April 22, 2011

NCAA Division II Women's Lacrosse Notebook: Georgian Court Reigns over CACC

by Mark Macyk | LaxMagazine.com

Georgian Court has blown out the CACC competition, having not lost a conference game since 2009. The Lions have added some difficult non-conference competition to expedite the growing pains.

Double-digit winning streaks, games against Stonehill, Dowling and C.W. Post, players topping Division II's scoring list -- Georgian Court and Adelphi have more in common than you think.

Yes, Adelphi is looking seeking a third straight NCAA championship, while Georgian Court wants a second straight Central Atlanic Athletic Conference title this year. And, yes, Georgian Court lost to those top-10 opponents, but give the Lions some credit. When Adelphi won its first NCAA championship in 2004, GCU didn't have a team.

Georgian Court (10-4) has rattled off 10 straight wins by an average score of 18-5. A second straight CACC title seems likely. Senior Ryan McGarth ranks sixth in the NCAA in points. It's been a complete reversal from the first two weeks of the season, when the Lions lost to East Stroudsberg, Stonehill, C.W. Post and Dowling.

"We bounce back pretty well," said Jackie McGarrigle, Georgian Court's first-year coach. "I think they were really stressed playing those top teams. They felt like they needed to go out and make a statement. Now they're having so much fun. It's more relaxed."

It's easy to have fun when you're getting results like last Saturday's 16-7 win at Philadelphia, the CACC's second place team and the last conference squad to beat GCU, way back in 2009. This year, the Lions haven't lost since CACC play started in mid-March. That includes an 18-5 victory Thursday over Wilmington.

The brutal early-season slate had something to do with that success.

"The good thing about all those games is we played really well," McGarrigle said. "It's a small victory, but when you're playing top teams in the country, you really learn a lot. It showed my kids we can hang in there, that we could be just like them. It built up their confidence."

Those four top teams in 10 days were also trial by fire for McGarrigle, who took over the team in October when the schedule was already in place. McGarrigle, who played at Rowan and coached at Birmingham-Southern, has her roots in Division III.

"It was my first experience in Division II," she said. "I've heard of these teams, but never seen them. I was going in more blind than the kids. My naivete kind of helped me."

Corrine Pingitore, GCU's new assistant coach, also helped. Pingitore won NCAA titles the last two seasons as a midfielder at Adelphi. Where else?

"She's been so successful in translating her playing carer to the coaching career," McGarrigle said. "It's almost because she's so cocky being from Adelphi. She gives a great players insight into how these kids play."

The players have embraced the new coaching staff, and McGarrigle said she's never been around a happier team. It's evident on the field. McGrath (47 goals, 29 assists) leads the CACC in points. Sophomore keeper Jennifer Molzon leads the CACC with a 9.46 goals against average.

Freshmen Molly McCourt (22 goals, five assists) and Stephanie Gallo (15 goals, five assists) beat out seniors for starting spots this spring. Now they rank third and fourth on the team in points.

Georgian Court does have one more chance to improve on that 0-4 non-league record. The Lions head to Kutztown of the PSAC on Saturday, one last tuneup before the CACC tournament.

"They're excited," McGarrigle said. "[Kutztown] will be a good game for us. Maybe a little reality check before our conference tournament."

Adelphi vs. C.W. Post: The saga continues

Speaking of Adelphi, the top-ranked Panthers (11-0) head to C.W. Post on Friday, to face the only team that's beaten them in the past 70 games. Post and Adelphi have played six times during that span, which stretches back to 2007, with Adelphi winning four.

Since 2003 Adelphi is 8-5 against Post and 121-4 against everyone else. All four of those losses came against Stonehill. Post won 21-16 during the regular season last year to earn a No. 1 seed for the NCAA tournament, but Adelphi won 14-9 in the North region final.

Adelphi has looked unbeatable lately. The Panthers have cracked 20 points in 10 out of their 11 games, the outlier being an 11-9 win at No. 2 Le Moyne.

Things have been rougher for No. 8 C.W. Post (10-2). The Pioneers bounced back from an 11-9 loss at No. 5 Stonehill (12-1) Saturday by rolling past No. 6 West Chester (12-3), the defending South region champions, on Tuesday.

C.W. Post's schedule remains brutal after Adelphi with key ECC tilts at Mercy (7-4) and home against No. 7 Dowling (9-2), a May 7 showdown that could very well decide the conference championship. Post also hosts No. 13 Merrimack (9-5) of the NE-10 on April 30. That's four opponents with a combined 36-11 record.

Le Moyne's been stingy

Le Moyne (12-1) is the only team to hold Adelphi below 20 goals this season. The 11 goals Adelphi scored in that one represent the only time a team reached double figures against the Dolphins. Le Moyne has won its past four NE-10 games 17-4, 20-1, 16-3 and, most recently, 15-3 at No. 9 New Haven (8-6) on Tuesday.

Le Moyne's Kell Fucillo leads Division II with a 5.33 goals against average, edging out Adelphi's Frankie Caridi by .02. A rematch in the NE-10 final seems likely, but watch out for Stonehill. The Skyhawks' 14 goals were the most Adelphi allowed all season. Le Moyne visits Stonehill in the regular season finale on April 30.

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