Athletics)

While most of their upstate New York rivals were suffering through the Polar Vortex this February, the Oneonta women's lacrosse team was at the beach. And Disney Land. And Hollywood Blvd.

They also actually got to play lacrosse outside and defeated two of the West Coast's best lacrosse teams, Redlands and Chapman, on a season-opening road trip that set the tone for an impressive start.

When they returned from California, the Red Dragons pulled the first big upset of the year by shocking RPI -- which was playing in its first game since last year's NCAA quarterfinals -- 6-5, on March 1. They followed that up with double-digit victories over Marywood and Hartwick to open 5-0.

Coach Ali Pollock said the wins were a direct result of confidence gained in California, where the Red Dreagons beat Redlands, 11-10, in overtime, before cutting down Chapman, 21-12.

And Oneonta earned that week in the sunshine. They currently have more wins (five) than outdoor practices (three). If they had to head to Southern California to get outside, so be it.

As Pollock said, "The gym isn't exactly lined for lacrosse."

After entering the season unranked, the Red Dragons currently sit at No. 15 in this week's LM rankings. But, even though they possess the marquee victories to back it up, the sudden national attention comes as a bit of a surprise to the team.

"They're oblivious," Pollock said. "I told them last week when we got our first ranking. They looked at me like, 'How?' I said, 'Because you're good.' They're very modest."

Even after Katie Flannery delivered the winning goal in the one-goal victory RPI, 10 days after Jillian Donodeo delivered the game-winner in the one-goal victory over Redlands -- two teams that recently reached the NCAA tournament, something Oneonta has never done -- there wasn't any big celebration.

"It was just another job done," Pollock said. "I'm super excited. I'm jumping up and down. They're like, 'Yeah, we won.' I think that's great. They're not getting over confident or cocky at all. They just take it one game at a time."

Besides, they've won big games before. Oneonta has defeated Hamilton in each of the past two seasons. But they've never begun a season quite this well.

It all starts on defense where high school teammates, and captains, Marissa Makar and Stefanie Rodriguez provide the first line of defense in front of goalie Amanda Reichert, whose emergence has been a key for the Red Dragons in their comeback victories.

"She really just came out of nowhere," Pollock said. "She's keeping us in those games."

On offense, 14 different Red Dragons -- including Donodeo (eight goals, eight assists), Kiera McNally (25 goals, four assists), Casey Sarle (seven goals, 19 draw controls) and Chelsea Collins (two goals, 18 assists) -- have found the back of the cage for Oneonta this year.

The one game at a time mantra should come in handy, as Oneonta seems to have another huge game every week.The Red Dragons host No. 18 St. John Fisher on Thursday. Then its off to undefeated Farmindale St., and then Hamilton. Beyond that looms the SUNYAC, which currently includes four Top 20 teams, and the other Red Dragon in the room, Cortland, which Oneonta hosts on April 1.

Looking Ahead

No. 2 Trinity (3-0) vs. No. 1 Salisbury (4-0) (at Claremont, Fla.) Tuesday, 10 a.m.

This is about as big as a Spring Break game can get No. 1 vs. No. 2. The last two NCAA champions and the only teams to play in the last two NCAA championships, on a neutral site. Salisbury is the only team to beat Trinity since 2012. Trinity is the only team to beat Salisbury since 2011. Both teams have had some close calls this year - Salisbury has two two-goal wins, and Trinity has won two of its games by three or fewer goals. Needless to say, this will be a good one.

Game Balls

Abby Baigelman, Gettysburg: The sophomore from Larchmont, N.Y., piled up four goals and four assists for a career-high eight points as the Bullets avenged last year’s NCAA tournmaent loss with a 14-9 victory over RPI on Monday.

Kendal Borup, TCNJ: Borup scored seven times, including the tying and winning goals in Saturday’s 16-14, come-from-behind victory over Messiah. The junior from Plainsboro, N.J.then put up six goals and one assist to help the Lions improve to 3-0 in  a 19-2 victory over Rutgers-Camden on Wednesday.

Alli Dudley, Washington College: The freshman out of Francis Scott Key (Md.) High, tied it a school record with seven assists in the Shorewomen’s record-tying 24-14 win over then-nationally ranked Susquehanna on Friday. In Wednesday’s 17-10 victory over St. Lawrence, Dudley added one goal and three assists.

Miscellaneous 

Unbeaten No. 5 Franklin & Marshall (5-0) headed out west and handed Occidental its first loss of the season, 19-5, on Wednesday night. Anastasia Mergner, Ali Kelly and Caroline Krohn each had two goals and one assist for the Diplomats, who should be unbeaten when they visit Salisbury on March 23

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No. 10 Amherst improved to 3-0 with a 9-4 victory over Bowdoin on Saturday. Krista Zsitvay notched four goals for the Lord Jeffs in the victory

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The 17th-ranked Polar Bears (2-2) bounced back to defeat perennial Commonwealth Coast champion Endicott, 15-5, behind four goals from Betsy Sachs

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No. 18 St. John Fisher (3-0), which visits Oneonta on Thursday, continued its move up the rankings with a pair of victories in Puerto Rico

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No. 9 Geneseo just keeps on winning. The Knights defeated RIT, 17-8, on Tuesday and senior Caroline Buonocore tied the program’s all-time scoring record. She’ll get a chance to break the record this week when the Black Knights play two games in Orlando.


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