April 18, 2013

WD2 Notebook: Rollins Notches Big Win Before Surprise Visitor

by Mark Macyk LaxMagazine.com

“This definitely means a lot for the people at home,” Rollins goalie Elyse De Lisle said after beating host West Chester 12-9.
© John Strohsacker/LaxPhotos.com

The stands were packed with fans last Thursday at West Chester. But, throughout the game, one rooter in sunglasses and a blue Rollins jacket screamed louder than the rest. 

As Rollins rallied from a five-goal deficit to defeat West Chester 12-9, her cheers could be heard even over the rendition of “Sweet Caroline” that the Tars' bench sang every time Caroline Lamere found the back of the net.

Of course, Cat Kelley isn’t just a fan. Last year she led Rollins in points (54) and assists (16) as a senior. She’s still dishing out helpers as an alum. Kelley didn’t tell the Tars she was making the trip up from Florida, but the surprise visit provided plenty of motivation.

“She never got the opportunity to beat West Chester so we kind of kept that back of our minds,” Lamere said. “We’re a pretty close program.”

After the game, as Rollins celebrated like a team that had just beaten West Chester on its home field, almost every member of the team stopped at midfield and acknowledged Kelley in the stands. 

“This definitely means a lot for the people at home,” said goalie Elyse De Lisle.

Added Lamere: “They’re probably blowing up our phones right now.”

The result was a reversal from the first half, when West Chester built an early 7-2 lead and a reversal from last year, when WCU rolled over Rollins 19-10 in the South Region final.

“I think last year we were a little shell shocked when we came out in the final four,” Lamere said. “A lot of us had never played a game of that magnitude before. The stage, the pressure, the whole entire atmosphere in Kentucky was a little overwhelming for myself and some of the other younger players. The extra year definitely helps. Some of us have been playing together for three years now.”

So Rollins didn’t panic when it fell behind by five goals against a team that’s reached nine of the last 12 NCAA championship games. By halftime Rollins whittled the deficit to 7-6. Seven minutes into the second half Ginevra Czech scored off an assist from Erica Pagliarulo to give Rollins the lead for good, 8-7.

Pagliarulo led the Tars with three goals and two assists and Lamere and Thayer each had three goals. West Chester’s Lauren Glassey had two goals and two assists and Theresa Giunta had two goals and one assist.

Comebacks have become a habit for the Tars, who despite graduating several program-defining talents such as Kelley, are more experienced.

“We played 25 girls against Limestone,” Lamere said. “Against Bentley, a sophomore scored the game-winner. So a lot of underclassmen who wouldn’t have the experience, do because of the way we play. That’s an advantage for us. We’re young, but we’re kind of naive.”

“When you’re young you don’t really have anything to lose,” added De Lisle.

When the comeback was complete, Rollins, which has made nail-biters a habit this year, finally got a chance to run out a game with the win.

“It’s pretty much the same mentality,” De Lisle said. “Just stay composed on defense. Stay disciplined. It’s one thing that I keep reminding the defense. Never get complacent, even if we’re up by nine, because anything can happen.”

“I don’t think there’s any other team we’d want to try to build that experience from,” Lamere added. “It’s good to go against a defense and a coach and a staff that knows how to chip away at a lead.”

That’s something Rollins is known for. And something they had to do again two days later, when the Tars visited upstart Lindenwood. 

After the West Chester win, Rollins coach Dennis Short told his team to enjoy the victory — it was symbolically huge for the program and it also probably means Rollins will host its first-round NCAA tournament game — but then to move on to Lindenwood.

“Tomorrow is a new day,” Lamere said. “Lindenwood is kind of in the same position we were in, now. We know they’re a great team.”

For more than 50 minutes, Lindenwood showed just how close to Rollins it is. The Lions led 12-10 with less than seven minutes remaining, but Pagliarulo scored twice and Tyler Thomas scored to help the Tars escape Missouri with a 13-12 victory.

The next two games finally allowed them to relax. The Tars beat McKendree 19-3 and St. Leo 19-4. They’ll wrap up their regular season with Lenoir-Rhyne and No. 9 Florida Southern.

Game of Last Week

No. 1 LIU Post 17, No. 5 West Chester 8

The much-anticipated rematch of last year’s one-goal NCAA championship didn’t live up to the hype as LIU Post rode 11 points from Jackie Sileo (two goals nine assists), who broke the program’s career scoring mark in the process, and Dominique Mosca stepped up with 13 saves against West Chester’s talented offense.

What it means for LIU Post: Without a doubt, the Pioneers (12-0) are still the team to beat and overwhelming favorites to earn the North's No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. West Chester gives LIU Post a Top 10 victory, and since Pennsylvania is attached to New York, it counts as in-region, so it will be very tough to argue with the Pioneers’ resume come tournament time.

What it means for West Chester: Because it counts as a regional game, the loss hurts a lot. With seven South region teams having legitimate postseason aspirations, West Chester (10-2) cannot afford to slip up in the PSAC. A win next week at Le Moyne, which would count as in-region, would certainly help too. The Rams proved last year that the regular season doesn’t matter come NCAAs. They can do damage if they’re in, they just need to prove they belong there.

Up next: LIU Post has four more ECC games remaining and one non-league contest, against No. 12 Bentley. West Chester continues its season-making stretch on Friday at Lock Haven.

Looking Ahead

No. 5 West Chester at No. 8 Lock Haven, Friday
No. 5 West Chester at No. 13 Indiana (Pa.), Saturday

Three teams are currently tied at the top of the PSAC with 7-0 records. It’s going to be a crazy couple of weeks in the Keystone State.

West Chester (10-2, 7-0 PSAC) is in the midst of a brutal stretch with five Top 15 opponents in 15 days. After losing to Rollins and LIU Post this week, the Rams need to win at least one, and perhaps both, of these games to keep their postseason hopes alive.

Lock Haven (10-1, 7-0 PSAC) beat West Chester, 12-9, last year but the Rams had a good enough non-league resume to edge LHU for the South Region’s final playoff spot. This year four teams get in, but along with rising programs Pfeiffer and Florida Southern, Indiana (Pa.) is firmly in the conversation. 

West Chester crushed IUP, 23-8, last season, but the Crimson Hawks (10-0, 7-0 PSAC) are off the best start in program history. Only one of IUP’s 10 wins has come by fewer than seven goals.

The latest NCAA regional rankings have IUP ahead of West Chester and Lock Haven. Those rankings should be a lot easier to figure out next week.

Game Balls

Kathleen Conese, Le Moyne: Conese filled the stat sheet with four goals, one assist, four ground balls and two caused turnovers on Wednesday as Le Moyne handed Adelphi its first loss of the season, 13-11. Le Moyne had not defeated Adelphi in Syracuse since joining the NE-10 in 2011. Earlier in the week, the junior from Liverpool, N.Y., had three goals and one assist in a 16-2 victory over St. Michael’s. Through 12 games, Conese leads the Dolphins with 28 goals.

Rachel Leibovitz, Grand Valley State: Leibovitz, a sophomore from Naperville, Ill., had six goals in GVSU’s 15-13 victory over Tiffin on Saturday. The win left the Lakers as the only undefeated team remaining in the Great Lakes Athletic Conference. Leibovitz had four goals earlier in the week in a 25-1, GLIAC victory over Alderson-Broaddus. 

Hannah Vogel, Millersville: Vogel racked up seven goals, five ground balls, five caused turnovers and four draw controls in Millersville’s 21-15 victory over East Stroudsburg on Saturday. The sophomore from Horsham, Pa., followed that up with five goals and two assists in Monday’s 27-14 romp over Shepherd.

Miscellaneous

Junior Sarah Oor shattered Limestone’s all-time assist record and broke her own single-season record with a five-assist effort during the Saints' 18-10 victory over Belmont Abbey on Saturday. Oor now has 142 career assists, breaking the previous mark of 138 and has 57 assists this season, one more than last year. The win gave Limestone an undefeated Conference Carolinas regular season... The Conference Carolinas tournament is this weekend in Burlington, N.C. Top-seeded Limestone (14-1) gets an immediate rematch with No. 4 Belmont-Abbey (8-8), which defeated Converse, 15-5, in the 4/5 game Thursday, one day after edging Converse in overtime to clinch the four seed. No. 2 Pfeiffer (14-1) also gets an immediate rematch with No. 3 Queens (9-9). Pfeiffer beat Queens, 17-9, on Saturday. If the top seeds we’ll see Pfeiffer vs. Limestone in the championship. If Pfeiffer manages to pull the upset, it will be tough to keep the Falcons out of the NCAA tournament... The University of Virginia’s College at Wise announced the addition of women’s lacrosse, starting in 2014. The Cavaliers will begin a coaching search later this month and hope to have a coach in place by late May or early June. This could also mean the addition of a new conference to the Division II landscape. Fellow Mountain East Conference members Notre Dame (Ohio), Urbana, Shepherd, West Virginia Wesleyan and Wheeling Jesuit all offer lacrosse. Shepherd and West Virginia Wesleyan currently compete as independents, while Notre Dame, Urbana and Wheeling Jesuit play in the GLIAC.

Mark Macyk has covered NCAA Division II and III women’s lacrosse for Lacrosse Magazine since 2011. He can be contacted at markmacyk@gmail.com.


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