May 13, 2012

Kollar Leads Cortland Past TCNJ to Final Four

from press release

CORTLAND, N.Y. – Senior Erin Kollar (East Islip) scored a game-high four goals and added one assist to lead the nationally second-ranked Cortland women's lacrosse team to a dramatic 9-7 win versus fourth-ranked The College of New Jersey Sunday afternoon in the NCAA Div. III Women's Lacrosse Tournament quarterfinals at the SUNY Cortland Stadium Complex. The Red Dragons tied the school record with their 19th consecutive victory and improved to 20-1 on the season. Cortland previously won 19 straight games in 2006 and 2011, also advancing to the national semifinals in those seasons. The Lions concluded their season at 16-4.

The Red Dragons will face fifth-ranked Trinity, a 7-5 winner versus Colby on Sunday, Saturday at 4 p.m. The other semifinal game pits top-ranked Salisbury against sixth-ranked Middlebury. The Gulls defeated Catholic, 13-6, on Sunday, while the Panthers knocked off defending national champion Gettysburg, 15-9. The two winners meet for the national title on Sunday, May 20 at 2 p.m.

Junior Maria Di Fato (Camillus/West Genesee) also recorded five points for Cortland on three goals and two assists. With her five points, Di Fato became just the third Red Dragon in school history to score 100 points in a season. Di Fato, who currently has 102 points on 75 goals and 27 assists, joins senior teammate Lindsay Abbott (South Onondaga/Onondaga Central), who reached the mark in 2011 and this season, and Danielle Torre, who scored 108 points in 2009.

Abbott tallied one goal and one assist in the contest, and junior Natalie Melaniff (Wantagh) connected for a career-best three points on one goal and two assists and contributed three draw controls. Junior goalie Shauna Hutchinson (Islip Terrace/East Islip) stopped six shots in 59 minutes, 58 seconds. Sophomore goalie Courtney Morgan (Locust Valley) was credited with two seconds of playing time after Hutchinson drew a yellow card in the first half.

Sophomore Jen Garavente (Monroe Township, NJ) led the Lions with three goals and an assist. Senior Kathleen Notos (Pennsauken, NJ/Camden Catholic) scored twice, senior Leigh Mitchell (Mt. Laurel, NJ/Lenape) had one goal and one assist and junior Trenna Hill (Syracuse/La Fayette) added a goal. Mitchell finished the season with 85 assists, just three shy of the NCAA Div. III single-season record set by Randolph-Macon's Angela Bisland in 2002 and matched by Buffalo St. senior Kendyl Clarkson this season. Sophomore goalie Kelsey Zinck (Burke, VA/James W. Robinson) turned aside eight shots. Notos and sophomore Lauren Pigott (Jobstown, NJ/Northern Burlington) each registered three draw controls.

The first half of the game featured plenty of end-to-end action as each team was a perfect 8-for-8 on clears and committed just nine combined turnovers.Cortland jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead and never trailed in the game. Di Fato opened the scoring at 28:43 with a quick-stick goal. Kollar made it 2-0 with a goal at the top of the crease at 27:18, and Abbott pushed the lead to 3-0 off Di Fato's feed at 22:04. Shortly after a College of New Jersey timeout, Notos put the Lions on the scoreboard at 20:22. Kollar and Melaniff answered with goals at 18:40 and 14:51, and Cortland led 5-1.

The College of New Jersey responded by closing the half with five of the final seven goals and trailed just 7-6 at the break. Garavente scored from the free position at 14:38, and Kollar netted her third of the game 24 seconds later to make it a 6-2 game. The Lions then netted three in a row in a 79-second span, one each from Garavente, Mitchell and Hill, to pull to within 6-5. Di Fato pushed Cortland's lead to 7-5 at 5:39. The Red Dragons then gained possession and held the ball in an effort to possibly take the last shot of the half but turned it over inside a minute. The Lions took advantage as Garavente notched her third of the game off Mitchell's assist just 13 seconds before the half.

The pace of the second half turned deliberate as each team looked to set up quality scoring chances. The scoreboard did not change until Kollar tallied her fourth of the game more than 20 minutes into the half with Di Fato assisting to give Cortland an 8-6 lead. The Lions won the ensuing draw and earned a free-position attempt but shot wide giving possession back to the Red Dragons. Cortland successfully cleared and Di Fato scored into an empty net at 7:10 as Zinck attempted to double team the ball.

The Red Dragons won the next draw control but turned the ball over with 4:52 remaining. The College of New Jersey wasted little time in scoring when Notos cut across the middle and tucked a shot inside the post at 4:21 to make it 9-7. Notos won the following draw, but Hutchinson denied her high bid from eight yards out. The Red Dragons gained possession and successfully ran out the final 3:54 to seal the win and the trip to the final four.

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