May 22, 2011

Gettysburg's Laid-Back Approach Yields First NCAA Title

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

Hannah Church's five goals and three assists paced Gettysburg to a 16-5 blowout of Bowdoin in the NCAA Division III championship game Sunday. Her 26 goals and 29 points in the playoffs set an NCAA tournament record.

© Joe Rogate

GARDEN CITY, N.Y. -- Gettysburg didn't have time to stress about Bowdoin and the national championship game. When the Bullets arrived at their hotel after Saturday's semifinal, it was after one in the morning.

"It helped that we had an 8 o'clock game," said senior defender Becky Lutz. "By the time we got home it was past my bedtime."

Gettysburg looked well-rested Sunday at Adelphi, defeating Bowdoin 16-5 to capture its first NCAA Division III women's lacrosse championship. The Bullets were relaxed from the start, scoring the game's first five goals and taking an 11-2 lead into halftime.

Junior Hannah Church led all players with five goals and three assists, freshmen Kelsey Markiewicz had four goals and two assists and freshman Loren Pruitt had three goals and one assist to lead Gettysburg (19-4). Church set a new NCAA tournament record for goals with 26 and points with 29.

Carolyn Gorajek topped Bowdoin (18-4) with two goals and one assist.

Said Bowdoin coach Liz Grote: "I wouldn't say we played poorly. They played exceptionally."

That exceptional effort came from Gettysburg's relaxed approach to the game, the same approach the team has used all season. Gettysburg graduated 10 players from last year's final four squad and has only three seniors.

"This year there were literally no expectations," Lutz said. "Just taking it day by day got us here."

Added coach Carol Cantele: "We didn't know what we could accomplish coming in, but week by week, practice by practice, we started seeing a gleam in everyone's eyes that this was something we could do."

Gettysburg junior goalie Maddie Coleman kept Bowdoin out of rhythm all day, making nine saves. The five goals were the fewest Bowdoin scored this season.

"I just play for everybody else," Coleman said. "All 25 of us brought this today. Not just the one's on the field. It's the best feeling."

Like Coleman, Marckiewicz is a new starter. She was a high school senior when the highly-touted 2010 team fell short. When she arrived on campus and looked at the team, she didn't see any reason they couldn't win a title.

"I have a different take than they do," Markiewicz said. "I came in and I thought, 'Why not?'"

Gettysburg has a young core, but the Bullets were not ready to talk about a dynasty.

"We wouldn't want to put those expectations back on," said Lindsey Menton. "We've come into every game calm. We want to go into next season with the same attitude."

The three seniors, Lutz, Marnie Commins and Laura McIntyre, will not be back next season, but they end their careers in the best fashion possible. The seniors had previously played in the semifinals as freshmen and juniors.

"It's funny this year. At the beginning of every game, I did not want it to be the last time in the huddle with my team," Lutz said. "There's no sadness. Everything I've done athletically has been leading to this moment. I'm literally going out on top."

For Cantele, the championship is the topper on an already stellar resume. The eighth-winningest coach in Division III history has led the Bullets to 11 NCAA tournament apperances, 15 straight winning seasons and six final fours in the past six years.

Said Cantele: "The view is beautiful."

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