May 21, 2011

Bowdoin, Gettysburg Ensure First-Time Division III Champion

by Mark Macyk | | Live Blog Replay | Live Blog/Chat Center

Katy Dissinger (four goals) and the Bowdoin women are in the championship game after taking down a previously-unbeaten opponent for the second straight week.

© Joe Rogate

GARDEN CITY, N.Y. -- Somebody's going to win their first national title this weekend.

Bowdoin kept up its giant-killing streak, sending its second straight previously-undefeated team home with an 11-9 win over TCNJ in the NCAA Division III women's lacrosse semifinals Saturday at Adelphi. Gettysburg eliminated Cortland 11-9 in the night cap.

It'll be Polar Bears versus Bullets for the NCAA Division III women's lacrosse championship Sunday at 3 p.m. at Adelphi.

Bowdoin does it again

Bowdoin coach Liz Grote had to laugh when sophomore Carolyn Gorajek credited a week of preparation as a reason the Polar Bears were able to hand TCNJ its first loss of the season. This was the same week Grote found herself practicing with half a team because of finals.

Some Bowdoin players completed finals on the bus ride down from Maine.

"We would make jokes how we're gonna be playing better because our brains are functioning," Gorajek said.

But it didn't take long for the Polar Bears to shift their focus from their books to their sticks, easier to do three months into a season.

"At this point in the year, if you don't know it, you're never going to," Grote said.

Bowdoin came out slowly and trailed 4-1 after 10 minutes. The Polar Bears didn't take the lead until Gorjek scored to make it 8-7 with 11:39 remaining in the game. Katy Dissinger scored one minute later to put the Polar Bears up two. After TCNJ's Kathleen Notos cut it back to one, Katie Stewart scored what proved to be the game-winner as Bowdoin went up 10-8.

Bowdoin held TCNJ to its second-lowest scoring output of the season.

"I told them we have the best defense in the country," Grote said. "They said 'really?' I said, 'I think we do. Let's do it.'"

Tara Connolly backed up Bowdoin's defense, making 13 saves.

"Her saying before every game is 'calm and fun'," Grote said. "She's not gonna stress out. "

It was Bowdoin's second straight win over an undefeated opponent. The Polar Bears handed tournament top seed Trinity its first loss last week.

"Getting that revenge on Trinity," Gorajek said, "proving we could beat an undefeated just gave us a boost of confidence."

Bowdoin's next opponent isn't undefeated, but it does play great defense. Gettysburg averages 6.44 goals against per game, fifth-lowest in Division III.

"Obviously it's a big moment for the program," Grote said. "It's fun to see how far they've come."

Gettysburg gets back

Gettysburg, which has reached the final four in five of the last six seasons, is back in the championship game for the first time since 2006 thnkas to an 11-9 win over Cortland in Saturday's NCAA semifinal.

© Joe Rogate

Gettysburg reached the NCAA semifinals in five of the past six seasons, but only reached the championship game once before, in 2006. Last year they hosted the championship but fell short.

"We were joking when we saw the [third place trophies], we don't want those this year," said sophomore Lindsey Robinson, who had three goals and two assists in the Bullets' 11-9 win Saturday over Cortland.

Early it looked like the Bullets might again be relegated to third-place hardware. Cortland opened with three straight goals, but Gettysburg followed with five in a row and never trailed again. Kelsey Markiewicz and Hannah Church led Gettysburg with four goals each.

Cortland made a switch to goalie Anne Hutchinson at halftime, and the senior kept the Red Dragons in the game, making seven saves.

"I told her that during the playoff run we might turn to her," said Cortland coach Kathy Taylor. "Maybe I should have turned to her earlier."

Gettysburg's run to the championship may come a year later than people expected. The Bullets were loaded with seniors and hosted the championship last season.

Said coach Gettysburg coach Carol Cantele: "The turning point came midway through the season, around the TCNJ game, where we said. 'Why not us?'"

In that game, Gettysburg lost 8-7 and came closer to beating TCNJ than anyone else until Bowdoin knocked the Lions out of the tournament.

Gettysburg has just two seniors, which Church, a junior, said makes it easier to forget the postseason struggles of the past.

"It's such a young team, this was new for everybody," Church said. "It's been a roller coaster, but it's been a lot of fun."

Gettysburg will face another tough goalie in Bowdoin's Connelly on Sunday. Gettysburg did not face Bowdoin during the regular season.

"It's exciting to create new rivalries with people," Cantele said. "They're gonna get a good nights sleep and we'll hit the ground running sometime after a sleep-in."

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