May 9, 2013
Red Dragons breeze to begin NCAA play
Cortland to host weekend four-team regional
At least SUNY Cortland freshmen Colleen Dougherty, Ashley Gentile and Elise Bennett will have this tidbit forever on their lacrosse resumes.
That trio can now boast that their first collegiate goals came during the NCAA Division III tournament, as those rookies were among the 15 Red Dragons who contributed to the scoring in Wednesday afternoon’s first round mismatch.
Cortland women conquered visiting Keuka College with 23-2 ease to get the post-season underway at the Stadium Complex, scoring 13 unanswered goals over one stretch while securing a 16th consecutive victory.
Cortland, now 19-1 and ranked fourth in the nation, has not stumbled since losing to No. 2 ranked Salisbury way back on March 13.
“The firsts are special, and you can’t do that in practice and feel good about it,” said Cortland coach Kathy Taylor of those goals scored by Dougherty, Gentile and Bennett. “So we felt good about our freshmen having opportunities and just very simply the opportunity to play a complete team.”
Two additional freshmen who are more of a fixture in Coach Taylor’s line-up also had big games, as Tara Monaghan scored a team-high four goals and Erica Geremia finished one shy of her own school record with seven assists. They were part of a Cortland assault that fired off 50 shots towards Keuka College goalie Molly Hogan, who played well in defeat with 13 saves.
The Red Dragons will now host a four-team regional this weekend back at the Stadium Complex. Cortland and Adrian (17-2) will meet in an 11 a.m. second round game, while Geneseo (13-5) takes on Bowdoin (14-3) at 1 p.m to complete the doubleheader.
Saturday’s winners will play at 1 p.m Sunday in a quarterfinal round contest, with the survivor moving on to the Final Four on May 18-19 being hosted by Stevenson University in Maryland.
SENIOR STALWART Maria Di Fato scored the day’s first goal off Geremia’s first assist a mere two minutes and 10 seconds into the game, and then struck again 13 seconds later to get Cortland going.
Sophomore Emma Hayes-Hurley started on a two-goal, two-assist showing with a free position connection less than a minute later for a quick 3-0 lead.
Keuka’s first shot of the game moments later produced a Kaycee Maquire goal and a glimmer of hope for the Storm, who came into the game with a 13-3 record and fresh off a 20-3 win over Medaille in the North Eastern Athletic Conference title game.
The Storm would only get four more shots the rest of the way, however.
With top Keuka scorer Maggie Bonafede being taken out of the game by top Cortland defender Jessica Lavelle — who was coming off an MVP performance as the Red Dragons were claming their 15th straight SUNY Athletic Conference playoff title this past weekend — the visitors could not match Cortland’s firepower.
After that early Keuka success, the game’s next 13 goals came off Cortland sticks. The lead swelled to 15-1 by the time halftime arrived, with Monaghan scoring just 12 seconds into the second stanza before Keuka ended the streak with a Taylor Smith’s 70th tally of the season.
Bonafede would not even get a possession until six minutes remained in the game, and even then was stripped of the ball by Cortland freshman reserve Kerry Bretti to the delight of her teammates.
“She’s our number one feeder, so they did a great job shutting her down,” said Keuka coach Kelly Lickert-Orr, as junior Bonafede came into the game with a school record 69 assists to go along with 29 goals.
“Overall, the speed and numbers Cortland has is what hurt us overall,” added Lickert-Orr, pointing out she had five bench players compared to the 28 players suited up for the Red Dragons. “We just couldn’t run with them as much as we wanted to. We tried and gave everything we had, but we couldn’t run with them.”
CORTLAND SPREAD the scoring around, including junior Taylor Reh’s three-goal hat trick. Dougherty finished with a pair of goals, while junior Liz Beville, sophomore Marilyn Farrell and freshman Alex Fritz had a goal and an assist apiece.
Geremia also had a goal to go along with her bunch of assists, with the long list of Cortland scorers also including Taylor Robinson, Gina Campese, Nicole Bello and Taylor Harney.
A Red Dragons defense missing senior starter Jamie Flood due to illness did not have much to do, as second half goalies Liz Ingalls and Andrea Moore did not have a save to their credit while allowing just the lone Smith goal.
Cortland has reached at least the second round now in 14 consecutive NCAA tournaments, and has been in the Final Four the past two campaigns. Keuka was making its first-ever appearance in the ‘Big Dance.’
“It’s definitely something we want to shoot for next season and the years to come. It’s been a goal of mine at the coaching end to get to the NCAA tournament,” said Keuka’s Lickert-Orr.
“As I player (with Division II Limestone) I got there, and last year we were right within a shot and just missed out in triple overtime to a great conference rival,” she added, referring to a frustrating loss to Morrisville State. “This year to make it, it was a great accomplishment.”
It was also a great day for Cortland, though things will get harder down the road while pursuing another Final Four berth and a national championship.
“I’m very excited about the development of our young team and the opportunity to host a regional. It’s the best time of year to be playing,” said Cortland’s Taylor. “It was a great team day for us and we hope to build on that as we head into the weekend.”
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