May 23, 2016
Dragons breeze into Final Four
Bob Ellis/staff photographer
SUNY Cortland’s Kristen Ohberg fires one of her six goals past Catholic goalie Christina De Cesaris in Sunday’s NCAA quarterfinals.
There was no need for a halftime history lesson.
The undefeated SUNY Cortland women’s lacrosse team team did not have to be reminded about last year’s NCAA Division III playoffs, when a big halftime lead was almost frittered away before hanging on for a 13-12 win over Catholic University.
In this quarterfinal round rematch between those same two schools at this same SUNY Cortland Stadium Complex locale on Sunday afternoon, the Red Dragons were ahead 9-1 at halftime against the Crusaders out of Washington, D.C. and pretty well focused on not having a repeat performance.
So when veteran stalwarts Tara Monaghan, Kristen Ohberg and Ashley Gentile all scored within the opening two minutes of the second half, Cortland was well on its way of securing a lopsided 18-2 victory over Catholic to move on to the Final Four for a sixth consecutive season.
“No, they knew,” said Cortland head coach Kelly Lickert-Orr of not having to discuss last year’s game during intermission.
“It wasn’t one of those things that had to be brought up or mentioned, because they know,” she added. “I’m not entirely sure, but I’m pretty sure it was 9-1 going into half or a very similar score last year, so they knew what was at stake and that they had to complete the game and play the last 30 minutes.”
Cortland actually led 9-2 at halftime last May before a Catholic revival nearly pulled off a comeback victory, which is the closest anyone has come in derailing this Cortland juggernaut that has now won 40 consecutive games including last year’s national championship contest.
“We knew last year how they came back so fast, but we wanted to come out like it was a 0-0 game and just like we were starting at the beginning,” said midfielder Gentile of Cortland’s halftime mood, as the senior contributed two goals and an assist to this victory.
So now Cortland (21-0) is headed to another tournament rematch, to face Vermont’s Middlebury College (20-1) in this coming Saturday’s 1 p.m. semifinal game being played at Talen Energy Field in Chester, Pennsylvania — which is located outside of Philadelphia. The winner advances into Sunday’s 3:30 p.m. title game, to face the winner of the other semifinal pitting Connecticut’s Trinity College (18-3) against Pennsylvania’s Franklin & Marshall (21-2).
CORTLAND HAS BEEN dominant since winning the SUNY Athletic Conference title to get May underway, having out-scored three NCAA tournament foes by a combined scored of 56-10. That included Saturday’s third round victory over Pomona-Pitzer as part of a Stadium Complex doubleheader, winning 21-7 before Catholic advanced with a 12-10 win over Springfield College out of Massachusetts.
In the romp past Catholic, junior Ohberg scored six goals and handed out an assist, while fellow attack Hannah Elmer had five assists and a goal as part of a 39-shot barrage. Monaghan, Elizabeth LaComb and Elise Bennett all had two-goal outings, with Nicole Bello, Carly Stone and KatieWolfe also netted goals for the Red Dragons.
“I wouldn’t say too easy,” said Ohberg when asked about how Cortland has handled its first three NCAA opponents.
“There’s always something to work on and I think we’re just meshing, really,” added the junior out of Brewster, who scored four of Cortland’s firstseven goals and assisted on another during a quick getaway. “We take one game at a time and it’s games like these that we thrive and we play for. We want the competition, so we’re ready for whatever is thrown at us.”
Cortland led 8-0 before Catholic countered, Emily Merkel slipping a shot under Red Dragons goalie Jaclyn Beshlian. Cortland scored the first eight goals of the second half before Alexis Bosilovic scored on a free position scoring chance with just under six minutes to play.
Outside of those two scores, Catholic was stymied by turnovers created by Cortland’s constant harassment, a steady defense led again by senior Colleen Wright and Beshlian’s inspired play in goal which resulted in nine often stellar saves.
IN OHBERG’S MIND, Catholic (13-8) provided a true test for a Cortland team that how now won 40 consecutive games and 78 consecutive home contests.“I think the score didn’t reflect how well they played against us,” said Ohberg. “We knew coming into this that we’d have to show our best and play our best, and I think we definitely came out today wanting it.”
Cortland’s post-season experience and overall depth is certainly a huge plus.
“I feel like we have a lot of talent on this team, so everyone works off each other in practice,” said Gentile. “It really helps us every day, like working with Tara (Monaghan) for four years now has really helped me out, to how I am today.”
So Cortland heads to the outskirts of Philly feeling pretty good about itself.
Is this the best Cortland has played all season?‘Pretty close,” was the Lickert-Orr response to that question. “Today there were very few errors so it was a good game for us.”
Cortland 21, Pomona-Pitzer 7: Scoring the final six goals of the opening half, the Red Dragons grabbed a 13-5 by intermission and coasted past their California counterpart in a third round match-up on Saturday.
Gentile scored five times and picked up an assist for the Red Dragons, while Ohberg had four goals and four assists in a game where the hosts held a 43-21 commanding shot advantage.
Monaghan and LaComb had three goals apiece, Elmer tallied twice and picked up three assists and Nicole Bello had a couple of helpers along with a goal. Makenzie Annable, Wolfe and Megan Gonzales were other Red Dragon goal scorers.
Lilly Thomey topped Pomona-Pitzer with three goals.
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