April 3, 2010

TCNJ Gets Its Revenge Against Gettysburg

by Rich Fisher | Special to Lacrosse Magazine Online

EWING, N.J. – The College of New Jersey women's lacrosse coach Sharon Pfluger could have dealt her team the revenge card prior to Saturday’s showdown with Gettysburg.

But she didn’t.

“You know what? They have it already,” Pfluger said after her fifth-ranked Lions took a 13-10 victory over sixth-ranked Gettysburg at Lions Stadium. “They have it within themselves, so I like to mostly focus on us. But they have that [revenge motive.] And you know what? They should.”

Indeed they should, after Gettysburg’s one-goal victory over TCNJ in last year’s NCAA Division III regional final. The Lions actually missed an empty-net opportunity in the final 10 seconds in that one.

The previous year, TCNJ ousted the Bullets from the NCAAs, and in 2006 the Lions topped Gettysburg in the Division III championship game.

“We ended their season last year; they ended ours the season before,” said Gettysburg’s Hollis Stahl, who had two goals and two assists in a return to her home county of Mercer. “Knowing they wanted to get back at us wasn’t something we were going to take lightly.”

“This was so big,” said TCNJ’s Kathleen Notos, who had five goals. “We just wanted to win it so bad. We kind of treated this game like it was a repeat of last year, like we had to win it or we were done. We came out really big. It was huge.”

It was the biggest test of the season for TCNJ, as Gettysburg was its first ranked opponent in 2010.

“They were the best we’ve played so far, no doubt,” said Lions midfielder Ali Jaeger, who had four goals and three assists.

The game started as if no one would take control. The first nine goals produced three lead changes and four ties.

With 9:38 remaining, Lisa Seldeen scored the second of her three goals (along with three assists) to make it 4-4. That started the Lions on a decisive run of five straight goals. Jaeger tallied 40 seconds later and the Lions would not trail again.

Notos then scored three straight to make it 8-4 by halftime.

Asked what sparked the surge, Jaeger said it was just a matter of doing what works.

"To tell you the truth, we just played our game on offense,” she said. “We made good passes, ran our plays well and executed. Nothing out of the ordinary.”

Lindsey Robinson scored early in the second half to pull the Bullets to within 8-5, but that would be as close as Gettysburg got for the remainder of the game.

Lions goalie Mary Waller had a little to do with that. With the Lions leading 10-6 and Gettysburg riding some momentum, the junior went to work. With just over 18 minutes to go, she robbed Nina Emala twice within a minute, then came up with another big save to keep TCNJ with a relatively comfortable lead.

Gettysburg did get within 11-8, but Notos scored again and the Bullets were unable to get another surge in the final nine minutes. Hannah Church finished with three goals for the Bullets, while Jessica Crane had two goals and an assist, but the Lions defense was tough when necessary.

“We have to give the defense a lot of credit in this game,” Jaeger said. “Especially Mary. She saved us on so many shots. They were incredible saves. Our defense just stayed steady and stood up to the challenge.”

TCNJ entered the game ranked second in Division III in goals allowed (5.6) and Gettysburg was 12th in goals scored with 16.6.

The Lions offense is even more impressive, as it averages 17 goals per game, which ranked eighth nationally. 

“We have a very veteran attack, and we read each other very well,” Jaeger said. “The passing has just stepped up so much this year.

“That’s really how you have to be successful in this day and age in lacrosse. It’s tough to go one-v-one against these more competitive defenses. You have to make quick cuts, thread-the-needle passes. That’s the most successful way of going about it.”

Stahl, who grew up in nearby Hightstown and attended the Peddie School, had nothing but praise for the Lions.

“They’re a very good team,” she said. “This game is always tough. They got a three- or four-goal lead, and we exchanged goals after that for the rest of the game. Besides those 10 minutes ... that was the difference.”

A difference that gave TCNJ the revenge it was looking for.

Although it’s always a possibility the Bullets will get their chance to avenge this loss later this season. 

It has become that kind of rivalry.

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