March 3, 2011

NCAA Division III Women's Lacrosse Notebook: Sea Gulls Shore Up for Title Defense

by Mark Macyk |

Who will step up for Salisbury? Trish DiGirolomo has shown signs of being the Sea Gulls' go-to player on offense, with 21 points in the first three games.

© John Strohsacker/

As if recruiting within the talent-rich state of Maryland and offering players a chance to defend a national title isn't enough, this month Salisbury showed off another sizable advantage over its competitors in the Northeast. The team can usually play outside in February.

"It's the benefit of being in the South," said Jim Nestor, coach of the defending NCAA champion Seagulls (3-0). "The northeast is still dealing with snow. We can be outside right off the bat. We play schools that aren't worried about snow."

The last team on the field when 2010 ended was one of the first teams out there in 2011. Salisbury defeated Frostburg State 21-4 on Feb. 19 and took down Elizabethtown, 16-6, over the weekend. The Sea Gulls survived a scare Wednesday, defeating upset-minded Adrian, 18-15.

The only top-10 team south of the Mason-Dixon line, Salisbury is one of just two top-10 teams to have started its season. The early games have allowed for the Sea Gulls, who lost six seniors and five starters from last year's squad, to integrate new players and see where they stand.

"There's our big question," Nestor said. "Who will step up?"

Several young players have stepped up, especially on the defensive end, where sophomore defender Cat Gartner has helped lock things down. But the seniors have taken center stage. Trish DiGirolomo had a career-high nine points against Elizabethtown and has piled up 21 on the season. Senior keeper Julie Ann Caulfield was named the CAC defensive player of the week.

Things only get tougher for the champs. Salisbury starts a stretch of five ranked opponents in seven games, culminating with a March 25 showdown at No. 3 Franklin and Marshall.

Said Nestor: "Those are the best teams. That's who we want to play... We'd love to beef [the schedule] up even more."

Gettysburg starts strong

Gettysburg is the only other top-10 team to have played, riding 12 first-half goals to a 17-6 victory over then-No. 16 Mary Washington on Feb. 24.

Senior Marnie Commins, junior Hannah Church and sophomore Lindsey Robinson each tallied career highs of five goals to lead the Bullets. Robinson added four assists for a career-high nine points.

Gettysburg will host Elizabethtown on Saturday before heading to Orlando to take on Stevens and Hamilton, both top-10 teams.

York makes school history

As if spending spring break in the Virgin Islands wasn't enough, York defeated Oneonta, 14-8, Sunday in St. Croix to open 3-0 for the first time in school history. The Spartans won at Wesley and Goucher earlier in the month. The program began in 2006.

Sophomores Kim Wayson (18 points) and Leah Schultz (11 points) have done the bulk of the early scoring, and classmate Tina Nicklas has played every minute in the cage, making 22 saves.

As an added bonus, the Spartans remained in the Virgin Islands and defeated RIT to improve to 4-0 on Wednesday.

Stevenson cracks top 20

There's one newcomer to the IWLCA rankings this week. Stevenson, won at St. Mary's (Md.) 8-7 in overtime on Feb. 19, and fell just short of upsetting No. 15 Washington and Lee, losing 10-9 on a final-minute goal in its home opener Sunday. The win was the Mustangs' first ever in 14 tries against St. Mary's.

Stevenson, No. 20 this week, was ranked for six weeks last season, the first time it ever appeared on the poll.

Brockport, which opens its season on March 14 against Ithaca, dropped out of the poll.

Shoreham's Vlahakis tabbed to run program at St. Joseph's (N.Y.)

Bob Vlahakis, who led Shoreham-Wading River to four straight New York State Class C high school championships, has coached plenty of Division I talent over the years. Now he'll give D-III players a try, as the head coach at St. Joseph's.

The Long Island school announced the hiring earlier in the month and according to athletic director Donald Lizak, hopes to begin play in the spring of 2012, a few months after the school unveils a new outdoor sports complex.

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