May 7, 2009
Strong start for Red Dragons
Torre sets scoring record in romp
Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
SUNY Cortland’s Danielle Torre (21) is defended by CMS’s Kaitlyn Desai (17) in the first half of Wednesday’s NCAA tournament game. Torre had three goals and four assists in the 23-8 Red Dragons win.
SUNY Cortland record-setter Danielle Torre offered up a simple formula for achieving success in the pressure-packed NCAA Division III lacrosse tournament.
“It’s all about trust and faith,” insisted the senior sparkplug of the positive Red Dragons post-season mind-set after she played a leading role in Wednesday’s 23-8 romp past an overmatched Claremont-Mudds-Scripps Colleges squad in an opening round contest.
Cortland scored seven unanswered goals over the opening six minutes of play, showed plenty of trust and faith while coming up with a dozen assists while putting on an open-field passing clinic and displayed the vast difference between East Coast and West Coast women’s lacrosse.
“It’s a different pace,” admitted losing coach Sarah Queener after the uniquely nicknamed Athenas from California suffered just their second loss in a season highlighted by 12 victories. The other loss also came against an eastern opponent, the visitors on an eight-game win streak since a 15-7 loss to Connecticut College.
Claremont-Mudds-Scripps could not keep up the torrid pace set by these Red Dragons, who were especially adept at creating transition scoring chances — and cashing in on most of those opportunities with some unselfish passing.
“We had a couple of textbook goals and they made us smile because we’ve been working hard on that,” said first year Cortland coach Kathy Taylor after her 14-6 squad advanced into this weekend’s regional being hosted by The College of New Jersey.
There were contributions from the usual cast of Cortland characters, starting with Torre’s four assists and three goals. In her second year as a Red Dragon, the Long Islander became the first player in school history to surpass 100 points in a single campaign with a school-record 77 goals and 28 assists.
Lindsay Abbott added on to her impressive freshman season with four goals and an assist, while junior midfielder Jess Fritz gave the Athenas defense fits with three goals-three assist performance. Sophomore Megan Clare had had a big day with three goals and two assists, while Brianna Shost also netted three goals.
More important was the 7-zip getaway before Claremont-Mudds-Scripps could get acclimated on this gray and relatively chilly afternoon. Torre had two goals and two assists then, with Abbott also scoring twice. Those seven goals came on the opening eight shots taken by the Sports Complex hosts, most coming in unsettled situations.
“We did come out thinking this could be our last game, so we wanted to come out strong, come out on fire,” said Torre, that mission certainly accomplished.
“I WAS SO PLEASED with how we transitioned the ball today, because we’ve worked had on that,” said Coach Taylor. “We’ve had a glimmer that it was coming along, but I really feel that the difference today was the way we pushed the ball up the field.”
Despite that quick start, Claremont-Mudds-Script recovered its poise and out-scored the Red Dragons by a 5-2 margin over a 12-minute span. When Kelsey Avolos-Feehan came up with a ground ball in a scramble in front of the Red Dragon crease and scored, the Cortland lead was trimmed to 10-5 and Coach Taylor called for a timeout with 10:29 still to go in the first half.
Cortland seemed to halt the momentum with goals from Abbott and Clare — the latter coming after a save by freshman goalie Brianna Straut led to one of those textbook goals started with an Abbott clearing gallop and a nifty Torre fast break assist. But with the final seconds ticking off the clock, a desperate pass from Molly Murtaugh from midfield somehow got to teammate Colbi Brawner in front of the Red Dragons goal. Brawner converted one of her three goals on the day at 0:03 and the California squad was within 12-6 heading into the halftime breather.
“We felt like if we had the ball we could get a few things accomplished,” said Coach Queener of her C-M-S squad. “Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. We couldn’t stop ball on defense. They move the ball so well and shoot the ball really well.”
Starting with a Fritz goal off a free position scoring chance, Cortland put the game away by scoring the opening eight goals of the second half. Second half scoring chances were few for Claremont-Mudds-Scripps against a Red Dragon defense led by seniors Casey Costello and Lindsay Bakker — who each forced three turnovers during the game.
Cortland finished with a 42-22 shot edge as the offense also got two-goal contributions from Nicki Mahoney, Meghan Gallagher and Alyssa Hoover, while Jordan Miller was part of the first half goal-scoring.
“They are just faster passing the ball, a quicker team with their sticks, and they’re physically stronger than we are,” is how Athenas coach Queener saw things.
NOW CORTLAND gets a rematch with The College of New Jersey (15-2) at 11:30 a.m. this Saturday, having lost to the Lions 16-10 earlier this year. In that game, the Red Dragons trailed 7-1 at halftime.
“The first half was definitely not our best,” remembers Torre. “If we play them like we did in the second half then we’ve got a good chance of giving them a run for their money.”
“We’re excited to still be playing,” said Coach Taylor of facing TCNJ, Cortland having beaten top-seed Buffalo State last weekend to win the SUNY Athletic Conference playoff title and earn an automatic bid in this NCAA tournament. “We’re in a good place going into it, but we know it’s going to be a big challenge.”
After the Cortland-TCNJ contest Saturday, Roanoke (16-4) takes on Gettysburg (14-3) at 2:30 p.m. The two winners will meet on Sunday, with the winner advancing to the Final Four being hosted by Roanoke in Virginia on May 16-17.
Cortland 23, C-M-S 8
SUNY Cortland 12 11 — 23
Claremont-M-S 6 2 — 8
Goals-Assists: CMS- Colbi Brawner 3-0, Molly Murtaugh 1-1, Devon Scott 1-1, Kelsey Avalos-Feehan 1-0, Cassy Delano 1-0, Rebecca Geissler 1-0, Kaitlyn Desai 0-1. Cortland- Lindsay Abbott 4-1, Danielle Torre 3-4, Jess Fritz 3-3, Megan Clare 3-2, Brianna Shost 3-0, Meghan Gallagher 2-2, Alyssa Hoover 2-0, Nicki Mahoney 2-0, Jordan Miller 0-1
Shots: Cortland 42, C-M-S 22
Ground Balls: Cortland 18, C-M-S 14
Clears: Cortland 18-of-24, C-M-S 11-of-15
Draw Controls: Cortland 19, C-M-S 13
Saves: Katie Campbell-Morrison (C-M-S) 10, Brianna Straut (Cort) 6, Amanda Caloia (Cort) 3
Big savings on Dell’s most popular laptops. Now starting
To read this article and more, pick up today's Cortland Standard
Click here to subscribe