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March 9, 2016

Dragons romp in home opener

claxJoe McIntyre/staff photographer
SUNY Cortland’s Kristen Ohberg, 21, takes a shot on goal Tuesday against Ithaca College Gaby Berne, 2, in the first half. Ohberg had three goals and two assists in the 18-4 Red Dragons’ win.

By ALAN BUTLER
Sports Editor

Ashley Gentile knew all of the particulars on this home field win streak the SUNY Cortland women’s lacrosse team has built up in impressive fashion.
After the defending national champion Red Dragons disposed of visiting Ithaca College with relative 18-4 ease in Tuesday afternoon’s home opener, the senior midfielder out of Baldwinsville had no trouble reeling off the numbers.
Gentile was well aware that after her squad jumped out to a 12-0 halftime lead, going on to score the game’s opening 15 goals before the Bombers could get on the scoreboard, Cortland had claimed its 68th consecutive home field victim. She even rattled off the date of the Red Dragons’ last home loss on their Stadium Complex home turf, Hamilton College pulling out an 8-7 victory on that March 23 afternoon back in 2010.
“I’m a senior and we haven’t lost (at home) yet, so we want to keep that intact,” said Gentile, who scored four goals and won 13 of the 20 draws she took for this 2-0 Cortland squad ranked No. 1 nationally in Division III.
Of course, Cortland head coach Kelly Lickert-Orr would rather look ahead than in the past.
“I know there is one, but I don’t know the number because I refuse to care,” said Lickert-Orr with a good-natured smile when asked about the win streak, preferring that Cortland focus on upcoming games.
“I don’t want the added pressure,” she added. “They need to worry about the things they can control, not a number that’s sitting out there.”
Starting with a Thursday trip to Schenectady to take on Union College, Cortland will play three tough foes over an eight-day stretch. That is what matters most to Coach Lickert-Orr, the Red Dragons also facing Catholic Sunday on Long Island before heading to Massachusetts to play Tufts next Wednesday.
In this week’s Division III poll, Tufts is ranked 10th, Catholic 17th and Union 18th.
Ithaca figured to be a challenge, too. Under first-year head coach Karrie Moore, the Bombers (1-1) were coming to town off an impressive 15-7 victory over St Lawrence.
But starting with a Kristen Ohberg goal in the opening minute, Cortland had few concerns. Junior attack Ohberg was headed towards a three-goal and two-assist outing, while the Red Dragons also got two-goal games from Tara Monaghan, Nicole Bello, Carly Stone and Megan Gonzalez during a 35-shot offensive.
“THIS WAS A TEAM, from a coaching standpoint, that on paper they’re very good,” said Lickert-Orr of the Bombers, IC having earned some votes in the national poll this week. “Watching their game film, they executed and did all the right things against St. Lawrence.
“I was a little bit shocked how we came out in the first half,” she added. “Last year, that really wasn’t the way we played. We let the other teams get the lead on us in the first half and then we decided to play. We flipped the script a little bit today.”
Over the opening nine minutes the Red Dragons scored six times and took advantage of several early Ithaca turnovers. After Ohberg’s ice-breaker, Gentile finished off a free position scoring chance following an Cortland take-away, Ohberg emerged from behind the crease to tuck in a goal, Monaghan drew a foul charging towards goal and cashed in from the free position, Gentile rolled in front of the goal to convert and Makenzie Annable one-hopped a shot past the opposing goalie.
The rout was on.
When Ithaca finally did mount some first half offense, the Bombers had their first three shots denied by Cortland goalie Jackie Beshlian. The junior finished with six saves overall, Ithaca kept off the scoreboard until junior midfielder Morgan Cadwell swept in front and scored eight minutes into the second half.
“That was a game-changer, right off the back, when you have a couple of saves,” said Coach Lickert-Orr of those early saves by Beshlian, last week’s SUNY Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Week. “She did a great job of stepping up in the cage for us.”
Cadwell, Riley Marion, Morgan Racicot and Alison Panara were the second half goal-scorers for Ithaca.
“FROM AN OFFENSIVE standout, we definitely did a better job of commanding the ball and knowing what we wanted to do once we had it instead of going through the motions,” said Lickert-Orr, feeling some improvement was shown coming off a 15-5 win at Clarkson this past weekend.
Hannah Elmer and Allyson McNerney also netted goals for the Red Dragons against Ithaca, the winners collecting eight assists including two from Kaitlin Antelmi.
Having Gentile give Cortland an edge in draws was vital, too.
“That was obviously a big question mark going into the season, who’s going to take the draws for us and are we going to be successful with it,” said Coach Lickert-Orr, graduated All-American Emma Hayes-Hurley handling those chores a year ago. “Ash has really stepped into the role and she’s been doing well with it. We have two, three other players who care comfortable taking them. It’s just a matter of them getting more reps so game time they’re ready.”
“I used to do them in high school, but I’ve learned a lot from her (Hayes-Hurley) last year,” said Gentile.
So Cortland carries on, not having to worry about this home field winning streak for a while but still carrying around the target of being defending national champions.
“We definitely have to work a lot harder because we have everything to lose, basically,” said Gentile of the challenges facing Cortland this season. “We’ve got three good games coming up at the beginning of the season and then we’re going to have to keep the intensity because we have to go through the SUNYAC.”

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