Jeffs Advance to Div. III Final Four With 13-6 Win Over Ithaca

May 13, 2001

AMHERST, Massachusetts - First-year Amherst College attacker Allison Aldrich (Cornwall, VT) scored a career-high four goals, and senior Jeff co-captain Kristin Osborn (Morristown, NJ) added three tallies and three assists, as the Amherst women's lacrosse team rolled to a 13-6 victory over visiting Ithaca College in Sunday's NCAA Division III Regional Championship game. With the win, the Jeffs (16-2) advance to their second-ever Final Four, where they will face the defending NCAA champion College of New Jersey Lions in next Saturday's semifinals at Johns Hopkins University. 

The Jeffs, who advanced to Sunday's national quarterfinal with a 20-10 victory over Wellesley College on Saturday, took control of their first-ever meeting with Ithaca from the opening draw. Osborn, who surpassed her own single-season school goal-scoring record on Saturday, netted her 56th goal of the season off a feed from Molly O'Connor (Baltimore, MD) at 28:42 for an early 1-0 Amherst lead. Just over a minute later, Aldrich, who had only 18 goals entering the game, started her career day with a one-hop rocket from 11 meters out that slipped just inside the left post for a 2-0 Jeff lead. Off the ensuing draw, Aldrich finished a perfect set-up pass from Osborn, boosting the Jeffs to a three-goal lead just 2:51 into the game. Already down 3-0, the Bombers called their lone timeout of the first half after Aldrich's second goal, trying to stop the Jeffs' momentum. 

It didn't work. 

Instead, the Jeffs widened their lead to 4-0 at the 25-minute mark, when O'Connor tried to thread a pass through the middle that caught senior Ithaca goalie Brooke Andrews (Groton, MA) off guard. Andrews, who came out to challenge the pass, was then out of position when the ball was slightly deflected by the stick of an Ithaca defender, settling in the back of the net for a 4-0 Amherst advantage. 

The Bombers finally gained possession on the ensuing draw, but an early save from sophomore Amherst netminder Brooke Diamond (Longmeadow, MA) kept Ithaca from getting on the board. The Jeffs, on the other hand, were enjoying all kinds of success on the other end, and Osborn set up sophomore Erin Beaumont (Summit, NJ) at 20:04 for a 5-0 cushion. Just 26 seconds later, sophomore Mary Kate Allen (Springfield, MA) got into the scoring act, converting a feed from senior attacker Sarah Scheessele (Pittsburgh, PA) to put the Jeffs ahead by six. 

"We tried to focus on transition and on the speed mismatches that we had in the midfield," said Amherst Head Coach Chris Paradis. "We went at them hard early in the midfield and created some good fast break opportunities." 

After the Allen goal, the Bombers finally began to settle down defensively, and Andrews, the MVP of the New York State Women's Collegiate Athletic Association (NYSWCAA) Tournament, made a couple of big saves to keep the Jeffs from opening up an even wider margin. With the Ithaca defense stepping up, the Bombers began to show a little more cohesion on offense, culminating with an offensive rush midway through the 17th minute of play that earned an open-cage free-position attempt for Ithaca first-year Lauren Smith (Amherst, NY). Smith calmly sank the shot from the point, getting the visitors on the scoreboard at the 13:17 mark. 

Just over one minute later, the Bombers closed to within four on another free-position goal, this time from first-year Michelle Schlegel (Liverpool, NY). After Schlegel's goal, the Bombers continued to press, but a pair of saves from Diamond kept the visitors from drawing any closer. After an Ithaca turnover at the restraining line just past the nine-minute mark, Aldrich widened Amherst's lead to 7-2 after bursting past two Bombers defenders on the wing, before Osborn capped the first-half scoring with a one-hopper off an Abby Ouimet (Hatfield, MA) feed at the 3:11-mark. 

After Ithaca rallied from a 7-2 halftime deficit to knock off St. Mary's College of Maryland in Saturday's regional semifinals, the Jeffs could not afford to be too confident with an 8-2 halftime lead. Instead, the hosts put the game away early in the second half, thanks, once again, to Aldrich and Osborn. 

Aldrich, who had only scored three goals in a game once all season, netted her fourth goal of the contest in transition just one minute into the second half, finishing a feed from Beaumont, before Osborn broke her own single-season school points record with a goal off an Allen feed 36 seconds later. Osborn, who picked up her school-record 81st point of the season (58 goals, 23 assists) with the Jeffs' 10th goal, set up Beaumont three minutes later to extend the Amherst advantage to 11-2. 

The Bombers wrapped goals from first-year Tamara Payn (Doylestown, PA) and Schlegel around the 20-minute mark to cut the Amherst edge to 11-4, but the Jeffs were too strong in the midfield, and a free-position goal from Scheessele at 15:35 pushed the lead back to eight, before Allen capped Amherst's scoring with her second goal of the afternoon at the 11:21-mark. Ithaca junior Amy Turner (Baldwinsville, NY) and Schlegel added late goals for the Bombers to account for the 13-6 final, capping a game that the Jeffs had controlled almost wire-to-wire. 

Aldrich's four goals led all scorers for Amherst, as the Jeffs picked up their school-record 16th victory of the season. Osborn finished with three goals and three assists, giving her 13 points in the Jeffs' two NCAA Tournament games this season, and Beaumont added four points on two goals and two assists. Diamond posted five saves in just under 49 minutes of action, with senior Jess Thaxton (Wayland, MA) stopping a pair of Ithaca shots in the final 11:21 to preserve the win, helping the Jeffs finish the home part of their 2001 schedule with a perfect 9-0 record on Hitchcock Field. 

For Ithaca, who picked up its first-ever NCAA Tournament victory with Saturday's 9-8 win over St. Mary's, Schlegel led the way against the Jeffs with three goals, with three different players accounting for the other three Bomber goals. Andrews posted 11 saves in the defeat, as the Bombers, who fall to 1-5 all-time in the NCAA Tournament, finish their 2001 campaign with a record of 15-4. 

The Jeffs, who improve to 5-2 all-time in NCAA Tournament play, have a familiar foe waiting for them in Saturday's national semifinals in the defending national champion College of New Jersey (TCNJ). The two teams met at TCNJ on March 22, with the Jeffs rallying from a 5-2 halftime deficit for an 8-7 victory over the then-top-ranked Lions. Amherst and TCNJ have also met in both of the Jeffs' previous NCAA Tournament appearances, with the Lions taking a 20-9 victory over Amherst in the 1996 NCAA Elite Eight before Amherst's stunning 11-8 upset in the 1999 Final Four. 

The 2001 NCAA Division I and Division III Final Four will both be played next weekend at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, the same site as the 1999 Final Four where the Jeffs advanced to the NCAA title game. Amherst and TCNJ will meet at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday at Johns Hopkins' Homewood Field. Saturday's other semifinal will feature top-ranked Middlebury College-the team responsible for both of Amherst's losses in 2001-and Mary Washington College, who knocked off Salisbury State University on Sunday with a 15-12 win. That semifinal is slated for an 11:30 a.m. opening draw.

Sunday, May 13, 2001     1     2   --   F
#7 Ithaca College (15-4)   2     4   --   6
#2 Amherst College (16-2)   8     5   --   13

AC - Allison Aldrich 4, Kristin Osborn 3, Mary Kate Allen 2, Erin Beaumont 2, Molly O'Connor, Sarah Scheessele; 
IC - Michelle Schlegel 3, Tamara Payn, Lauren Smith, Amy Turner; 

AC - Osborn 3, Beaumont 2, O'Connor 2, Allen, Abby Ouimet, Scheessele 
IC - Kelly Bliss; 

AC - Brooke Diamond, 5 saves (4 ga, 48:39), Jess Thaxton, 2 saves (2 ga, 11:21); 
IC - Brooke Andrews, 11 saves (13 ga, 60:00); 

Shots: AC 36, IC 19;
Ground Balls: AC 14, IC 15;
Turnovers: AC 17, IC 17;
Draw Controls: AC 15, IC 6;
Fouls: AC 10, IC 20;
Cards: AC 1, Abby Ouimet (1, Yellow, 1-12:44), IC 2, Carrie Gross (1, Yellow, 2-26:30), Ass't Coach Mike Wood (1, Yellow, 11:01);