April 11, 2013

WD3 Notebook: Stankaitis Making Music Between Pipes

by Mark Macyk  LaxMagazine.com

All-American goalie Emily Stankaitis is part of a Susquehanna team that has opened the season 11-0.
© Susquehanna

It is a riddle that has perplexed scholars for ages: What is the difference between playing goalie for an NCAA lacrosse team and playing the clarinet?

The answer, according to Susquehanna All-American Emily Stankaitis is not much.

“They’re completely the same,” said Stankaitis, who plays does both at SU. “It’s kind of strange how similar they are. You have to work on the fundamentals: your fingering, practicing your scales, all the building blocks. When you go and play the hard stuff, you’re ready because you’ve built up such a strong base.

"In lacrosse, you have to work on the footwork first. Then, when you’re on the field, you can come out of the crease to make interceptions, make the right clear. It’s the same kind of approach.”

Of course, there is one difference between the two that Stankaitis knows very well: You can find people to play clarinet with in New Zealand. And, while Australia is all about the sport, finding Kiwis to lax with is a different matter. 

Stankaitis discovered that truth when she spent the fall semester of her junior year at the University of Otago in Dunedin, on New Zealand’s South Island.

“It’s a lovely place,” Stankaitis said. “Goodness gracious, the landscapes are absolutely breathtaking. I can’t even articulate it. The people are the friendliest ever — except they don’t really have lacrosse, which was a bit sad. I got a lacrosse stick, because I couldn’t go four months without lacrosse. I was practicing and I had to explain the game to so many different people.”

Stankaitis hopes to return to New Zealand for a time after graduation, and she’d love to coach lacrosse in the country. But before that happens, Stankaitis and No. 12 Susquehanna have business to attend to in stateside. 

The Crusaders have opened their season 11-0. They’ve been here before. Last year they started 12-0 and ended up losing just twice — both times to Catholic — but ended up missing out on the postseason.

“I know we would have been the next team on the list,” Stankaitis said.

This year they’re doing everything possible to make certain they won't be left off anyone's list. That meant going to California in early March, where SU defeated Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, Pomona-Pitzer, Redlands and Whittier. CMS and Redlands have each reached the NCAA tournament in recent seasons. 

That success has continued right on through this week, when the Crusaders put defending Commonwealth Conference champion Elizabethtown in running time in the second half, before settling in for a 17-10 victory. But the game the Crusaders have circled looms on April 20, when they head to Washington to face Catholic.

"We're champing at the bit," Stankaitis said.

SU is chock full of talent. Stankaitis, who currently has a .516 save percentage and last year became SU’s first All-American, is in goal. Junior Emma Ehler, who ranks in Division III’s Top 20 with 48 goals, leads the offense. But its success goes beyond that.

“I think if I had to pinpoint one thing it’s that our team chemistry is the best it’s ever been,” Stankaitis said. “I’m gonna be honest, our team is weird. We are filled with some special individuals. But we feed off each other and we get so excited and pumped up and we enjoy the game of lacrosse and we like being around each other. We have very clear goals. Lofty goals. We really want to reach the NCAA Final Four.“

Those goals may not be as far off as they seem. They’re certainly closer than New Zealand.

Game of Last Week

No. 7 Franklin & Marshall 10, No. 8 TCNJ 7

A late TCNJ run cut the defecit to 8-7 with 6:39 to go, but consecutive goals from Casey Madden and Brittney Jorgenson helped F&M put it away. Jorgenson, Emily Everdell and Caroline Krohn all had two goals for the Dips and Maggie Mae Shields provided two assists. F&M’s Kelsey Hoffman made 11 saves. TCNJ’s Jillian Nealon led all players with three goals.

What it means for F&M: If there was any doubt, it’s now erased: The Dips are firmly back in the national title picture. The three-goal deficit is TCNJ’s largest margin of defeat all season and largest margin since F&M won by four last year. In fact, F&M is the only team to defeat TCNJ by three or more goals since 2010. The win should have confidence high for the Dips as they head towards the big Centennial Conference clash with Gettysburg on April 24.

What it means for TCNJ: In the grand scheme of things, not much. TCNJ is still a lock to reach the NCAA tournament, where it will certainly host its first round game. The Lions even another chance to put themselves in the Top 5 conversation when they had to Salisbury on Saturday. With losses to Top 10 teams Gettysburg, F&M and Cortland — by a combined six goals — TCNJ's losses are all of the “someone had to lose” variety. There will be plenty of opportunities for payback in May.

Up next: TCNJ would certainly put the F&M loss behind it with a win Saturday at No. 2 Salisbury. Franklin & Marshall hosts Swarthmore the same day.

Looking Ahead

No. 3 Middlebury at No. 1 Trinity

These are two NESCAC teams with plenty in common and plenty of experience playing each other. Middlebury and Trinity have played four times in the past two seasons. Trinity has won every game, but only once by more than one goal. Trinity defeated Middlebury by one in last season’s NESCAC championship game and both teams ended up reaching the NCAA Final Four. And, of course, Trinity coach Kate Livesay played for Missy Foote at Middlebury.

The Bantams did not lose much from last season’s championship team and are beating teams by even larger deficits than last season - a surprising two-goal result against Connecticut College being the exception. Livesay expressed some concern in the preseason that teams would be ready for the Bantams’ suffocating defense. Thus far that has not been the case. Colby, Bowdoin, Tufts, Catholic and Babson all had their lowest scoring outputs of the season against Trinity, while Mary Washington and Bates equalled their lowest scoring output against Trinity.

Middlebury’s explosive offense has topped double digits in every game and may have the antidote to Trinity’s poisonous backline. Erin Halle has returned from injury and kick-started the scoring. Middlebury has not won a game by fewer than three goals and the three goal margin came against No. 5 Gettysburg.

Game Balls

Katie Bollhorst, Salisbury: Bollhorst, a senior from Severna Park, Md., tied career highs in assists (six) and points (eight) in Friday’s impressive, 14-1, victory over No. 14 Messiah. She followed that up with one goal and three assists on Saturday in a 21-4 victory over St. Mary’s (Md.). As of Tuesday, Bollhorst is fifth in Division III (and first among players on Top 20 teams) in assists (40) and 14th (and second among players on Top 20 teams) in points (66).

Katie Kleine, Fredonia: Kleine had nine assists and 13 points, the most for a Fredonia player in a single game since 2005, in the Blue Devils’ 21-12, SUNYAC victory over New Paltz. Then, after a three-goal, one-assist, performance against Wittenberg on Sunday, Kleine delivered four goals, including the one that tied the game with 12:48 remaining in the second half, as Fredonia came from behind to defeat Geneseo 9-8 on Tuesday. The senior from Cazenovia, N.Y., leads the unbeaten Blue Devils with 21 assists and 52 points.

Alli Terry, Notre Dame (Md.): Terry scored 16 goals in a pair of CSAC wins for the Gators this week. The big week started with nine goals in Saturday’s 20-10 win at Cedar Crest and continued with seven goals, including an important late insurance score, during a 14-12 victory over Gwynedd-Mercy on Tuesday. The senior from Towson, Md., who set Notre Dame’s single-season scoring record last season, leads the Gators with 28 goals.

Miscellaneous

Welcome to the NESCAC, the conference where the rankings don’t matter and even Top 10 teams can lose to a winless league foe. No. 10 Amherst found that out firsthand on Wednesday as Connecticut College pulled one of the year’s biggest upsets, dropping the Lord Jeffs by a score of 10-8. The Camels led 10-5 with 13 minutes remaining, but Amherst scored the game’s final three goals. Taylor Thomas had three goals and one assist to lead Conn College (4-7), which had lost its first six NESCAC contests. The Camels can try to shake up the conference again on Saturday, when they host No. 16 Hamilton. Amherst will look to bounce back in a Bay State clash with No. 17 Tufts on the same day... While the NESCAC’s top spot will be on the line in Saturday’s showdown between Trinity and Middlebury, third place should also be on the line next week. Colby makes the hour-long drive down from Waterville, Maine, to Brunswick, Maine, where it will meet Bowdoin. Colby beat Bowdoin, 10-9, last season... If No. 3 Cortland (10-1) exits the SUNYAC unscathed it will certainly be battle-tested for the NCAA tournament. The Red Dragons escaped Brockport with a 12-11 overtime victory, when Marilyn Farrell delivered in the first minute of the sudden death overtime. Brockport actually led 11-9 with three minutes to go, but Emma Hayes-Hurley and Chelsea Martin scored late goals to force overtime. Tough tests remain for Cortland against Buffalo State and Fredonia... Richard Stockton announced current Colby assistant, and former IWLCA Defender of the year at C.W. Post, Kim Williams, as the first coach in program history, this week. The Ospreys will begin competition next spring.

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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