May 4, 2010

Trinity in Search of First Women's Lacrosse Title

Two-Time Defending Champ Colby Returns for Shot at Third Title

HADLEY, Mass. – Top-seeded Trinity College will be in pursuit of its first conference crown when the Bantams host the final rounds of the 2010 NESCAC Women’s Lacrosse Championship at Sheppard Field in Hartford, Conn. The action begins at 12:00 p.m. this Saturday, May 8, when Trinity faces seventh seed Williams in the first semifinal, followed by third seed and two-time defending NESCAC champion Colby battling fourth seed Amherst. The 2010 NESCAC Women’s Lacrosse Championship wraps up on Sunday, May 9, with the final getting underway at 12:00 p.m.

Trinity (13-2, 7-2 NESCAC) is back in the semifinals for the second time in three years thanks to a 16-6 decision over eighth-seeded Bates in the quarterfinals. The win added another chapter to the remarkable season the Bantams have enjoyed, as it set a new program mark for victories in a single season at 13. Trinity opened up the year with eight consecutive victories before suffering its first loss of the season, 11-9 to Tufts, and also recorded its first win over Middlebury since 1989 this spring - a span of 19 games - with a 12-8 win. The Bantams locked up the number-one seed in the NESCAC tournament for the first time ever nearly two weeks ago by virtue of a 10-5 victory against the Bobcats. A big part of Trinity’s success this season has been its defense, as the Bantams currently lead the league with a 6.93 goals against average and rank third in caused turnovers with 10.33 per game. As good as they are against teams with the ball, the Bantams are equally impressive in holding on to it with a league-low 13.27 turnovers per game. Hoping to lead Trinity back to Sunday’s final for only the second time in postseason history is sophomore midfielder Liz Bruno (Andover, Mass.). Bruno’s impact can be felt all over the field for the Bantams, as she currently leads the NESCAC in ground balls (3.07 per game) and caused turnovers (3.18) while chipping in 10 goals and 18 draw controls. On attack, junior Caite Irvine (Westwood, Mass.) heads up the offense with 45 points on 35 goals and 10 assists. The question for Trinity will be the availability of junior Rachel Romanowsky (Hampstead, N.H.) this weekend. The Bantams’ second leading scorer (25-17-42) has been limited late in the season due to injury.

Looking to spoil Trinity’s attempt to reach the finals will be its tournament nemesis - seventh-seeded Williams (10-6, 4-5 NESCAC). The memories from recent meetings are probably still fresh for the Bantams, as the Ephs have ousted Trinity twice over the past three years and own a 3-0 all-time record in tournament play against their semifinal opponent. During the 2007 first round, Williams recovered from an 11-5 deficit midway through the second half and shocked second-seeded Trinity 14-13 in overtime. Last year, the fifth-seeded Ephs managed to edge the Bantams once again, this time by a 15-13 score. No team in the conference championship has a better record in the first round than Williams, a fact it proved on Sunday at Bowdoin with a 14-12, come-from-behind victory that moved it to 9-0 in the opening round. Yet with all their first round success, the Ephs had never made it to the final before last year when it upset top-seeded Tufts in the semis, 11-10 in overtime, then came oh-so-close to knocking off defending champ Colby, 12-10. Since falling 12-5 at Trinity on April 3, the Ephs have won seven of their last nine games with the two losses both by one goal. For the second spring in a row, a first year player is leading Williams in scoring heading into the NESCAC semifinals. Rookie Samantha Weinstein (Marblehead, Mass.) is second among all conference players in goals with 45 and ranks 11th in overall points with 47 (45-2-47). Sophomore Kaitlin Ellis (Darien, Conn.) has become a key component in the Eph offense as of late, as she sits just behind Weinstein on the Williams stat sheet with 43 points (15-28-43). Ellis has also contributed 17 draw controls, caused 17 turnovers, and scooped 19 ground balls.

Colby (12-3, 6-3 NESCAC) will be making its fourth consecutive appearance in the conference semifinals, the longest active streak after the Mules ended sixth-seeded Middlebury’s nine-year final four run on Sunday. The two-time defending NESCAC champions added another epic to their postseason rivalry with the Panthers with a 9-8 victory. Colby’s ascent to the top of the conference can be seen over the past few years. In 2007, the Mules advanced to the tournament final for the first time ever. A year later, Colby won the league crown over Trinity, 14-12, then successfully defended its title last year. Surprisingly, all of that success has come on the road for the Mules, who head into the weekend with an impressive 18-0 record away from Waterville since the start of 2009. While Colby will be without the services of two-time NESCAC Player of the Year Kate Sheridan, who graduated last May, the Mules still have plenty of weapons in their arsenal. Senior attacker Amy Campbell (North Andover, Mass.) is among the top five players in the conference in both goals (40) and points (53) this season, while classmate Kathleen  Kramer (Norwell, Mass.) ranks behind Campbell for Colby in scoring with 28 goals and five assists for 33 points. Sixteen of Kramer’s 28 tallies have come over the Mules’ last five games.

After missing out on the semifinals a year ago, fourth-seeded Amherst (11-4, 6-3 NESCAC) is back riding a four-game winning streak after an 11-9 victory against Tufts on Sunday. The Lord Jeffs have managed to win some close games this season, going 5-1 in contests decided by two goals or less, most recently overcoming Trinity 5-4 on April 30. Amherst heads into Saturday’s date with the defending champs looking for its first win over Colby since a 12-11 overtime victory in Waterville in 2006. The Jeffs’ winless skid against the Mules was extended to five games just over two weeks ago when Colby earned a 9-4 decision at home on April 17. Amherst was once a regular in the NESCAC final, appearing in the championship alongside Middlebury the first five years the tournament was held. Since then, the Jeffs have come close but fallen short on three separate occasions, missing out in overtime in 2006 and again in 2008 and succumbing in 2007 in the only previous playoff meeting with Colby, 10-8. While the offense isn’t as flashy as the other teams in the conference, the defense ranks second only to Trinity with a 7.28 goals against average. Sophomore netminder Lamia Harik (Rye Brook, N.Y.) has played all but 91 seconds this season in net for the Jeffs and owns a 7.30 goals against average, while classmate Meredith LaRose (Cranford, N.J.) leads her squad with 37 caused turnovers and 36 draw controls in the field. Up front, junior Kelley Trapp paces a balanced offense by distributing the ball well. Trapp’s career-high 30 assists rank second among NESCAC players, as she has a team-best 41 points.

2010 NESCAC WOMEN’S LACROSSE CHAMPIONSHIP
Semifinals - Saturday, May 8 at Trinity
No. 7 Williams at No. 1 Trinity - 12:00 p.m.
No. 4 Amherst vs. No. 3 Colby - 2:30 p.m.

Championship - Sunday, May 9 at Trinity
Semifinal Winners - 12:00 p.m.

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