May 15, 2010
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - The Patriot League champion Navy women's lacrosse team saw its finest season to date draw to a close as the Mids were defeated, 18-5, by third-seeded North Carolina on Saturday afternoon at Fetzer Field.
Navy ends its season with a 17-4 record, while the Tar Heels improved to 16-2 and advance to the quarterfinals where they will face the winner of Sunday's contest between No. 6 seed Virginia (13-5) and unseeded Towson (13-4).
"All the credit goes to North Carolina. They are one of the top teams in the country and they played like it today," said Navy head coach Cindy Timchal. "I thought we competed hard and never quit. In three years we have gone from playing for the club national title to playing in the first round of the NCAA Championship. I am really proud of what the girls have accomplished."
The host Tar Heels roared out of the gates, winning each of the first five draws and opening the contest with six unanswered goals, including five within the first six-plus minutes.
After some early jitters, Navy began to find its footing and better adjust to the game's pace. The Mids were held without a shot until the 17:55 mark and would eventually solve the nation's third-ranked defense with 11:00 remaining in the period as junior Caitlin Mandrin Hill (Annapolis, Md.) put the Mids on the scoreboard on a free-position tally.
The Tar Heels closed out the half on a 3-0 run and took a 9-1 advantage into the break. Senior Jenn Russell, one of five finalists for the 2010 Tewaaraton finalists, and sophomore Laura Zimmerman each contributed two goals for Carolina in the opening 30 minutes.
After North Carolina began the second half with a 3-0 run, Navy's senior team captain Erin Rawlick (Forest Hill, Md.) stemmed the run with back-to-back goals, the second coming off a Mandrin Hill feed from behind the cage.
Just over three minutes elapsed before Rawlick, the 2010 Patriot League Offensive Player of the Year, completed her NCAA-leading 17th hat trick of the season. Senior Shelly Moeller
(Milford, Ohio) made a strong play to advance the ball up the field to sophomore Madison Bell
(Baltimore, Md.), who found Navy's senior standout streaking to the cage for her third consecutive goal over a 4:37 span.
After calling a timeout, North Carolina began to reassert itself and reeled off six unanswered over the final 15-plus minutes. Junior Katrina Nietsch (New Canaan, Conn.) added a late goal for Navy, her 31st of the year, to round out the afternoon's scoring.
Rawlick paced the Mids on the day with the three-goal outing, running her career-best total to 77 on the season. She concludes a decorated playing career, which saw her vault from a club team walk-on to the nation's leading scorer this spring, with the 25th-most points in women's lacrosse history with 294 points (199 g, 95 a) over just 56 games.
"I thought we gave everything we had out there today," said Rawlick. "I think we can play with this caliber of a team if we just do a better job of keeping possession of the ball."
Freshman goalie Michelle Verbeeck (Wading River, N.Y.) relieved sophomore starter Elaina Ponchione (Silver Spring, Md.) early in the contest and finished with six saves to her credit in 51 plus-minutes of action. Their counterpart for the Tar Heels, Logan Ripley, a 2009 First-Team All-American, made four saves in a winning effort.
North Carolina, the only team to pin losses on the tournament's top-two seeds Maryland and Northwestern this season, had six players finish with at least two goals. Sophomore Becky Lynch's six-point effort (3 g, 3 a) paced the Tar Heels, while Zimmerman, senior Megan Bosica and junior Corey Donohoe each contributed three goals apiece.
The Tar Heels outshot the visiting Midshipmen by a 39-13 margin and won both the ground ball (29-14) and draw control categories (15-10). Against an aggressive ride, Navy committed 18 turnovers, including 11 in the first half, to the hosts' 12.
"I thought possession was what killed us. It is the most important part of the game and we did not do a good job of it today," said Mandrin Hill, who finished her junior year with a career-best 63 points (33 g, 29 a) after contributing a goal and one assist on the afternoon. "I am proud of the fact that we never gave up the ship. Next year, when we play against this type of team we need to play with more confidence. It is about Navy, it's not about the opponent."
*Navy set a school record with its 17 victories this spring, after winning 13 games during both its inaugural 2008 campaign (13-4) and in 2009 (13-5).
*Only two Division I programs have qualified for the NCAA tournament faster than the three years it has taken the upstart Navy women, who have racked up a 43-13 (.767) since their inception in 2008.
*Saturday marked Cindy Timchal's NCAA-best 22nd NCAA Tournament appearance and 43rd career game. Timchal is the only coach in NCAA women's lacrosse history to lead three different teams to the national tournament.