April 23, 2014

WD1 Notebook: Tigers Claw Back; Tewaaraton Thoughts

By Megan Schneider | LaxMagazine.com | Twitter

A 1-3 start had Princeton on the ropes, but a 9-1 stretch since has them back in the mix. (Kevin P. Tucker)

Before this season, Penn hosted the Ivy League Tournament every year since its inception in 2010. But the Princeton Tigers have pounced through the vines to clinch their first Ivy title since 2006 with wins over Penn and Dartmouth this past week.

"It just demonstrates how tough it is to win an Ivy championship," explained Princeton coach Chris Sailer, who now has captured ten with the Tigers. "Regardless of where people are ranked, there's so much tradition and rivalry within the league that it's not easy to win that title. We've come close many times and to finally win it, it's a great accomplishment for this year's team."

The Tigers weren't expected to take over the reign after a subpar 1-3 start to the season, but they are no longer endangered, securing the top seed and hosting duties.

No. 19 during the preseason, Princeton faltered with an opening day loss to Loyola, then took overtime losses to Georgetown and Brown that dropped them out of the rankings. But just in the nick of time, Princeton is back to their original spot, pushing Penn to No. 20. It is possible, however, for Penn to share the regular season title if it wins its final two games against Columbia and Cornell.

"You didn't quite know which way the season was going to go," Sailer described. "There's no resemblance to the team we were in the first week or two of the season versus how we're playing now."

In order to get a bid to the NCAA Tournament, Princeton needs to play well in its next three games, starting with its regular season finale against out-of-conference foe Penn State on Saturday and ending with the Ivy tournament.

Chances are the Tigers may face the Quakers again. For Sailer's squad, it will be a challenge but she hopes she can get a repeat win.

"Any time that you can win a league consistently and host the tournament over that amount of time, you know that you're doing something right," said Sailer on Penn's four-year reign as tournament host. "I have to give a ton of credit to our team for playing the game that they did against Penn on Wednesday night. We were able to hold them to five goals."

No. 2 Maryland also held the Quakers to five goals, Penn's second lowest number of goals all season long behind its all-time low of two in a loss to Northwestern.

PREVIEW OF TEWAARATON FINALISTS

On Friday evening, the Tewaaraton Watch Lists will be narrowed to 25 men's and 25 women's nominees. Below are LM's predictions for the top five candidates to receive the award for the women:

Shannon Gilroy has been a force for Florida - enough to earn a spot in the Tewaaraton finals? We think so. (Greg Shemitz)

1. Kayla Treanor – Sophomore Attacker, Syracuse Orange

It is no question that the sophomore has been instrumental in the success of Syracuse as the strongest attacker in women's lacrosse. All season long, it has been a constant battle between Maryland, North Carolina and Syracuse, the top three teams in Division I as well as the ACC. When the Orange finally earned the No. 1 ranking for the first time in program history with a 12-9 win over North Carolina, Treanor scored a career-high seven goals in the Carrier Dome. That was the first time Syracuse defeated a No. 1 team since the 2012 NCAA semifinals against Florida. Through the end of the regular season, she leads her team in points and goals with a commanding 85 and 58, respectively. In NCAA Division I, she is No. 2 in total points and No. 3 in total goals.

2. Shannon Gilroy – Junior Midfielder, Florida Gators

As the consistent leader in points and goals in Division I, Shannon Gilroy certainly deserves to be a Tewaaraton finalist. All coaches hope to have that one player on their team that is sound from end of the field to the next – and that's Gilroy. She takes a firm stance at midfield with 72 draw controls and has steered her squad to the top of the American Lacrosse Conference with 75 goals and 16 assists for 91 points. She will likely break 100 points as we enter tournament play. Defensively, she has caused 23 turnovers – the most for the Gators.

3. Taylor D'Amore – Senior Attacker, Johns Hopkins Blue Jays

Without Taylor D'Amore, Johns Hopkins wouldn't be where they are today. After returning from her stint as an alternate for the 2013 FIL World Cup, her game improved vastly just in time for her senior season. She spearheaded the Blue Jays' historical 10-0 start to the season and through their contest against Penn State, she has also led the team in points for 10 of the 15 games, with only two of those game-highs tied with two other teammates. Currently, she boasts 78 points – the third-best in the nation – made up of 43 goals and 35 assists. Her assist total is ranked No. 4 nationally.

4. Taylor Cummings – Sophomore Midfielder, Maryland Terrapins

Maryland is the No. 2 team in the country thanks to a valiant effort put forth by Taylor Cummings in the midfield. Her dominance on the draw has meant the difference between winning and losing in several close games with a whopping 83 controlled so far this season. With her swift movement all across the field showcasing her well-rounded abilities on both offense and defense, she has picked up 26 ground balls and caused 23 turnovers – the most in both categories. Cummings ensures that she is a part of the plays that matter. As a key starter for every game, she is tied for first with 44 goals for the Terps and second in total points with 65.

5. Abbey Friend – Senior Attacker, North Carolina Tar Heels

Three-time All-ACC Team selection Abbey Friend is the reason the Tar Heels have remained at the top of the charts for the majority of the season. Her senior leadership has proven to lend a hand in tough times and she can always guarantee that the ball will reach the back of the net from her stick. Going into the ACC Tournament, she has scored 53 goals and docked a total of 67 points – the most for the Tar Heels. She is the second-best goal scorer in the ACC behind Kayla Treanor with an average of 3.43 per game.

QUICK SLANTS

Two conference tournaments will be taking place this weekend – the Atlantic Coast Conference at Boston College and the Patriot League at Loyola. Maryland took the No. 1 seed, followed by Syracuse and North Carolina at No. 2 and No. 3, respectively. Loyola locked up the regular season title and top seed for the Patriot League with its undefeated conference record.

Duke – ACC's No. 4 seed – ended its regular season with an unexpected overtime win over North Carolina. It was the second straight year these state rivals played into overtime.

Stony Brook senior goalie Frankie Caridi maintains her nationwide lead in save percentage, stopping 57.1 percent of shots on goal to date and 61.5 percent in a 15-5 win over New Hampshire, which extended their winning streak to 10 consecutive games. The Seawolves clinched the top seed in the America East tournament, as well as a share of the regular season title.

Florida secured its first outright America Lacrosse Conference title since 2012 with a 13-12 win over Northwestern and an undefeated ALC record.

Jessica Karwacki of Robert Morris leads Division I in draw controls with 12.86 per game. No one else averages above 10. The next closest is Kaylin Morissette of Louisville with 8.87.


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