May 15, 2011

TCNJ Rallies from 5 Goals Down, Trips F&M

from press release

- The College of New Jersey's aspirations for an undefeated season and a national championship stayed alive in improbable fashion as the Lions rallied from a pair of five-goal deficits to hand Franklin & Marshall College a 14-13 defeat on Sunday.

The Lions trailed 12-7 with 16:24 remaining in the game, but ripped off seven straight goals to erase that margin and punch their ticket to the NCAA Division III Women's Lacrosse Championships where they will face Bowdoin College in the semifinals set for Saturday, May 21 at Adelphi University in Garden City, NY. TCNJ also found themselves down by five goals in the opening half.

The win put the Lions at 20-0 on the season as this team becomes the first in the program's rich history to reach that 20-win plateau. They are also the lone undefeated team in the country after Bowdoin knocked off Trinity College, 9-6.

The Diplomats finished their season 19-3, with two of those losses coming at home to the Lions.

In the second half, the Lions were faced with a 12-7 deficit and junior Leigh Mitchell (Mt. Laurel, NJ/Lenape) scored from a free position to get the rally started and Sara Keating (Upper Montclair, NJ/Montclair) circled the cage after a free-position attempt and sent a high shot into the cage making it 12-9.

The Lions used two more free-position goals to pull to within one as Kathleen Notos (Pennsauken, NJ/Camden Catholic) got the first and Alex Spark (Harvey Cedars, NJ/Southern Regional) got the second.

Notos then netted one of the biggest goals of her career rifling a shot to the upper part of the net and then scored an even bigger goal with 5:07 left in the game. That second goal gave TCNJ a 13-12 lead, which was its first advantage since the scored the game's opening goal.

Spark added what turned out to be a valuable insurance goal with 3:50 left, but the Diplomats didn't quit and they climbed to with 14-13 with 2:17 left.

A determined Alison Jaeger (Hampton, NJ/North Hunterdon) was then fouled tracking down the ensuing draw control giving the Lions possession and they were able to run the clock out and return to the national semis for the first time since 2008.

The loss by the Diplomats ended their four-year run of advancing to the semis, with two of them ending with national titles.

TCNJ opened the game started on a positive note as Spark threaded a nice pass to Notos for a 1-0 lead.

The Diplomats countered that by scoring four of the next five goals to forge a 4-2 lead.

Freshman Jen Garavente (Monroe Twp., NJ/Monroe Twp.) made it a one-goal game as she cashed in on an assist from Mitchell.

Franklin & Marshall then put together a four-goal run with Caroline Krohn (Baltimore, MD/Towson) netted two of those goals. That run put the hosts in front 8-3, but Notos gave the Lions a spark in the final seconds of the half with a free-position goal with only 1.9 seconds left in the period.

TCNJ fed off of the goal by Notos as they came out at the start of the second with back-to-back scores as Jillian Nealon (Whitehouse Station, NJ/Hunterdon Central) scored on a feed from Lauren Pigott (Jobstown, NJ/Northern Burlington) and Mitchell tallied unassisted making it an 8-6 game.

That momentum was short lived as the Diplomats got free-position goals from Cat Serpe (Essex Fells, NJ/West Essex) and Maggie Mae Shields (Bryn Mawr, PA/Baldwin School).

Mitchell got one of them back, but F&M again scored consecutive goals extending its advantage to 12-7 setting up TCNJ's dramatic finish.

Notos led all players with five goals raising her season total to 72, making her the eight player to score at least 70 in a season. Spark and Mitchell added to the win scoring three goals apiece.

Senior goalie Mary Waller (Bel Air, MD/C. Milton Wright) made six saves as she collected her 20th win of the season.

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