Amherst Set to Host NCAA Women's Lacrosse Regional

May 7, 2001

AMHERST, Mass. - Despite falling to top-ranked Middlebury College in Sunday's NESCAC championship game, the Amherst College women's lacrosse team, the number-two team in the country in the latest national poll, earned its thirdever bid to the NCAA Tournament on Sunday night, and will host one of the tourney's four four-team regionals on Hitchcock Field next weekend. The Jeffs are paired with Wellesley College, champions of the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) in Saturday's first regional semifinal, while St. Mary's College of Maryland and Ithaca College, who both received independent bids to the 16-team NCAA field, will face each other in the nightcap. For Amherst, St. Mary's and Wellesley, this is the third NCAA appearance all-time, while Ithaca College is making its fifth trip to the national tournament.

NCAA Regional Semifinals - Saturday, May 12, 2001, at Amherst College, Amherst, Massachusetts 

Game 1 - Wellesley College (14-3) at #2 Amherst College (14-2), Hitchcock Field, 12:00 p.m. 
Saturday's first regional semifinal features a pair of familiar opponents in Amherst and Wellesley, coming one month to the day of Amherst's 17-8 victory over the Blue in Amherst on April 12. Wellesley received an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament courtesy of a 13-10 win over Springfield College in the NEWMAC championship, while the Jeffs picked up the lone at-large bid in the 16-team field after finishing second in the NESCAC to top-ranked Middlebury College, with their only two losses (against 14 wins) coming to the Panthers. 

Wellesley, making its second-consecutive NCAA appearance and its third trip overall, enters Saturday's game as one of the hottest teams in the nation, with the loss to the Jeffs coming as the only blemish in the Blue's last 11 games. Junior Claudia Veritas (Goffstown, NH) has been Wellesley's primary scoring threat, exploding for 54 goals and a school-record 32 assists on the season. Sophomore Lisa Andruszkiewicz (Beverly, MA) has also been a big part of Wellesley's success during the 2001 campaign, surpassing the 40-goal mark for the season, while classmate Grace Tsan (Delmar, NY), who scored three goals and had two assists in the mid-season loss to Amherst, has come alive during the post-season, scoring 12 times in the squad's two NEWMAC Tournament games. 

Defensively, the Blue look to senior co-captain Ali Feldon (New York, NY) and first-year goalkeeper Alissa Gordon (Sudbury, MA), who led the NEWMAC with a 7.41 goals-against-average during the regular season, stopping 51 percent of the shots she faced. Wellesley, who also went to the NCAA Tournament in 1990, lost to Williams College, 19-9, in last year's NCAA regional semifinals, and is 0-2 all-time in NCAA Tournament games. 

Amherst, 3-2 in NCAA Tournament play, is also making its third NCAA appearance, after a trip to the regional semifinals in 1996 and a dramatic run to the NCAA championship game in 1999. The Jeffs come into the NCAA Tournament as the number-two team in the nation, having secured the lone at-large bid with a pair of wins in a one-week span over fourth-ranked Williams College, including a 9-6 victory in Saturday's NESCAC semifinals. Overall, the Jeffs had won nine consecutive games before Sunday's loss to top-ranked Middlebury, as Amherst has already matched a school record with 14 wins on the season. 

Leading the Amherst attack is the College's all-time leading scorer, senior co-captain Kristin Osborn (Morristown, NJ). Osborn comes into the NCAA Tournament one goal shy of her own single-season school goal-scorimg record, with 50 tallies and 19 assists, and six points away from the 250-point mark for her career. Osborn has not been Amherst's lone weapon, however, as the Jeffs boast four players with 20 or more goals, including sophomore Abby Ouimet (Hatfield, MA), who has a NESCAC-high 30 assists in addition to her 31 goals, sophomore Erin Beaumont (Summit, NJ), who has 20 goals and 27 assists, and senior Sarah Scheessele (Pittsburgh, PA), who has 38 goals and eight assists on the season. 

Defensively, senior co-captain Alison Kitay (Washington, DC) and juniors Cara Coscarelli (W. Hartford, CT) and Carrie Foster (Warsaw, OH) have been stellar in front of Amherst's goalkeeping tandem of senior Jess Thaxton (Wayland, MA) and sophomore Brooke Diamond (Longmeadow, MA). Diamond, who was named Inside Lacrosse Division III Player of the Week last week after posting a career-high 11 saves in Amherst's 8-7 double-overtime win at Williams, has posted a 5.67 goals-against-average (GAA) in 476 minutes of play, while Thaxton has 55 saves in 492 minutes with an 8.17 GAA. 

In their April 12 meeting, the Jeffs led 8-2 at halftime, and led by as many as 11 (13-2), before a late Wellesley surge accounted for the 17-8 final. Ouimet finished with six goals and an assist, Osborn scored four goals and added two helpers, and Scheessele netted a hat trick and an assist, as the Jeffs outshot the Blue by a 31-14 margin en route to the nine-goal victory.

Game 2 - Ithaca College (14-3) vs. St. Mary's College of Maryland (11-3), Hitchcock Field, 3:00 p.m.
Whereas Saturday's first semifinal features two familiar opponents in a match-up of a team with an automatic bid and a team with an at-large berth, the second contest on Saturday afternoon features a pair of less-familiar foes in Ithaca College and St. Mary's College of Maryland, two of the five independent teams in the 16-team NCAA Tournament field. 

Ithaca, making their fifth trip all-time to the NCAA Tournament, comes into Saturday's regionals winners of eight games in a row, including a 7-4 victory over Cortland State, also an NCAA Tournament team, in Sunday's New York State Women's Collegiate Athletic Association (NYSWCAA) championship. The win avenged one of the Bombers' three losses during the regular season, with their other two defeats coming at the hands of RIT and William Smith College. 

Leading the Bomber offense is a quartet of four 30-goal scorers, with senior co-captain Kelly Bliss (Tully, NY) posting a team-best 54 points on 30 goals and 24 assists. First-year midfielder Michelle Schlegel (Liverpool, NY) has a team-high 35 goals in addition to her 14 helpers, while sophomores Erica Granzin (Rochester, NY) and Jessica Welch (Ithaca, NY) have combined for 63 goals and 15 assists on the season for 18th-ranked Ithaca. 

Defensively, Ithaca has been paced by the duo of senior co-captain Becky Carver (Boyertown, PA) and sophomore Alina Lacey-Verona (Ithaca, NY), who have been stellar in front of senior co-captain goalie Brooke Andrews (Groton, MA). Andrews, who was named the NYSWCAA Tournament MVP after posting 16 saves against four goals allowed in Sunday's 7-4 win over Cortland, has stopped an incredible 66.3 percent of the shots she's faced, posting a 5.46 goals-against-average on the season. 

The Bombers have also been to the NCAA Tournament in 1989, 1993, 1997 and 1998, but are still looking for their first-ever NCAA Tournament win, with an 0-4 mark in their four previous appearances. 

For St. Mary's, the 2001 season has seen a dramatic turnaround from one year ago, when the Seahawks finished 7-9 under first-year Head Coach Robert Bray. Now in his second year, Bray has helped the Hawks return to the national spotlight, after the squad won a school-record nine-straight games to open the season, despite having six first-years in the opening-day starting lineup. 

The Seahawks have made their mark in close games this season, posting a 5-1 record in games decided by four goals or less, including a 9-8 triple-overtime win over Roanoke. Senior co-captain attacker Sue Welsh (Gilbertsville, PA) leads the St. Mary's offense, with 30 goals and 22 assists in the Seahawks' 14 games, while midfielder Megan McCall (Annapolis, MD), one of six freshmen starters for St. Mary's, has a team-high 39 goals and five assists. Junior co-captain Kathy Holmes (Bel Air, MD) and first-year Kate Story (Ellicott City, MD) are the two other Seahawks with 20 or more goals, combining for 42 goals and 19 assists between them. 

Defensively, the Hawks have been anchored by first-year goalkeeper Jen Chumley (Bel Air, MD), who has played every second for St. Mary's en route to a .592 save percentage and a 7.59 GAA in just over 853 minutes of action. Along with Chumley, senior co-captain Trish Taylor (Bel Air, MD) has been a mainstay of the Seahawk defense, helping St. Mary's rise as high as ninth in the national poll in the middle of the season. 

This year marks the third NCAA appearance all-time for the Seahawks, who also earned bids in 1998 and 1999. In 1998, St. Mary's defeated Washington & Lee by an 11-8 final in the first round, before an 11-7 loss to the College of New Jersey in the national quarterfinals. One year later, the Hawks dropped a 9-8 squeaker to Ursinus College in the opening round of play. 

Along with the regional at Amherst, top-ranked Middlebury, Salisbury State University and Hamilton College are the other four regional sites, with Middlebury, Salisbury and the College of New Jersey earning the other three top seeds in the tournament. 

NCAA Division III Women's Lacrosse Regional Semifinals - Saturday, May 12, 2001 

At Amherst College
Wellesley College (14-3) at #2 Amherst College (14-2) 
#7 Ithaca College (14-3) vs. St. Mary's College of Maryland (11-3) 

At Hamilton College
Drew University (14-4) vs. #3 The College of New Jersey (10-1) 
Denison University (14-3) at #6 Hamilton College (11-2) 

At Middlebury College
Plymouth State College (12-3) at #1 Middlebury College (13-0) 
Cabrini College (13-3) vs. #8 SUNY-Cortland (15-2) 

At Salisbury State University
Ursinius College (13-2) at #4 Salisbury State University (13-3) 
#5 Mary Washington College (13-4) vs. Washington & Lee University (15-2)