March 27, 2014

WD2 Notebook: IUP Withstands Pressure, Gains Confidence

by Mark Macyk | LaxMagazine.com | Twitter


All-American Taylor Norwood and the IUP defense have the Crimson Hawks perched in first place in the PSAC.  (IUP Athletics)

History was repeating itself for the Indiana (Pa.) women’s lacrosse team last Thursday night. One game after surrendering a late five-goal lead in a heartbreaking loss to Florida Southern, the Crimson Hawks were watching Rollins stage a late rally of its own. 

But, similar to what its opponents did a few days earlier, IUP turned a loss into a win. The Crimson Hawks took the lessons learned from the Florida Southern game and held on to clip Rollins, 16-14. Three days later, they returned home, withstood another late rally, and knocked off Lock Haven, 11-9, in overtime to soar right back into the South Region playoff picture.

IUP coach Mindy Richmond said the confidence to withstand those rallies came directly from the FSC game. The Mocs, who are currently ranked No. 5, have lost just once, by one goal to Limestone, and yet IUP (5-2) had a five-goal lead with three minutes to go. FSC scored six goals in the final three minutes to win it, but the game probably should have gone to overtime as there was a controversy regarding the horn.

Rather than dwell on three tough minutes, the Crimson Hawks realized something: they’re a pretty good team, too. 

“We were doubting ourselves,” Richmond said. “We didn’t know how good we were. The Florida Southern game was the proof we needed.”

So when Rollins used a three-goal run to cut a five-goal deficit late in the second half, the Red Hawks didn’t flinch. Amy Weinberg scored to put IUP back up three and that was that. Then, when Lock Haven scored three goals in the final two minutes to force overtime, the Bald Eagles didn’t give up. Drew Hayden and Alex Edwards each found the back of the cage in the extra session, and IUP found itself in first place in the PSAC.

“We have a lot to play for,” Richmond said. “It’s really brought a lot of energy to the team. They are truly playing for each other.”

The Crimson Hawks are seeing production from all over. Hayden (22 goals six assists) is the reigning PSAC Rookie of the Year. Freshman Kim Hooven, who has 20 goals and four assists, could win that award herself this year. Weinberg, another sophomore, has 11 goals and a team-high 18 assists and 29 points.

But IUP’s strength is its defense, which is allowing 12 goals per game. The Crimson Hawks backline are a veteran bunch loaded with the two things any good defense needs: size and speed. All-American Taylor Norwood, who has 22 ground balls and 21 caused turnovers, leads the way.

“They’re a little intimidating,” said Richmond.

That intimidation will come in handy during the PSAC season, which is as tough as any league in the country. With Bloomsburg, West Chester — and the conference tournament — looming, if IUP wins out it will have a real chance at reaching its first NCAA tournament. 

And while they finally have the confidence to get there, that isn't something the Crimson Hawks are focusing on.

“Of course we want to believe we have a shot at nationals,” said Richmond. “It’s there in the back of our minds, but we’re really focused on our conference.”

The conference slate continues on Friday with a trip to Millersville.

Looking Ahead

Saturday: Rollins (6-2) at Limestone (9-0), noon

This has been the South Region’s marquee matchup for the past couple of seasons. The last time these two teams met, in last year’s South Region final, Rollins had a two-goal lead with two minutes to go, but Limestone rallied to tie it before winning in overtime. In the two previous meetings, they traded one-goal victories. Before that, then-unheralded Rollins shocked Limestone and handed the Saints their only loss of the regular season. Limestone has been unstoppable this years, and Rollins needs a win to keep its playoff hopes alive. Regardless of what the records say, this should be a close one.

Game Balls

Kathryn Campbell, New Haven: The junior from Mansfield, Mass., delivered the winning goal in the Chargers’ 12-11 victory over Dowling on Tuesday, four days after pairing four goals with three assists in UNH’s 16-7 victory over Stonehill. Campbell has 19 goals and a team-high 18 assists and 37 points to lead the Chargers, who have surged out to a 7-0 record.

Julie Falk, Bloomsburg: Falk scored to tie it with 7:47 remaining, and added what proved to be the winning goal four minutes later in a 15-14 upset victory for the Huskies over West Chester on Saturday. In Tuesday’s 16-7 victory over Shippensburg, the junior from Millersville, Pa., put up four goals and four assists. 

Brooke Fisher, Millersville: The senior from Boyertown, Pa., scored six goals, including the tying goal with nine seconds remaining and regulation, and scored in overtime to help the Marauders to a 16-14 victory over East Stroudsburg on Tuesday. 

Notes

The RMAC might end up being a three-team race. Fort Lewis has raced out to 5-3 record and pushed Lindenwood to the brink before the No. 12 Lions emerged with a 7-6 victory on Saturday. Melissa Menchella scored off an assist from Shelby Polk to break a 5-5 tie midway through the second half. Next up is the biggest game on the conference calendar: Lindenwood hosts Regis on Thursday night.

***

Regis has rolled to five straight wins since opening with two losses. Emily Behr put up four goals and three assists and Hilary Duda had four goals and two assists as the Rangers improved to 2-0 in the RMAC with a 19-6 victory over Adams St. on Sunday. Regis now sets off on a four-game road trip that begins with Lindenwood and will also include Ft. Lewis on April 5. The Rangers finally return home on April 11 to play Rollins.

***

The magic number for LIU Post’s Jackie Sileo is down to 20. Sileo paired three goals with four assists in Post’s 16-2 victory over Queens on Saturday, putting her just 20 career points away from Curry’s Ashley Hansbury’s all-division record of 500 points. The Pioneers head to Assumption on Thursday and Roberts Wesleyan on Saturday, so unless Sileo puts up back-to-back double-digit efforts (which is highly possible) her best chance to break the record will likely come Wednesday back on Long Island when LIU visits Dowling.

***

No. 4 Le Moyne has won five straight since its loss to LIU Post, most recently on Saturday, when the Dolphins dropped Merrimack, 14-3. Freshman Amari Pollard scored three goals to lead Le Moyne, which visits Southern New Hampshire on Saturday.


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