March 20, 2014

WD2 Notes: Philadelphia Riding Ball Control To Success

by Mark Macyk | LaxMagazine.com | Twitter


Libby Nichols led the Rams with eight draw controls in their upset victory over Dowling on Saturday.  (Philadelphia University Athletics)

Surrounded by winding roads that become one way out of nowhere, and narrow two-way roads that should be one-way streets, Philadelphia University can sometimes be a difficult place to get to.

As some of Division II’s top women’s lacrosse teams are finding out, things don’t necessarily get any easier once you arrive on campus.

Philadelphia dropped then-No. 6 Dowling, 14-13, on Saturday in a game that was not really as close as the score indicated. The Rams had a three-goal lead with just over three minutes remaining. They kept rolling on Monday with a 20-14 victory over Dominican and currently stand at 4-1.

The Dominican victory was the fourth in a row since they opened with a 20-4 loss to Adelphi, a team they’ve played in each of the past four seasons. The hot start shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. The Rams are a rising team, willing to take on anyone -- LIU Post, Dowling and Adelphi have all paid visits to the City of Brother Love in the past two seasons -- and have long been one of those teams coaches mention when discussing how deep Division II is.

To move up the ranks, the Rams have adopted a "to be the best, you have to beat the best" mantra. They’re also proving that in order to beat the best you need to have the ball. They outdrew Dowling, 18-10, on Saturday. Libby Nichols reeled in eight draw controls and Liz Mower added in the victory. Nichols corralled 12 more against Domincian.

Another key is an obvious one -- the team has talented players. Coach George Chis-Luca took over six years ago, so this is the second season in which he recruited the whole team. Last year the Rams won 14 games and the CACC Regular Season title, before their two-goal loss to Holy Family, which they will host on Thursday, in the title game. And in building this team, he recruited all kinds.

Mower, the reigning CAC Rookie of the Year, is from nearby Souderton, Pa. She leads the team with 24 points and was just named CACC Player of the Week. Nichols played previous at D3 power Franklin & Marshall and Maryland high school power McDonough. She leads the team with 27 draw controls and 14 caused turnovers and just took home conference Defensive Player of the Week honors. Graduate student Kristen Blye was recruited from the basketball team, and has made an immediate impact with eight goals and four assists.

The idea was to build an athletic, balanced team. Twelve different players have registered points for the Rams this season.

“If you look at our stats everyone is getting a piece,” Chis-Duca said. “You can stop some of us, but you can’t stop all of us.”

Which, with the non-league season over, the rest of the CACC will now try to do. Next up is Holy Family. The Rams will get a chance to avenge last year’s title game loss on Thursday.

If they run the table in the CACC, they’ll have one loss, to a Top 2 team, plus a big win over Dowling, which counts as in-region since New York and Pennsylvania are connected. The long-term goal, Chis-Duca said, is NCAA the tournament. That goal may not that far off.

“If we take care of our business, you never know,” Chis-Duca said.

If nothing else, just like they have all season, the Rams won’t make things easy for the rest of Division II this May.

Looking Ahead

Stonehill at New Haven, Saturday 1 p.m.

Here’s the thing about Stonehill’s losses to Rollins and Florida Southern this week: in the long run it will mean absolutely nothing, because they were out of region. What matters is the NE-10, which the Skyhawks get started this week by paying a visit to the red hot Chargers. New Haven is fresh off a two-goal victory of Pfeiffer, but hasn’t defeated Stonehill since 2009. It’s early, but the winner will have an inside track toward a North Region playoff bid.

Game Balls

Megan Asper, Florida Southern: The Mocs trailed Indiana (Pa.) by four with less than three minutes remaining on Tuesday before rallying for a 16-15 victory in a crucial South Region tilt. Three of those goals came from Asper, including the winner with one second remaining. The junior from Parkton, Md., has a team-high 26 goals for the Mocs, who have lost just once, by one goal, to unbeaten Limestone, and likely control their own destiny in their quest to reach their first ever NCAA tournament.

Olivia Martin, West Chester: In a rare season-opening, must-win game, Martin delivered three goals in four minutes, including two in 14 seconds to tie the game, and help the Rams come from behind and defeat Queens, 6-5. It was also her first collegiate game. The freshman out of Haverford (Pa.) High added two more goals in WCU’s 18-5 victory over Newberry, as the Rams left the Carolinas undefeated.

Jackie Sileo, LIU Post: Sileo could earn a  game ball every week, but she (almost) out-did herself this time around. The senior from Wantagh, N.Y., paired five goals with eight assists, to tie a career-high of 13 points in a 20-2 victory at Holy Family on Saturday. Last Thursday, Sileo had five goals and five assists, including the 300th of her career, in a victory over St. Leo. Sileo currently has 31 goals and 33 assists for a Division II-best 55 points this year. She now has 475 points, just 25 behind Ashley Hansbury of Division III Curry’s NCAA record of 500. 

Notes

Adelphi and LIU Post aren’t scheduled to play each other this year, but the two Long Island rivals have been far and away the most dominating teams in the North Region. Adelphi shut out St. Thomas Aquinas, 19-0, on Monday. Freshman Jackie Jahelka had five goals and two assists in that one. Two days later, Devan Crimi put up six goals and four assists as the Panthers wrecked Southern Connecticut State, 23-1.

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The South Region will have one fewer undefeated team after Thursday, when No. 4 Lock Haven (2-0) and  No. 3 Limestone (8-0) face off in Salem, Va. LHU has had 11 days to prepare, while Limestone is coming off a mettle-testing, one-goal victory over Florida Southern. There’s a good chance this is a preview of the South Region title game.

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Don’t look now but Rollins has won four in a row, including a pair against two tough NE-10 teams, Stonehill and Bentley, this week. The Tars trailed Bentley by two with less than three minutes remaining, but rallied with goals from Taylor Burns and Caroline Lamere to force overtime, where Angelica Perdomo and Alley Rhinehart scored to secure a 16-14 victory. The Tars host a big game against Indiana (Pa.) on Thursday night, in a key game in the South Region playoff race.

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Bentley has opened at 0-3 against three Top 10 teams and will get its NE-10 season started against unbeaten Saint Anselm on Friday. Bentley defeated Saint Anselm, 17-14 last year. 


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