April 24, 2009

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Navy Reaches Patriot Final for First Time

from press release

HAMILTON, N.Y. - Riding junior attacker Erin Rawlick's dominant four-goal, three-assist effort, the third-seeded Navy women's lacrosse team (13-4) topped second-seeded Lehigh (11-6), 12-11 on Friday afternoon in the semifinal round of the 2009 Patriot League Women's Lacrosse Tournament at Tyler's Field.

With the victory, the team's seventh in the last eight games, the second-year Midshipmen program advances to its first-ever league championship game and now sits just one win away from punching its ticket into the NCAA Tournament's Field of 16.

Rawlick and her Midshipmen teammates will face the winner of Friday's second semifinal between top-seeded Colgate and No. 4 Bucknell on Sunday for the league crown. Game time is slated for 1:00 pm at Tyler's Field in Hamilton, N.Y.

"I couldn't be prouder of our girls. From start-to-finish, we really put together a terrific 60-minute effort today," said Navy head coach Cindy Timchal. "We've had to battle through a lot of adversity this season. We were dealt a major blow when we lost Katrina (Nietsch) to injury and we really had to fight our way into the postseason at Bucknell. Today, I think it was just a matter of us really believing in ourselves that put us over the hump."

Rawlick came one point shy of equaling a Patriot League Tournament record with a game-high seven points, to go along with five draw controls on the afternoon. She scored three of her four markers in the first 30 minutes, while factoring in on each of the team's six first-half goals (3 g, 3 a). In 17 games this season, she now has a league-best 89 points (56 g, 33 a).

"Every game all season, Erin has just gotten stronger and stronger," added an exuberant Timchal. "Right now, she is at the top of her game, she is playing within herself and really giving all she has for the Navy women's lacrosse program."

"Erin really wants this for her teammates. The goals today happened to come her way, but if you talk to her, she will be the first one to remind you that her success would not be possible without the hardwork of each and everyone of her teammates."

The Rawlick-led Mids came out of the gate strong, finding the back of the cage on each of their first three shots and jumping out to a 3-1 lead at the 23:06 mark.

Navy's junior standout opened the day's scoring with her 50th goal of the season just 1:15 in off a feed from fellow All-Patriot League first-teamer Caitlin Mandrin Hill (Annapolis, Md.). Only 44 seconds later, she would find fellow classmate Mary Ruttum (Annapolis, Md.) for a score to stretch the lead to 2-0.

After Lauren Dykstra, the 2009 Patriot League Offensive Player of the Year, put the Mountain Hawks on the board at 23:54, the Navy women responded with three of the next four tallies to grab a 5-2 edge midway through the period.

Rawlick, the fourth-ranked scorer in the country entering the week, continued to impose her will on second-seeded Lehigh, setting up junior Brittany Amerau (Alexandria, Va.) for a goal just 48 seconds after Dykstra's free-position strike and then completing her 12 hat trick of the season (26th of her career) on a pair of unassisted goals at 16:09 and 14:41 marks, respectively.

Lehigh would dig into the lead with a goal to make it 5-3 at 12:55, but the 5-foot-8 attacker would strike again for the Mids, this time delivering a pretty feed from behind the cage to freshman Dani Vivonetto (Rocky Point, N.Y.), who one-timed it home for her 30th goal of the season at the 4:20 mark. The assist was Rawlick's third of the half, to go along with her three goals.

Dykstra would convert on another eight-meter attempt with 1:39 left in the half to make it a 6-4 game headed into the break.

Lehigh opened the second half with a goal at 29:29 to make it a one-goal game at 6-5. The two sides traded scores over the next three-plus minutes before Ruttum ignited a 3-0 Navy run with her second goal of the day at 24:07.

Freshman Kierstin King scored a goal and had five ground balls, while shadowing Lehigh's top scorer Lauren Dykstra throughout the duration of Friday's semifinal.

Rawlick scored her fourth goal of the game at 19:08 and then Vivonetto completed a solo run to give the Mids a 10-6 advantage with 17:33 remaining.

After a Mountain Hawks goal at the 11:00 mark cut the deficit to 10-7, Navy answered with goals from Madison Bell (Baltimore, Md.) and Lexi Dauernheim (Monterey, Calif.) to stake claim to its biggest lead of the day at 12-7 with 8:38 left in regulation.

Lehigh mounted a furious late-game charge, scoring the first of four unanswered at 7:09 and then adding three goals over a 1:14 span in the closing minutes to make it a 12-11 game with 31 seconds to play.

With the momentum now clearly behind the second-seeded Mountain Hawks, the Mids kept their cool and settled things down after being awarded the day's final draw control and ran out the clock for their first ever Patriot League Tournament victory.

Offensively for the Mids, Vivonetto finished with three points (2 g, 1 a), Ruttum added a pair of goals to go along with three ground balls and a career-high four caused turnovers, while Mandrin Hill finished with two assists to her credit.

Bell, Amerau and freshman Kierstin King (Upperco, Md.) rounded out the Navy goal-scorers on the day, with King also collecting a game-high five ground balls.

In the cage, Navy freshman and second-team all-league goalie Elaina Ponchione (Silver Spring, Md.) came up big once again, making nine saves

On the final statsheet, Navy bested Lehigh in three important categories in which the Mountain Hawks finished as the conference's regular season leaders: ground balls (24-21), draw controls (14-11) and caused turnovers (6-4).

Notes:
*Coming into Friday's contest, Lehigh had won each of the previous two meetings between the two squads, including a 11-7 victory on April 11 in Annapolis.

* The Patriot League Tournament record for points is eight, a mark achieved twice, most recently by American's Sarah Milewski in the 2005 semifinals.

* Navy has now won six-straight games outside of Annapolis, four of which have come against Patriot League foes.

* Rawlick extended her consecutive goal-scoring streak to 34 games (6th-longest active streak in the nation) ... she now has 180 career points (120 g, 60 a)

* Friday's semifinal featured nearly half (12) of the conference's 26 all-league selections, including the league's top-two scorers (Rawlick and Dykstra) and five of the top-10 overall ...


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