May 9, 2013

WD2 Notebook: Le Moyne Looks to Beat Adelphi One More Time

by Mark Macyk | LaxMagazine.com

The Dolphins captured their first-ever NE-10 championship, and won their 14th straight game on Sunday, defeating Adelphi 8-6. Le Moyne faces Adelphi again Saturday in the NCAA tournament. Junior Kathlee Conese (27) leads the Dolphins with 39 goals.
© Greg Wall

During the Cold War, both superpowers began training warrior dolphins as undersea minesweepers. Around the same time, Flipper was solving mysteries and apprehending criminals every week on his TV show. A dolphin can accomplish pretty much any task if properly motivated.

But what coach Beth Hewitt asked of her Le Moyne team after it fell to 2-2 on St. Patrick's Day, was a tall order — even for a bunch of Dolphins.

"At the time we said, 'We've gotta win out,'" Hewitt said. "It's one of those things, where you say, 'Good luck with that.' It's the Northeast-10. Easier said than done. But that was our goal."

Le Moyne had just lost to Bentley, its second loss in 11 days, tying the amount of regular season losses suffered in the two previous regular seasons combined. The Dolphins would need to pull off one heck of a trick to guarantee another trip to the NCAA tournament.

Mission accomplished. The Dolphins captured their first ever NE-10 championship, and won their 14th straight game on Sunday, defeating Adelphi 8-6. The Dolphins had fallen to Adelphi in the previous two NE-10 title games. Adelphi had not been held to single digits since 2008.

It capped a run in which Le Moyne won six games against ranked opponents, ran the table in the rest of its NE-10 slate, swept the conference tournament and beat Adelphi twice.

It seems there's nothing these Dolphins can't do.

"We've had a great rivalry with Adelphi," Hewitt said. "We've been able to beat them, but hadn't been able to when it really counted. To do it under a pressure situation, in the big game... I was happy for our seniors specifically."

Those seniors were along for the transition to Division II in 2011, an outstanding year by any measure except the Dolphins lost three times to Adelphi, the only three games they lost that whole season.

Back then they were sophomores, brand new to D-II, but now players like Brenna Bauer and Kelly Condon are leaders providing a veteran presence on a team that rotates in 13 underclassmen.

"They're the leaders behind the scenes," Hewitt said. "Making sure everything is set up correctly. Doing the right things, communicating. They score as well, but they do so much more of the little things."

Bauer also leads the team with 20 assists and 53 points. Condon ranks third in goals (32) and points (45). Junior Kathleen Conese leads the team in scoring, with 39 goals, giving the Dolphins an experience big three lead their offense.

"You can have the most talented players in the world, if you don't have that glue that holds them together its never going to come together and gel," Hewitt said. "You're never gonna have that unity. The best part of this team is we have that balance."

This is the third straight NCAA tournament appearance for the Dolphins. They've reached the North region final every time. But for their 14 freshman, it's all still unfamiliar. The wisdom from the older Dolphins should prove even more valuable this weekend.

"A lot of the freshman haven't experienced what it's all like," Hewitt said. "The upper classmen are doing a good job of educating them and getting them ready."

And ready they will be. So the Dolphins won't worry about the difficulties in beating a team like Adelphi three times. Or the potential of LIU Post or Stonehill looming in Round 2. The next two weeks can't be much tougher than the past two months.

"We had a couple of really tough games," Hewitt said. "A couple of times it looked a little dim. But we fought through it. It's a great group."

Looking Ahead

NCAA Tournament First Round, Saturday

North Region:

No. 4 Stonehill at No. 1 LIU Post

These two traditional powers have won five of the 12 NCAA Division II championships. Defending champ LIU Post seems like the overwhelming favorite, but Stonehill was within two goals late in the second half when they met in the regular season. LIU Post hung on to win that game 15-12, the second-closest deficit it played all year.

LIU Post leads Division II with an 11.0 scoring margin, while Stonehill ranks 20th at 4.0. The key for Stonehill will be how its young defense handles Ashley Olen, Jackie Sileo and the rest of LIU Post's explosive offense.

No. 3 Adelphi at No. 2 Le Moyne

Le Moyne vs. Adelphi is quickly becoming one of the best rivalries in Division II. The Dolphins beat the Panthers twice this season, but there's an old cliche about how tough it is to beat a team three times in one year. Then again, Adelphi beat Le Moyne three times in 2011.

Le Moyne won both games by two goals this year and held the Panthers to single digits for the first time since 2008 on Saturday. Adelphi still has plenty of championship experience on its roster, but if the Dolphins play defense like they have during the past few weeks, they're going to be tough for anyone to beat.

South Region:

No. 4 Pfeiffer at No. 1 Limestone

Was Pfeiffer looking past Queens to Limestone in the Conference Carolinas semifinals? It doesn't matter anymore, because the Falcons will get their shot at the South's hottest team this weekend.

Limestone beat Pfeiffer, 11-7, earlier in the season, but for motivation Pfeiffer can look to the 10-9, overtime victory Limestone needed to dispatch Florida Southern on Saturday. Pfeiffer beat FSC by five earlier in the year. Of course, the day after Queens eliminated Pfeiffer from the Carolinas tournament, Limestone crushed the Royals, 21-9, so the common opponent thing can go both ways. The Saints have won eight straight against Pfeiffer, dating back to 2008.

No. 3 Lock Haven at No. 2 Rollins

This is the only first round game that is not a rematch of the regular season. These teams did meet last year, and Rollins won, 18-10. Plenty is different this time around.

That was the eighth game of the season for Rollins, and just the second for Lock Haven. That game also saw a season-ending injury to Lock Haven star Jessica Pandolf — who nearly single-handily brought the Falcons back in the PSAC championship Saturday — and LHU was already playing without injured goalie Chrissy Baffuto, so things should be closer this time around.

Both teams lost to Limestone and both teams beat West Chester during the regular season (though Lock Haven lost to WCU in the PSAC title game on Saturday). Three of Lock Haven's last four games have been decided by one goal. Rollins has played in four one-goal games this season. The one thing you can be sure of is neither team is winning by eight this time around.

Game Balls

Jess Henderson, West Chester: After the PSAC championship game, Henderson, a junior goaltender from West Chester, Pa., said she didn't know a goaltender could win tournament MVP. During the tournament, Henderson showed how valuable a goaltender can be, making 11 saves in the one-goal semifinal victory over IUP and then nine saves in the one-goal championship victory over Lock Haven, to end the Rams' season on a positive note.

Molly Marbut, Le Moyne: Marbut, a sophomore goalie from Edgewater, Md., was named the Northeast-10 tournament Most Outstanding Player after an 11-save effort in an 8-6 championship game victory over Adelphi. Marbut, who made eight saves in the semifinal victory over New Haven, is first-year starter but saw crucial minutes in last season's NE-10 title game.

Chelsea Treat, Limestone: Treat, a senior from Pan Yan, N.Y., had two assists and the game-winning goal in overtime as Limestone held off Florida Southern, 9-8, to clinch a perfect South Region season. The victory guaranteed a No. 1 seed for the Saints and ended the season for Florida Southern.

Miscellaneous

Second-year program Grand Valley State was perfect in its first run through the Great Lakes Athletic Conference, capping an unbeaten league season with a 16-12 victory over Tiffin in the GLIAC title game. Jordan Luberto, Victoria Devine and Rachel Leibovitz all had three goals for the Lakers (13-5, 8-0 GLIAC). Tiffin's Alexandria Quast, Division II's leading scorer, wrapped up her career with a six goal, two assist effort. GVSU dominated in the GLIAC's inaugural season, Tiffin was the only conference team to come within six goals of the Lakers all year.

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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