March 16, 2011

Messiah All Business After F&M Upset

by Mark Macyk |

Megan Bovenzi and the Messiah women's lacrosse team had plenty to celebrate Tuesday after knocking off No. 4 Franklin and Marshall, but instead turned their gaze to William Smith and a potential Spring Fling title.

The Messiah College women's lacrosse went to Florida this week, just like many college students on spring break. But the Falcons weren't there to party.

"We've called it our business trip," Messiah coach Heather Greer said Wednesday. "It's not really a spring break. We're not going to hang out at the beach and do whatever. Our goal is to win two games... But clearly we have a lot of fun together."

We're talking upsetting the No. 4 team in the country fun. Messiah celebrated spring break with a 10-9 overtime victory Tuesday over Franklin and Marshall, the 2009 NCAA champion, at the Spring Fling in West Palm Beach.

In the waning seconds of the first overtime, Messiah's Rachel Dirksen grabbed a rebound of an F&M free position and raced down the field, checking the clock to make sure she'd have time to score. She had just enough, putting in the eventual game-winner on a high goal with four seconds remaining. It was her only score of the game.

Fitting with the game's theme, it was tied 4-4 at halftime and 9-9 after regulation, F&M had a chance to win at the end. Messiah (4-0) won the draw to open the second overtime and held it until an errant pass with 40 seconds remaining. Freshman Lizzy Keeney helped get the ball back, tipping an F&M pass, and Jaime Gerhart picked up the ground ball. Messiah once more tried to run out the clock, but F&M (3-1) got the ball at the 50 with eight seconds remaining.

Taylor Phillips sealed the game with her 10th save of the night.

"That's how we finished," Greer said. "I apparently blocked that part out. Taylor had a great game."

Phillips, a sophomore, has been great all year. The Falcons have yet to allow a team to reach double figures and shut out Wilkes in their last game before heading south. Phillips faced 14 free position shots Tuesday; F&M converted just three.

"This is the biggest test she's ever been faced with," Greer said. "To a degree, goalies have to step up under pressure."

Messiah opened the game with three straight goals and led by two late in the fourth quarter, but goals in the final four minutes from F&M's Cat Serpe and Maggie Mae Shields forced overtime. Shields finished with three goals, and Caroline Krohn had two goals and one assist for the Diplomats. Maddie Comfort led Messiah with five goals and one assist.

Neither team has time to dwell on Tuesday's result. The tournament continues Thursday with Messiah playing William Smith in the title game at 4 p.m. The Herons (1-1) pulled a dramatic upset of their own Tuesday, taking down No. 19 Babson 19-18. F&M and Babson (2-2) will play in the consolation game.

"They always joke that I don't let them celebrate," Greer said. "They've already done a good job. They came back to the hotel and they're looking up William Smith. We didn't know who we were playing until yesterday. William Smith is not an easy team to beat."

William Smith's Melissa Potter scored the game-winner with 44 seconds remaining to set up the final. Greer said Messiah will need to play even better against the Herons.

"A win is a win," Greer said. "It's great to get a win against a great team, but we're looking forward. If we lost, it's not the end. We won; it's not the peak. It's a stop along the way."

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