March 15, 2012

WD2 Notebook: Seton Hill Sets High Expectations

by Mark Macyk |

Emma Simmers' free position score with 27 seconds left gave Seton Hill a big one-goal win over Bloomsburg. The Griffins are 5-0, a third of the way to their preseason goal of winning 15 games.
© Seton Hill 

When Seton Hill's new coach Kristie Quigley first addressed her team this fall, she let them dictate their goals. She asked them what they wanted to accomplish in 2012.

"They wanted to go 15-2," said Quigley, who had coached the previous three seasons at Erskine in South Carolina. "It's an ambitious goal."

It certainly seemed ambitious. Seton Hill went 7-10 last year and plays in the always-competitive ECC, which currently has three teams ranked in the top 15.

"It was tough at first," Quigley said. "Only because of the goal they set for themselves."

But a closer look at 2011 reveals truths Seton Hill's players already knew about themselves. Had the ball bounced differently in a few close games, the Griffins could very easily have won more than 10 games last year. They lost to Bloomsburg by two in overtime. They lost to C.W. Post by two. Shippensburg beat them by one in triple overtime.

And so Seton Hill entered 2012 with a clear goal: 15 wins.

"What's the worst that happens?" Quigley said. "We don't reach that goal and we still go over .500 and we have something to work toward next year."

It's been far better than that so far. The Griffins are 5-0, opening with a tough non-league schedule that has featured three games against teams from the PSAC.

The big win came on Saturday, when they came from behind to beat Bloomsburg, 12-11, on Emma Simmers' free position with 27 seconds remaining. Earlier, Rachel Hilbert tied it for the final time on a free position with 8:11 remaining.

Though they're non-conference wins, these early PSAC victories could come in handy should Seton Hill reach its 15-win goal. The school is located east of Pittsburgh in Greensburg, Pa. and plays in the South region, while the vast majority of its league is in the North. Since the attached state also counts as in-region, the Griffins league games against New York teams like C.W. Post, Dowling and Molloy, count in-region. As a result Seton Hill can boost its resume with most of its league games, plus any non-league game against Pennsylvania and points south.

"We're actually in a perfect location," Quigley said.

In more ways than one. Greensburg is far enough away from Pittsburgh to have its own identity, but close enough that players can head into the city for the day. Add this to Seton Hill's stellar academic reputation -- US News ranks it No. 13 among North Regional Colleges -- and the Griffins draw from all over.

Simmers is a local player from Pittsburgh. Morgan Cain, who led the team with four goals and three assists against Bloomsburg, is from just over the border in West Virginia. Hilbert is from Eastern Pennsylvania.

The goalies that combined on SHU's 19-0 shutout over Wheeling Jesuit, Kaitlyn Flaskerud and Nadine Wallace, are both from Maryland. So is Amanda Malkowski, who had four goals and three assists in a season-opening, 20-4 victory over West Virginia Wesleyan.

Emily Fagan, who led the team with four goals and one assist in a 14-5 win over Shippensburg, is from Calgary. Amanda Lee, the anchor of the defense, hails from Texas, as does sophomore Brittany Anderson.

Quigley posed another question to her team before the season started, asking each player to write down why they chose Seton Hill. She wanted to get to know them, but was also about to begin recruiting and needed to sell the school.

Every player's answer was 'The team.'

It's evident from how they play. Eight players scored in Seton Hill's 20-4 victory over West Virginia Wesleyan. Seven scored against Wheeling Jesuit. A different player leads the team in scoring every night.

"I know every team says that," Quigley said. "They really mean it here."

Seton Hill continues its non-league slate against another tough PSAC foe, Mercyhurst, on Saturday. They then host undefeated Shepherd on Tuesday. The Griffins open up their ECC season on March 31 at C.W. Post.

Lock Haven Hands Florida Southern Its First Loss

One PSAC team not on Seton Hill's schedule that will certainly be in the running for the South Region playoffs is Lock Haven. The Eagles got their season started on Monday with a 16-11 victory over previously-unbeaten Florida Southern (6-1).

Jessica Pandolf led Lock Haven with four goals and two assists and Kayleigh Johnson had two goals and five assists. The fourth-ranked Eagles are in the midst of a southern road trip that will have them face off against D-II's three best teams from south of the Mason-Dixon line: Florida Southern, Rollins and Limestone.

Lock Haven's PSAC and South Region rival West Chester (2-0) also heads south this week. The Golden Rams defeated Queens (N.C) 18-11 on Sunday.

WCU opens its PSAC schedule on Tuesday at home against East Stroudsburg. Lock Haven plays at Millersville the same day. The teams square off at West Chester on April 20, and likely again in the PSAC Title game.

New Haven Charging Forward

Lock Haven is not the only haven making noise early. New Haven, which has opened 3-0 with wins over Molloy, Mercy and Belmont Abbey, is ranked No. 8 this week.

The Chargers most impressive victory was their 16-6 season-opener against Molloy in which Sarah Magnone scored five goals and Alexis Gabbe had three goals and three assists. As a reference, defending NCAA champion Adelphi defeated Molloy 15-10 a week earlier.

New Haven won its next two games by a combined score of 35-5.

Magnone leads the team with 14 goals and two assists, Gabbe has seven goals and seven assists and Ashley Ferrandiz has eight goals and six assists.

New Haven begins its Northeast-10 season on Wednesday against Assumption and plays at No. 10 Merrimack next Saturday. Five NE-10 teams are ranked in the Top 15 this week, including No. 1 Le Moyne and No. 2 Adelphi.

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