CHESTER, PA. 5/23/2015 – The Red Dragons of SUNY Cortland will make it to the NCAA Division III NCAA Women’s Lacrosse Championship game where they will meet top seeded and nationally ranked #1 Bantams of Trinity. Cortland advances after defeating the Middlebury College Panthers 19 – 12 in the semifinal round at PPL Park in Chester, PA. Trinity took the second game 11 – 6 over the Franklin & Marshall Diplomats.
National Semifinal Game 1
Cortland 19 Middlebury 12 – The game did not start well for Cortland as Middlebury had possession of the ball for the first ten minutes of the game. All’s well that ends well for Cortland. The draw controls went in the direction of the Panthers early. Once Cortland began to gain control, the offense flowed.
“Draws win games,” said Cortland Coach Kelly Lickert-Orr. “You get the ball on the offensive end and take care of business, and put it in the back of the net. And we did that.”
Middlebury won the first 4 draws of the game. Cortland ended the first half by winning 10 of the next 11 draws. For the game the Red Dragons had a 21 – 12 advantage in that statistic led by midfielder Emma Hayes-Hurley who won 9 draw controls. She adjusted to the start of the game, got the ball to the Cortland offensive players, and moved the game in the direction of Cortland.
“They were definitely winning it and capitalized on everything,” Hayes-Hurley said. “I think I started pushing harder and making sure that Tara (Monaghan) was boxing her goal out while she was in front of me. Once I could finally figure it out to get it in her direction, that’s when we started winning again.”
At the same time Cortland erased a 6 – 5 deficit with a 10 – 1 run over the halves to take control of the game. Midfielder Ashley Gentile led the way with 3 goals in that stretch. For the game Gentile found the back of the net 5 times to raise her total to 78 this season. Attackers Hannah Elmer and Kristen Ohberg each scored twice during the run, and each player had 4 goals and 2 assists in the game.
Despite being down the Panthers got 4 straight goals from attacker Alli Sciarretta, all assisted by fellow attacker Mary O’Connell to get to within 15 – 11 at the 6:37 mark, but would get no closer.
“Our strategy going into the game was to possess the ball long enough to get a really good look at the goal,” said Middelbury Coach Missy Foote. “That is exactly what we did. We were sticking to the game plan, but then we did not get the draw. We could not possess the ball. When we did possess, we scored, and on the exact same play four times in a row at the end of the game. We just needed to get more possessions.”
Laurel Pascal also had 4 goals for the Panthers.
The Red Dragons took the next step and Lickert-Orr said it is now time to concentrate on the task at hand.
“We have an idea of what we’re getting into,” Lickert-Orr said. “Now, it’s just getting refocused. Regroup and refocus.”
National Semifinal Game # 2
Trinity 11 Franklin & Marshall 6 – Early in the game F & M put the pressure on and took a 4 – 2. The Diplomats felt the time was right for the upset. Trinity got settled in. The Bantams turned up the defense which got the offense going. With a balanced effort Trinity moves on to the title tilt via an 11 – 6 victory.
“It was a confidence builder for us,” said Trinity Coach Katy Dissinger about the effort especially on defense. “We talk a lot about our offense and defense feeding off each other. It’s really nice that they play off of each other very well.”
Defensively, the Bantams held the Diplomats to their lowest goal total this season. Also, they held F & M scoreless for over 20 minutes of play. On the other side Trinity took control behind a 9 – 0 run leading to a 10 – 4 lead with 7:32 remaining in the game.
After giving up 4 straight goals Trinity dug in. The key goal game with 1.7 seconds before halftime when Bantam attacker Abby McInerney got the ball to cross the goal line tying the game at 4. Midfielder Caroline Hayes got the assist.
“There were a few crazy turnovers before that play happened and I think that our entire team just had this moment of trying to get the ball in the back of the net before we got off the field, and we were able to make a couple caused turnovers and then take it to net,” said Hayes. “I saw Abby [McInerney] and she luckily put the shot in and that was huge going into halftime at an even score so we could finally catch our breath. That’s a huge game-changing play right there.”
“We always work on wanting to score last in the first half and first in the second, and they did both,” said Franklin & Marshall Coach Mike Faith about the late goal. “That was definitely a hard one to swallow because we had the ball and we were man-down, and we were clearing it and they forced the turnover so, it was unfortunate. I would have liked to go into the half 4-3, but it was “0-0″ at halftime.”
Trinity scored the next 7 goals to decide the contest.
Attacker Clare Lyne paced the Bantams with 3 goals. McInerney and attacker Abby McQuillan scored two goals each. Hayes registered a goal and an assist.
For the Diplomats attacker Brittney Jorgenson and Gabby Frank contributed two goals apiece. Attacker Paige Moriarty had a goal and two assists.
Trinity and Cortland will square off for the national championship. The teams are not strangers to one another in Final Four play. It is a title both teams want. Trinity was the national runner-up the last two seasons. They want the championship.
“This is like my Super Bowl,” Hayes said. “It is the last game I will play as a college athlete. It is something that is special to me and the seniors. The entire team has felt this overwhelming sense of opportunity. From day one we said this is where we want to be. We have this opportunity and now it’s time to finish it. We’re excited we have the opportunity to play.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian