Navy Women's Lacrosse Advances to Third Straight Patriot League Championship Game
April 28, 2011
Hamilton, N.Y. - The third-seeded Navy women's lacrosse team (13-5) knocked off second-seeded Lehigh (10-7), 10-8, to advance to its third straight Patriot League Championship game on Thursday night at Tyler's Field. Navy will now play No. 1 Colgate on Saturday at 3:00 pm. Top-seeded Colgate beat American, 15-14, in triple overtime in the other Patriot League semifinal on Thursday.
Navy is looking for back-to-back Patriot League titles in just its fourth season of varsity play. Saturday's game against Colgate will be broadcast by CBS Sports Network. Navy defeated Colgate, 14-11, earlier this season.
Navy and Lehigh met for the second time in the past six days, after the Mids suffered a 15-13 defeat on the last weekend of the regular season.
"It was really tough coming off the loss to Lehigh last week and losing the chance to host the tournament," head coach Cindy Timchal said. "But we became resilient and we focused in on good team defense and Michelle [Verbeeck] really stepped it up in goal tonight. We knew how tough Lehigh is so we had to put together a really great offensive and defensive scheme and our team played great tonight."
Navy was able to build up a 9-4 lead five minutes into the second half, but Lehigh bounced back to score five straight goals to make the game come down to the wire. Lehigh chipped away on the Mids and brought the game to 9-8 before a last second empty net goal secured the win for Navy.
"Lehigh did a good job of getting the draw controls in the second half and that really hurts us," senior captain Caitlin Mandrin Hill said. "But we held really good composure and our defense stepped up phenomenally. We won the game because of our defense today and Michelle [Verbeeck] stepped up with some awesome saves.
"We showed great determination today. We were determined to get every 50-50 ball, cause turnovers in the midfield and put the ball in the cage. I'm really proud of the way our team played tonight."
Sophomore Kathy Young opened the scoring just 48 seconds into the game with an unassisted strike and the Mids went up 2-0 on a fast break goal when freshman Aimee Gennaro connected on a feed from sophomore Jasmine DePompeo.
Lehigh's Lauren Dykstra then put the Mountain Hawks on the board before DePompeo ripped a low shot past the Lehigh goalie to put Navy up, 3-1, at 21:05.
Megan Kelly then scored for Lehigh off an assist from Dykstra and Dykstra added another goal of her own on a free-position shot to tie the game at 3-3 with 16:15 remaining in the first half.
The Mids then responded with a Molly Hamilton tally off an assist from DePompeo. Then, just 16 seconds later, Young scored on a free-position shot to give the Mids a 5-3 lead.
Niether team scored for the next nine minutes until sophomore Emily Mellin scooped a ground ball right in front of the cage off a rebound off a Gennaro shot and deposited it into the net at the 5:10 mark. It was Mellin's first career goal.
Navy then scored its fourth straight goal when Mandrin Hill scored a quick one-timer from DePompeo. The goal put Navy up 7-3 with two minutes to go in the first half. Lehigh then got one last goal before the half, snapping a 15-minute drought to cut the halftime score to 7-4.
Verbeeck had a number of impressive saves early in the game and finished the first half with seven stops.
Gennaro got Navy off to a fast start in the second half by scoring an unassisted goal at 28:44. Mandrin Hill then followed with a nice individual effort, spinning one way then turning back the other and ripping a shot past the Lehigh goalie to put Navy up, 9-4, its biggest lead of the game.
Lehigh then took the game over for the next 20 minutes of the game, scoring five straight goals, winning four straight draw controls and keeping the ball consistently in Navy's defensive zone. Although the Mids went on a scoring drought and Lehigh kept chipping away, the Mids never lost the lead and Verbeeck made a number of saves during the stretch to keep Navy ahead.
Navy was finally able to regain possession in Colgate's offensive zone at 4:55 and was able to run down the clock with Young, junior Danielle Vivonetto and freshman Jill Coughlin playing a key role in maintaining possession until Lehigh got the ball back with 1:00 to go.
Junior Kierstin King then caused a turnover to get the ball back in Navy's hands as the clock ran down. Mandrin Hill then scored on the empty net with a second to go in the game for the 10-8 final.
DePompeo, the Patriot League Offensive Player of the Year, led Navy with four points on one goal and three assists and Mandrin Hill, an all-league first teamer had a hat trick. Gennaro and Young, both all-league second team selections, each had two goals apiece.
Verbeeck finished the game with 11 saves and grabbed a game-high six ground balls. She improves her record to 4-1 on the season.
Dykstra scored a game-high four goals for Lehigh.
Navy was outshot by Lehigh, 30-19, and lost the draw control battle, 13-6.
Navy is now 3-0 against Lehigh all-time in the Patriot League Tournament and has ended the Mountain Hawk's season in each of the past three years.
The winner of the Navy-Colgate game will host the Northeast Conference Champion next weekend with an NCAA Tournament Automatic Bid on the line.