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April 20, 2016

 

Dragons surge past Brockport 17-7

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Bob Ellis/staff photographer
Cortland High grad Liza Ferro, now a sophomore midfielder at SUNY Cortland, reaches out to grab the ball following a faceoff against Brockport’s Ciara McKeon (33) Tuesday.

By ALAN BUTLER
Sports Editor

As befits the defending national champion, the SUNY Cortland women’s lacrosse team relishes a challenge.
So in a crucial conference match-up between the only two unbeaten Division III lacrosse teams remaining in the nation, which was a 6-6 up-for-grabs standoff at halftime, the Red Dragons responded with a huge final 30 minutes to put away visiting Brockport by a convincing 17-7 margin on Tuesday afternoon.
“I do, I love it,” said Cortland senior defender and team captain Colleen Wright of taking on tough tasks like this SUNY Athletic Conference showdown at the Stadium Complex. “Just take a deep breath and go for it.”
That’s what the No. 1 nationally ranked Red Dragons did, turning a halftime stalemate into a runaway victory by scoring 10 unanswered second half goals while improving to 5-0 in the SUNYAC standings and an unblemished 13-0 overall.
With senior Ashley Gentile scoring a game-high five goals, with junior goalie Jaclyn Beshlian coming up with a career-high 14 saves, and with Wright silencing top Brockport scorer Kelly Wall after intermission, Cortland has now won 71 straight home-field and 54 consecutive regular-season conference contests.
“We just stuck to our game plan. We knew what we needed to do to execute,” said Cortland coach Kelly Lickert-Orr, whose team trailed on four different first half occasions to the No. 11 nationally-ranked Golden Eagles.
“The first half was a great game. They were able to run with us in the first half, but I think our conditioning is a step above,” added Lickert-Orr. “That was the difference in the second half. We didn’t really do much to adjust. We cleaned it up a little bit, but we didn’t do much to adjust other than just continue going at that pace.”
Cortland’s overall speed simply wore down the Golden Eagles, now 4-1 in conference play and 11-1 overall, after Wall had three goals and an assist in the first half.
“Once you feed Cortland and lose your confidence, they’re going to push the fast break and score,” said Brockport coach Stephen Wagner. “They did a really good job with that. They’re such a good team.”
BROCKPORT WON five of the opening six draws behind senior Ciara McKeon. That led Coach Likert-Orr to switch to Liza Ferro — the sophomore midfielder out of Cortland High — to take her turn trying to deal with McKeon.
“We knew Ciara is a great draw-taker, and bigger than most of our kids. She’s 5-11 and we’re small across the board,” said Lickert-Orr. “We knew that we had to have someone who could give her more of a challenge as Ash (Gentile) wasn’t winning it to where we needed. If we go straight up against Ciara we’re going to lose. Liza was able to get the draws outside just a little bit, enough to give us a chance.”
Brockport finished with a narrow 13-12 edge in draws, but Cortland did not allow McKeon to dominate.
Senior stalwart Tara Monaghan finished with three goals and an assist for Cortland, while freshman Carly Stone had a three goal hat trick. Kristen Ohberg collected four assists to go along with a pair of goals, Hannah Elmer added two goals and two assists and Makenzie Annable a pair of goals and an assist.
Cortland had turnover trouble against Brockport’s zone in the early going in a first half that featured 2-2, 3-3, 4-4, 5-5 and 6-6 ties — the latter coming on junior Annable’s rifled free position shot with 1:32 left in that opening stanza.
That was the first of 11 unanswered goals by the Red Dragons, who finally figured out how to attack the visitors. Gentile struck for four goals over the opening 15 minutes of the second half as the Red Dragons pulled away.
“Even though we know what teams are going to do, we tend to struggle with the zone early on. And it’s happened in every single game that we’ve faced a zone,” noted Lickert-Orr. “We struggle early on and we make the adjustments — they already know what they need to be doing — and go from there.”
“I FELT LIKE WE had a point to prove, and we came out pretty much on fire,” said Wright of her team’s second half turnaround.
Goalie Breshlian stopped 10 of Brockport’s 11 second half shots, including a couple of crucial early saves that triggered Cortland’s turnaround.
Annable found Gentile open in front to put Cortland ahead to stay at 7-6 just 2:15 into the second half. Gentile swept to her right and scored — leading to a quick Brockport time-out.
That break did now slow down Cortland.
Monaghan converted a pass from Ohberg in front, rookie Stone scored back-to-back goals, Elmer emerged from behind the net to tick in a goal and Gentile put away two more shots — off Ohberg and Monaghan assists — to put Cortland in 14-6 control at the midway point of the second half.
“Our defense kind of fell apart, and I don’t think it was our strongest effort out there in the second half. But mostly we have to finish off the opportunities we have,” said Brockport’s Wagner, whose team was only out-shot by a narrow 30-27 margin.
Samantha Dooling scored with 25 seconds left as Brockport avoided being blanked in the second half, though Cortland responded with Ohberg getting the game’s final goal with three ticks still on the clock. Dooling and Makensie Schuber had two-goal outings for the visitors, who have Cortland High grad Taylor Thomas on their roster.
Being tested as fine with Cortland, too. Or as Lickert-Orr points out: “It helps prep us for post-season.”
Cortland still has to wrap up a SUNYAC regular season title, and travels to Geneseo in a make-up game on Thursday.
“We have a day to prep and be ready for Geneseo,” said Lickert-Orr, the Knights staying unbeaten in conference play with an 8-3 win over Fredonia yesterday. “The good thing is our scout (plan) has been ready for two weeks since the game got postponed. There are some things we have to touch up, but we’re ready to go.”

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