April 1, 2011

Queens (N.C.) Believes It Can Unseat Limestone in the South

by Mark Macyk | LaxMagazine.com

Queens (N.C.) standout Amanda Martin has returned with a vengeance from an ACL injury -- suffered against Limestone -- that kept her out of the entire 2010 season. Martin ranks second in Division II with 34 goals.

There's a certain expectation you need to have when you're the top dog in town or, in the case of Limestone women's lacrosse, several states. Every team wants to be the one that knocks you off and takes your place. You're not going to make many friends.

Meghan Dennehy knows it more than most. The head coach at Queens University of Charlotte since 2007 and has spent the past four years trying to find ways to unseat Limestone. In another life, she spent years trying build up Limestone as a player.

"No one likes Limestone," Dennehy said. "My players give me a hard time and make fun of me for it, but they also respect that I played there. It could be worse, I could have went to a school that doesn't win any games. I'd rather have them be the team to beat."

Queens might finally have the team to do it. The Royals (7-5), who head south to take on No. 3 Limestone (9-0) on Saturday, are riding a three-game winning streak and have won four out of their last five games, including a 7-6 win over Bloomsburg. A day earlier, they held a late lead against No. 8 Mercyhurst before eventually falling.

"Their confidence is awesome," Dennehy said. "They think they're going to go down [to Limestone] and get a win. In the past years they've gone down there and said 'Here we go again, Limestone.' They're actually believing they have a chance. [Limestone] is undefeated, we can't take them lightly, but the win yesterday is going to give us momentum with that confidence."

That win was a 10-7 result at Belmont-Abbey, the team's first win against the Crusaders in six tries. The win held a little extra for Dennehy. She was an assistant at the Abbey between Limestone and Queens.

Said Dennehy: "I wanted to make sure I got my program where it needed to be to beat the teams I came from."

This weekend's contest also holds a little extra weight for the Royals' longest-tenured player. It was April 1, 2009, almost two years to the day from Saturday, that Amanda Martin, then a junior, tore her ACL at Limestone. Her season, in which she already scored 32 goals, was over. Martin red-shirted all of 2010.

Two seasons and two surgeries later, she's making up for lost time. Martin's 34 goals this season rank second in Division II.

"She came back this fall and hasn't stopped going," Dennehy said. "I couldn't be happier for her success."

Frequently setting up Martin has been Shannon Casey. The junior leads the NCAA in assists (31) and is tied for second in points (64). Brittany Phillips adds to the weapons on offense. Described by Dennehy as a "firecracker," the junior has 31 goals and 12 assists.

"Overall this is the first year that we've had a strong team chemistry," Dennehy said. "That goes a long way. We have a strong freshman class; they're pushing the upperclassman to get better. They're all looking to make their teammates look good."

Some may look at Limestone's recent string of close wins -- in the past week they've gotten past New Haven 6-5, Merrimack 15-12 and Pfeiffer 7-6 -- as a sign the Saints are beatable. Others see it as Limestone being battle-tested.

Either way, Queens, which has been on the losing end of several close games, isn't taking Limestone lightly.

"It's a huge game," Dennehy said. "[Limestone's Scott Tucker] was my coach, so obviously I have a lot going on. I want the most success from them, but I want to show them they're not the only team in town. "

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