May 10, 2014

Hart Leads SUNY Geneseo Past Stevenson, 5-4

from press release

GENESEO, N.Y. – SUNY Geneseo junior attack Katey Hart scored three goals, including the game-winning tally with 1:10 remaining in the game to lead the No. 8 Knights to a 5-4 victory over No. 20 Stevenson (Md.) in the second round of the NCAA Division III Women's Lacrosse Tournament, Saturday, at Saratoga Field.

Geneseo (17-2) advances to the round-of-16 where it will face No. 8 Franklin & Marshall, which defeated Catholic, 17-11, in the day's other tournament action. The game will be played next Saturday (May 17) at a site and time to be determined.

Stevenson (13-6) opened the scoring less than three minutes into the game as senior attack Mandy Marston converted a free position shot at 27:34. Geneseo won the ensuing draw control before sophomore midfielder Liz Felix scored on a drive to net 34 seconds later to knot the game, 1-1, at 27:00.

In a first half marred by a combined 22 turnovers, Hart netted the only other goal of the first 30 minutes of play to stake the Knights to a 2-1 halftime lead. The Mustang defense converged on Geneseo's Caroline Buonocore on a free position attempt, but the senior attack was able to dump a pass to an open Hart who converted from close range with 18:07 on the clock.

Hart kicked off the second half with another free position conversion, taking a pass from senior midfielder Emily Haggerty, and scoring on the crease to give the Knights a 3-1 advantage at 27:31. Stevenson would answer less than five minutes later after sophomore attack Tori Wagner looped a shot over Geneseo junior goalie Laura Passamonte and off the cross bar that was called a goal with 22:52 remaining in the half.

Haggerty put the Knights back up by two on a nice low-to-high shot in space over Mustang junior goalie Leanne Bittner's shoulder into the top left corner of the goal to make it a 4-2 game with 10:07 remaining.

With under five minutes left on the clock, Stevenson sophomore attack Kathryn Merrick scored back-to-back goals in less than a two-minute span to tie the game, 4-4. Following a Geneseo turnover, Merrick finished off a free position shot at 4:15, before taking a pass from senior attack Leah Warner in front of the Knights' cage and slipping a shot past Passamonte for the equalizer with 2:24 left in the half.

Haggerty, who won five total draw controls on the afternoon, controlled the ball on ensuing play. Following a Stevenson foul, Hart would make a nice fake and dump the decisive goal over Bittner for what proved to be the game-winner. Haggerty would again win the final draw as the Knights held on for the victory in their first-ever home NCAA Tournament contest.

Haggerty's five wins helped Geneseo build a 9-2 advantage in draw controls, while the Knights out-shot the Mustangs, 25-15, on the afternoon. Bittner was credited with 10 saves, including several big stops that kept Stevenson close the whole game. Passamonte was equally up to the task on numerous occasions, finishing the game with nine stops.

The win marked the second-straight season that Geneseo opened the NCAA Tournament with a victory. The Knights also defeated host Susquehanna, 15-7, in the first round, before falling to Bowdoin, 10-6, in the second round during the program's first-ever NCAA appearance a year ago.

Geneseo Head Coach Carly Ritchlin
"I'm really proud of our players. This is the best the team has ever done and they have made program history. I'm excited we were able to come together and win as a team today. It took every single player to win that game. "

(Re.: Stevenson tying the game in the second half)
"For us, at that point, it was about mental toughness. Something we've stressed all season long is mental toughness. I feel like that is what separates us from other teams. Every game is a battle, but good teams find a way to win. And that was key for us today."

(Re.: Katey Hart's play during the game)
"Katey really stepped up today. We had a little trouble throughout the entire game shooting to score. Stevenson had an athletic, bigger goalie that we had to move the ball quickly on, and we weren't doing that. Katey is one of our more patient shooters and she understood that she really needed to possess the ball and take good, quality shots."

Geneseo junior attack Katey Hart
"I think the most important thing today was getting around their goalie. It was really important to shoot to score and convert the one-on-one opportunities when their defense was slow to slide. I think our offense came down to how well our defense played. Every time they made a stop, it just pumped everyone up. Everything went back to the defense today."

(Re.: making adjustments in a low-scoring game)
"In low-scoring games, it puts more pressure on every shot you take; every shot has to be perfect. Coming into the game, we were focused on getting their goalie to move from high-to-low, but, as the game went on, it seemed like she was a little weaker moving side-to-side. So I started trying to move her that way instead."

Geneseo senior midfielder Emily Haggerty
"On defense, our communication was on-point today. Direct communication was our key going into the game. We didn't really know what to expect of (Stevenson) since we really hadn't seen too much tape on them, but we knew direct communication was going to be key. We were luckily able to knock down some balls and communicate enough to get some turnovers and push the ball up the field. We didn't possess the ball as much as we usually do, but we were able to communicate effectively and get the ball back on the attack and make it count."

(Re.: keys to winning a low-scoring, turnover-filled game)
"Mental toughness has been one of our key strengths all season long. We pride ourselves on being able to capitalize when it counts. Even when there is a turnover, or a call we don't like, we just focus on encouraging each other to get the ball back. That also has been one of our strengths – once we turn the ball over, our only goal is to get it back, immediately."

(Re.: the final two minutes of the game)
"In our defensive huddle, our only goal was to possess the ball for the final minutes of the game. In my head, I knew I had to get that draw control. I was able to place it where I wanted throughout the game; some were fifty-fifty, some I was able to wrap in. Luckily, I was able to place the last draw control exactly where I wanted it to go and was able to reach up and grab it for the final possession."


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