March 18, 2011

NCAA Division III Women's Lacrosse Notebook: The Spring Break Phenomenon

by Mark Macyk |

Sarah Bray had a goal and four assists in No. 2 Hamilton's 13-9 win over No. 5 Gettysburg in Orlando.

© Brendan Bush

This week's spring break trips are about a lot more than escaping the still lion-like weather up North during the Ides of March.

Messiah pulled the young season's first big upset on Tuesday, beating No. 4 Franklin and Marshall 10-9 in overtime at the Spring Fling in West Palm Beach, Fla.

It wasn't the first time the Falcons have had Sunshine State success. In last season's Spring Fling, they took down William Smith and nationally-ranked Amherst. But aside from the chance to take out a ranked team, Messiah coach Heather Greer illustrated the big advantage of the early season tournaments.

"You play quickly back to back and you don't know who the opponents will be," Greer said. "That's the postseason. That's where we want to end up."

These early-season trips are really the only way to simulate the playoff conditions of multiple games against unknown opponents in a short amount of time.

Messiah's been to the NCAA tournament twice. Having to refocus for a William Smith team that just pulled of an upset of its own (beating Babson) 48 hours later could prove to be valuable experience if the Falcons get back.

(Messiah fell short of its second straight Spring Fling title Thursday with a 10-9 loss to William Smith.)

In the 2009 NCAA tournament, the Falcons led late against Catholic but couldn't run out the clock, falling in overtime. They almost had a similar late-game collapse when they lost the ball in overtime against F&M on Tuesday, but this time Messiah held on.

"The same situation ended differently," Greer said. "Next time we're not going to throw the ball away."

Hamilton not wasting time

Messiah's not the only team to knock off a ranked foe in Florida. But No. 2 Hamilton's 13-9 victory over No. 5 Gettysburg at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando doesn't really qualify as an upset, unless you take into account it was Hamilton's first game and Gettysburg's fourth. Each team reached the final four last year.

Hamilton, which reached the NCAA final in 2010, started its season quickly, scoring the first five goals en route to an 8-2 halftime lead. Libby Schultz had three goals and one assist for Hamilton and Sarah Bray had one goal and four assists.

Curry's Hansbury burying opponents

Curry went 2-0 in West Palm Beach this week with a 19-8 victory over Mount St. Vincent on Monday and a 19-11 win over Smith on Wednesday, but the biggest performance of the season came last week, when the Colonels (4-0) were still in Massachusetts.

Senior attacker Ashley Hansbury had six goals and nine assists in a season-opening 18-5 win over Mount Ida. Hansbury didn't cool off in Florida, scoring eight goals against Mount St. Vincent.

The undefeated Colonels trade the Florida beaches for Rhode Island's this weekend, getting their Commonwealth Coast Conference slate started Saturday at Slave Regina.

TCNJ takes down Cortland

Some games actually took place away from Florida this week. Third-ranked TCNJ was home Sunday for No. 8 Cortland and won 12-5.

Leigh Mitchell had two goals and four assists and Kathleen Notos and Ali Jaeger had four points each to lead a balanced attack for the Lions, who scored six goals in each half.

TCNJ swept the NJAC weekly awards with Mitchell earning Offensive Player of the Week honors and Mary Waller Defensive Player of the Week. Lauren Pigott took home Rookie of the Week honors for the second straight week.

Cortland bounces back

Cortland dropped to No. 8 after its loss to TCNJ but bounced back Wednesday with a tight 8-7 victory at No. 11 Washington and Lee (4-3). Jordan Miller netted the game-winner with four minutes remaining. W&L led 3-0 early, but Cortland (3-1) rallied to tie it at four before halftime.

It doesn't get easier for Cortland, which is in the middle of a six-game road swing. The Red Dragons play at Roanoke on Friday before heading to No. 2 Hamilton on Tuesday. The road trip wraps up at Ithaca on March 26.

W&L is in the midst of a brutal stretch of six ranked foes in eight games. The Generals are at No. 14 Catholic on Saturday.

Colby cruising

Colby won't get to Florida until next week, but the seventh-ranked White Mules have had no trouble in New England.

On Saturday at No. 10 Williams, Colby rallied back from an 11-9 deficit midway through the second half to open the season with a 13-12 win. Sophomore Kate Pistel put in the game-winner with 5:49 left to play.

The White Mules kept rolling Tuesday at Southern Maine, scoring the first 10 goals in a 18-3 romp, a rematch of a 2010 NCAA tournament first-round game.

Colby hosts No. 18 Tufts on Friday before starting a three-game stint in Florida.

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