April 19, 2012

WD2 Notebook: Martino Reaches Record in Rams' Watershed Win

by Mark Macyk | LaxMagazine.com

West Chester's Ginny Martino won her 218th game on Monday, an NCAA Division II women's lacrosse record. The win was also important for the Rams in the South Region playoff picture.
© West Chester 

Ginny Martino became Division II's all-time winningest coach this week. The milestone victory could end up meaning even more to her West Chester squad in its quest for a South Region playoff berth.

The Golden Rams handed No. 1 Le Moyne its first loss of the season, 13-10, on a hot, humid afternoon, Monday in Southeastern Pennsylvania. The victory was the 218th of Martino's career, breaking the record previously held by Millersville's Barb Waltman.

The Golden Rams became the only team other than Adelphi to defeat Le Moyne since it moved to Division II last season. The win also gives West Chester something to hang its hat on in the tight South Region playoff race.

WCU (11-1) trailed throughout most of the first half and the game was tied with eight minutes remaining, but the Golden Rams scored the final three goals to win it as Tori Dugan sandwiched two goals around one from Jamie Dolan.

"I think the key was staying focused on the small parts of the game instead of worrying about the big picture," Martino said.

No easy task when your opponent came in ranked No. 1 and the temperatures in suburban Philadelphia reached 86 degrees.

"[The weather] wasn't as big of a factor as I thought it would be," Martino said. "We realized they had to play in the heat as well. Our bench did a great job of relieving our midfielders when it looked like they needed a quick break or a drink. We tried to keep a continual cycle going throughout the midfield, so that they had fresh legs going down the stretch. It also helped that we were so focused on winning the game, that most of the players didn't give it a second thought."

Eight different players ended up finding the back of the cage for West Chester. Dugan led the way with four goals and one assist. Brittany Brigandi had five goals to lead Le Moyne (12-1).

The victory comes during West Chester's most important stretch of the season. The always huge PSAC tilt against No. 10 Lock Haven (9-4) awaits on Friday and the Golden Rams host C.W. Post on Tuesday. New York borders Pennsylvania, so both Le Moyne and Post count as in-region.

While most teams play their toughest non-league games early, West Chester plays its two toughest tests around its biggest PSAC game.

"It actually just fell into place this year," Martino said. "Our March filled up fast and late April was all we had available. It works to our favor though at this time of year. We need to be challenged as our conference championships are right around the corner."

The Golden Rams are rolling at the perfect time. Since losing its first regular season PSAC game since 2006, March 25 against Bloomsburg, West Chester has racked up seven straight victories.

"The timing couldn't be better as we are finally finding our groove as a team," Martino said. "We are really playing our best lacrosse of the season at this point. Our defense has pulled together after a shaky start and our offense is really being creative and getting plenty of great looks at the cage. Seeing two of the best teams in the North at this time is a great challenge for us to see where we stand on a national level."

As for becoming D-II's all-time winningest coach, there's no time to reflect on that. Not with Lock Haven and C.W. Post looming

"It's a great milestone to reach," Martino said. "I never gave it any thought as the record approached. The season kind of takes over and you find yourself focusing more on that than any individual record. I am sure once I retire, it will be something to look back on and be proud of. But not when the toughest part of the season is upon you. You just think about helping your team fulfill their dreams. After all, if it wasn't for my players, past or present, I wouldn't have the honor of holding that record."

Le Moyne Bounces Back

It got no easier for Le Moyne in its next game, but the Dolphins survived a late rally to defeat New Haven, 11-10, in overtime.

Brenna Bauer scored the game-winner, her fifth of the day, 1:12 into the second overtime. Le Moyne led 9-7 late in the second half but New Haven's Alexis Gabbe scored two goals in the game's final 5:40 to force overtime. Gabbe scored again in the first overtime to tie the game after Brittany Brigandi briefly put Le Moyne ahead.

After playing three ranked teams in five days Le Moyne heads to Franklin Pierce (5-7) on Saturday and American International (2-11) Tuesday before next week's regular season finale against No. 7 Stonehill (11-2).

New Haven plays at Saint Michaels (3-9) on Sunday before a big game against No. 2 Adelphi (12-1) on Tuesday.

Who's No. 1?

With Le Moyne finally losing we'll almost certainly have a new No. 1 team next week.

That team could be No. 3 Rollins (14-0), Division II's only remaining unbeaten squad. The Tars played their first ranked team in almost a month last week, winning at No. 14 Florida Southern 16-10. The Tars have wins over Lock Haven, Limestone and Stone Hill and are a lock for the NCAA tournament. They have just two games remaining on their regular season schedule both at Regis in Denver at the end of the month.

If Rollins doesn't take the top spot it may well be No. 2 Adelphi (12-1), no stranger to the No. 1 ranking. The Panthers blanked Southern Connecticut, 23-0, on Wednesday and will have a chance to boost their resume before the poll comes out with a showdown at No. 8 Bentley on Saturday.

If the legend is true that if you defeat the top team you become them, then West Chester should be No. 1. The Golden Rams have one loss, by one in overtime, and can boost their chances against Lock Haven on Friday.

One team to watch going forward is No. 5 C.W. Post (11-1). The Pioneers play Stonehill, West Chester and Adelphi next week. Sweep those games and it would be tough to deny them the top spot.

Lindenwood's Crusha Breaks WILA Assist Record, Again

One game after breaking the Western Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association's single-game assist record, Lexi Crusha did it again, dishing out nine helpers, and two goals, in a 19-8 victory for Lindenwood over American International on Friday.

Lindenwood (11-2) continued its successful first Division II season on Wednesday, taking down Adams State, 17-4, to remain unbeaten in WILA play.

Mark Macyk has covered Division II and III women’s lacrosse for Lacrosse Magazine since 2011. He can be contacted at markmacyk@gmail.com.

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