Ithaca Knocks Off St. Mary's in NCAA Regional at Amherst

May 12, 2001

AMHERST, Massachusetts - Ithaca College women's lacrosse sophomore Jessica Welch (Ithaca, NY) finished a pretty shovel pass from senior Bomber co-captain Kelly Bliss (Tully, NY) for what would prove to be the game-winning goal, as the Bombers rallied from a 7-2 halftime deficit to knock off St. Mary's College of Maryland, 9-8, in Saturday's NCAA Regional Semifinals at Amherst College. With the win, their first ever in an NCAA Tournament, the seventh-seeded Bombers advance to Sunday's regional finals, where they will face host and second-seeded Amherst, 20-10 victors over Wellesley College in Saturday's first game. 

From the opening draw, Saturday's second semifinal between Ithaca and St. Mary's, the first-ever meeting of the two schools, had a little bit of everything. The Seahawks jumped on the board first, courtesy of a Kate Story (Ellicott City, MD) finish 1:50 into the game. Ithaca responded with a free-position tally from junior Amy Turner (Baldwinsville, NY) at the 22:48 mark, before the Seahawks surged ahead. 

First-year St. Mary's midfielder Carol Schmoeller (Baltimore, MD) scored at the 15:46-mark, before classmate Meg McFall (Annapolis, MD) added another tally just 12 seconds later, giving the Seahawks a 3-1 lead. McFall scored again at 14:16, before Bliss got Ithaca back on the board with a free-position tally at 9:18. The Bombers had much of the better part of play in the opening half, only to have their offensive chances broken up time and again by first-year St. Mary's goalie Jen Chumley (Bel Air, MD). On the other end of the field, the Seahawks took advantage of most of their scoring chances, extending their lead to 5-2 just inside the eight-minute mark on Schmoeller's second goal of the half. 

Then, the rains came. 

A lightning-induced weather delay forced a 43-minute stoppage of play with 2:59 left in the half, which gave Ithaca time to regroup. 

"The delay definitely helped us to settle down a bit," said Bomber Head Coach Piep van Heuvan. "I think we were a little shellshocked, and the [stoppage] gave us time to regroup." Part of that regrouping included a change in defensive alignment, as the Bombers switched from zone to man-to-man coverage. The defensive switch did not immediately pay off, however, as the Seahawks added two goals in the final 1:33 of the half, including McFall's third of the half with just eight seconds left, to take a commanding 7-2 lead into halftime. 

"[Chumley] is one of the best Division III goalies I've ever seen," said van Heuvan. "The challenge for us was learning how to beat [her], and in the second half, we did a better job of it." 

Indeed, Ithaca, who outshot St. Mary's 16-10 in the first half, would continue to dominate possession after halftime, with first-year Michelle Schlegel (Liverpool, NY) scoring 38 seconds into the second period to start what would turn into a 6-0 Bomber run. Ithaca sophomore Erica Granzin (Rochester, NY) converted a free-position shot at 18:21 to close the Bombers to within three, and senior Ithaca goalie Brooke Andrews (Groton, MA), who had only posted one save in the first half, came up with four big saves midway through the second period to keep the Seahawks from widening their lead. After Granzin's goal, Welch scored to cut the deficit to 7-5, before Schlegel scored at 12:27 and 8:49 to tie the game at seven. 

The Bombers weren't done there, as Bliss capped the 6-0 surge with an unassisted goal 75 seconds later to give Ithaca its first lead of the game. St. Mary's finally answered, with sophomore attacker Robyn Novak (Bel Air, MD) tying the game at eight on an unassisted tally at 6:36, but Andrews stopped a Schmoeller stop two minutes later to keep the Seahawks from retaking the lead. Instead, the Bombers, who had seen each of their first eight goals come unassisted, finally reversed the trend, with Bliss dishing off a perfect set-up pass to Welch in a scrum in front of the goalmouth, and Welch beating Chumley for a 9-8 Ithaca edge. 

The Seahawks threatened late, and a shot from first-year Jackie Landon (Bel Air, MD) with 1:07 left bested Andrews only to harmlessly bounce off the crossbar, before a late shot from Welsh was recovered by Bomber senior Tara Lahm (Nanuet, NY), who killed the clock from there. 

With the win, their first in five NCAA appearances all-time, Ithaca, the seventh-ranked team in the NCAA Tournament and the number-ten team in the country in the latest national poll, improves to 15-3 and earns a date with the second-seeded hosts of Amherst on Sunday afternoon at 1:00 p.m. St. Mary's, who had a remarkable turn-around season after a 7-9 finish last year, finishes their 2001 campaign with a record of 11-4.

Saturday, May 12, 2001     1     2   --   F
St. Mary's College (MD) (11-4)   7     1   --   8
#7 Ithaca College (15-3)   2     7   --   9

IC - Michelle Schlegel 3, Kelly Bliss 2, Jessica Welch 2, Erica Granzin, Amy Turner; 
SMCM - Meg McFall 3, Carol Schmoeller 2, Stacy Mann, Robyn Novak, Kate Story; 

IC - Bliss; 
SMCM - Welsh 2, Kathy Holmes, Mann, Novak; 

IC - Brooke Andrews, 7 saves (8 ga, 60:00); 
SMCM - Jen Chumley, 12 saves (9 ga, 60:00); 

Shots: IC 38, SMCM 19;
Ground Balls: IC 21, SMCM 25;
Turnovers: IC 12, SMCM 15;
Draw Controls: IC 12, SMCM 7;
Fouls: IC 8, SMCM 20;
Cards: SMCM 1, Welsh (Yellow, 2-29:07);