May 23, 2015 — Inside the Division III Final Four: Franklin & Marshall vs. Trinity

FRANKLIN & MARSHALL

Record: 20-2

Against the Final Four: Did not play.

Key players: Brittney Jorgenson (sr., A), Gabby Frank (so., A), Anastasia Mergner (jr., M), Vanessa Budd (so., M), Samantha Blicht (so., D)

Intangibles: Three years ago, the Diplomats’ program was shut down because of a hazing scandal. The Diplomats have worked extremely hard to rebuild its talent pool and reputation to be able to get to this moment.

The skinny: This program has won championships in 2007 and 2009, and is looking to get back to that level with a young team. An interesting sidebar will be how the coaching staff will use the team’s two goalkeepers, Kaitlin Hardt and Danielle Harrington. Both have more than 500 minutes in the crease this season and at least 10 starts apiece.

TRINITY

Record: 20-1

Against the Final Four (1-0): Beat Middlebury 16-7

Key players: Martha Griffin (jr., M), Karly Simpson (so., M), Claire Lyne (so., A), Lindsay Mullaney (sr., D), Ashley Stewart (jr., D)

Intangibles: The team has run the table after a February loss to Colby. This is the Bantams’ fourth straight Final Four, but have only brought home one title, that in 2012.

The skinny: The Bantams have had their greatest competition within the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC), with a pair of narrow wins in the conference tournament. Should they win this semifinal, there’s every reason to believe they might face Middlebury in the final. Wouldn’t that be something?

May 22, 2015 — Inside the Division III Final Four: Cortland vs. Middlebury

CORTLAND STATE

Record: 20-1

Against the Final Four: Did not play

Key Players: Ashley Gentile (jr., M), Tara Monaghan (jr., M), Emma Hayes-Hurley (sr., A), Colleen Wright (jr., D), Jaclyn Beshilan (so., G)

Intangibles: Head coach Kelly Lickert-Orr came from Keuka College to replace Kathy Taylor, who went to Division II LeMoyne. Her new coaching perspective might have an impact on the Red Dragons’ fortunes.

The skinny: Since Beshilan took over as the team’s starting goalie after a loss in the fourth game of the season to Salisbury, Cortland has strung together 17 straight wins. Cortland has done pretty well getting to the Final Four for the fifth straight season, but the team has faltered at this hurdle the last four years.

MIDDLEBURY

Record: 16-3

Against the Final Four (0-1): Lost 16-7 to Trinity

Key Players: Laurel Pascal (jr., M), Katie Ritter (sr., M), Maggie Caputi (jr., M), Catherine Fowler (jr., D), Hollis Perticone (fr., M), Madeleine Kinker (jr., G)

Intangibles: This weekend is the last that Hall-of-Fame coach Missy Foote will be on the sidelines. The innovative, thinking coach may have had a lot of defensive tools taken away from her over the years, but she is still a valued part of the U.S. lacrosse community, as she was hired as an assistant coach at the last FIL Women’s World Cup.

The skinny: Middlebury does not have its best talented offensive team. The Panthers have only one 40-goal scorer, and, as a team, has generated only 97 free-position shot opportunities all season. The team has gotten great performances from its defense and its draw-control specialists, and will need them to keep the Dragons from getting the ball.

May 21, 2015 — Tone-deafness as policy

In a climate of zero tolerance for sexual harassment, the New York Liberty of the WNBA is about to do something which could wind up being tragic.

The Liberty are about to install, as team president and part-owner, NBA Hall-of-Famer Isiah Thomas. The problem is that Thomas was a defendant in a $12 million judgment against the New York Knicks when Thomas was team president. The charge? Sexual harassment.

It’s befuddling. And, frankly, tone-deaf at the same time.

But the thing is, there has been a lot of moves made by people in sport and in society which have had the same effect of running counter to popular belief, sentiment, or common sense.

In an era when our society is coming around to the ideas of same-sex marriage, reproductive rights, and the separation of church and state, proposals have been made to legislatures to curb many of these rights despite popular sentiment against these restrictions. It’s as if though some legislators have not been listening to the public.

There is also a dance promoter in Russia who hired a teacher for a major event. The teacher has been a long-standing pillar of the community, but who has been publicly accused by many women of sexual harassment. The controversy has roiled the community, even as the promoter has been feigning ignorance about the crimes of which the teacher is accused.

It’s almost as if though tone-deafness has become part of our society — not necessarily because of free-spiritedness or because of not worrying about what others might think. Instead, this kind of tone-deafness is borne of a combination of mean-spiritedness and arrogance.

Its almost as if those making the decisions are making the decisions because they can.

Somehow, I don’t think this will end well in New York.

May 20, 2015 — Inside the Division I Final Four: North Carolina vs. Duke

NORTH CAROLINA
Record: 17-3
Against the Final Four (2-2): Lost to Maryland 13-11, beat Syracuse 15-8, beat Duke 12-6, lost to Syracuse 9-8 AET.
Key players: Aly Messenger (jr., A), Sammy Jo Tracy (jr., A/M), Maggie Bill (so., A) Caylee Waters (so., G), Margaret Corzel (sr., D), Caleigh Sindall (sr., D), Sarah Scott (sr., D)
Intangibles: Remember when goalie Megan Ward, as a freshman, led the Heels to the title two years ago? She hasn’t started a game this season, but she’s played about a quarter of the team’s minutes, so she’ll be ready to come in if need be.
The skinny: The Tar Heels have a good defense and are going to need it in this championship weekend. Question is, what if Duke is able to clog up the Carolina attack? The team does not have any player who has scored more than 40 goals this season, which is astonishing.

DUKE
Record: 16-4
Against the Final Four (1-2): beat Syracuse 10-9, lost to North Carolina 12-6, lost to Syracuse 14-10
Key players: Kerrin Maurer (sr., A), Brigid Smith (Sr., A), Taylor Trimble (sr., M), Kelsey Duryea (jr., G), Maura Schwitter (so., D), Gabby Moise (sr., D)
Intangibles: What more extra motivation (aside from the usual Tobacco Road rivalry), but the fact that Duke head coach Kerstin Kimel has been battling breast cancer?
The skinny: This is Duke’s seventh Final Four appearance. The Blue Devils have never the final. If they do, however, this team may have the stuff to beat either Syracuse or Maryland. Taylor Trimble may be the only player who can hold her own with the likes of Kayla Treanor or Taylor Cummings on draws. The team also was able to squeeze Princeton on defense last week, only allowing the Tigers three goals all game.

May 19, 2015 — Inside the Division I Final Four: Syracuse vs. Maryland

SYRACUSE
Record: 16-7
Against the Final Four (2-2): beat Duke 14-10, lost to Maryland 10-7, beat North Carolina 9-8 AET, lost to North Carolina 15-8.
Key players: Kayla Traynor (jr., A), Halle Majorana (jr., A), Kayla Kempney (sr., A), Brenna Rainone (jr., D), Kaeli O’Connor (so., D), Kelsey Richardson (sr., G)Intangibles: Majorana has played in the NCAA Tournament the last two years — but as a member of the Maryland Terrapins. Taylor Gait, after three knee operations, is playing the best lacrosse she’s played in several years. The team has rallied together after defensive midfielder Kelly Cross was suspended in late March after running her truck into a staircase on the Syracuse campus.
The skinny: Whenever it’s counted, Maryland has had the Orange’s number. The Terps lead the all-time series 17-1.

MARYLAND
Record: 19-1
Against the Final Four (2-0): beat North Carolina 13-11, beat Syracuse 10-7.
Key players:  Taylor Cummings (jr., M), Megan Douty (sr., D), Megan Whittle (fr., A), Kristen Lamon (sr., A), Brooke Griffin (sr., A), Zoe Stukenberg (so., M), Nadine Hadnagy (so., D)
Intangibles: The Terrapins have played some of their best lacrosse in the second half, blowing open close games with a tornado of goals in the opening minutes after the interval.
The skinny: Maryland isn’t playing just for a national title this weekend, but is playing for a place in history. This may be the finest Maryland team ever put on the pitch; even better than the teams with Quinn Carney, Jen Adams, Sonia Judd, Tori Wellington, Allison Comito, and Courtney Martinez. Perhaps the loss to Ohio State in the Big Ten Tournament will take a bit of pressure off them, but you get the feeling this is a team on an unerring path to the final.

May 18, 2015 — Of two minds

Today was supposed to be the start of a new chapter of my life in a familiar place.

But when I opened my email queue, there was an entry from last week (presumably because the tech folks had opened the account days before I was to arrive), with the subject line, “Death of a Colleague.”

Krista was a person who worked on the financial side of our organization. Like me, she was a survivor, moving from job to job within the firm when money got tight. Of course, she would know ahead of time, having access to the books.

She was always quick with a smile, quick with a joke, and with a raspy lilt to her voice that reminded me a lot of the comedienne Wanda Sykes. And now, Krista is gone.

It was hard to concentrate today because of all of this. I’ve had colleagues from the workplace die before; after all, I’m part of an organization which usually numbers a shade over a thousand workers.

Krista was about my age. And it’s making me think more and more about my own mortality.

May 17, 2015 — Maryland 17, Northwestern 5

POSTGAME That’s all for now; have a great day

POSTGAME The win puts Maryland in a national semifinal against Syracuse on Friday in Chester, Pa.

POSTGAME At the same time, Brooke Griffin and Kristen Lamon were unstoppable. At the same time, it’s as if though Northwestern’s defense forgot what had worked in the first half

POSTGAME Northwestern was outdrawn 8-5 in the second half and that kept the ball away from its attack for long stretches; the usually free-wheeling Cats scored exactly one goal in the second term

POSTGAME The tale of second halves continues for Maryland, as the offense scored the first nine goals of the second half. It is similar to the effort the Terps gave in late March against these same Wildcats, against Princeton a few weeks ago, then against Penn State in the final Big Ten Conference regular season game

FULL TIME At the horn, Maryland wins 17-5

59:00 One minute to go and the Maryland support senses victory

56:15 UMD GOAL Lamon scores from the crease and the Terps lead 17-5

52:51 UMD GOAL Cummings dances through the arc and plants one on the twine; Maryland leads 16-5

50:30 TV TIMEOUT

50:26 NU GOAL Kayleigh Craig finishes off the ensuing draw, but Maryland still leads 15-5

49:12 UMD FP and GOAL Kelly McPartland from the left hash; It’s 15-4 Terps, nine straight for the hosts — similar to what happened when these two teams met at Lakeside two months ago

47:26 NU YELLOW Haydyn Anigian is off for the slash

45:49 TV TIMEOUT

42:20 UMD GOAL Griffin with a twisting fall away goal that reminds me of the Katrina Dowd goal in the 2009 national semifinals! What an effort! Maryland leads 14-4 and the clock runs

41:20 UMD GOAL Griffin is left wide open in the fan and Maryland now leads 13-4

40:12 TV TIMEOUT Goodness, that’s a needed timeout for Northwestern, but they could have used one earlier to break the Terrapins’ momentum. The defense is simply not doing the job, leaving goalie Bridget Bianco out to dry

37:48 It befuddles me why Northwestern isn’t using a timeout to stop the run; that’s six goals in a shade over seven minutes. It’s not as if Northwestern can take an extra timeout with them to Philadelphia next week

37:48 UMD FP and GOAL Stukenberg from the center-left hash and Maryland leads 12-4

36:17 UMD GOAL Collins from Zoe Stukenberg and the Maryland lead is seven

35:30 UMG GOAL It’s Kristen Lamon again! 10-4 Terps

32:30 UMD GOAL Brooke Griffin scores off a Lamon pass and it’s 9-4 Terps

33:00 UMD GOAL Erin Collins with the easy putaway and the Terps are up 8-4 

30:28 UMD GOAL Kristen Lamon is given time and room to give the Terps a 7-4 lead

30:00 The second half is under way

HALFTIME Interesting to see that Northwestern kept its entire team in one corner of the field instead of retiring to the visiting locker room for the interval; that would be 10 fewer minutes out in what is becoming a very warm afternoon in College Park

HALFTIME Northwestern has done well to keep within two, including winning draws and keeping the ball. But Maryland has jumped all over Northwestern’s mistakes and has the lead. I think the Cummings yellow may loom large especially if she has to take a chance in terms of winning a draw

HALFTIME At the horn, Maryland leads 6-4

29:22 NU GOAL Nesselbush with the righty finish and the score is 6-4 Maryland

28:28 NU TIMEOUT

28:09 UMD FP and GOAL Zoe Stukenberg from the center-left and the Terps are up 6-3

26:00 UMD GOAL Megan Whittle on the backdoor cut; Maryland leads 5-3

22:57 TV TIMEOUT; perhaps Northwestern has found the key? They seem to be attacking through the top center of the arc and trying to outrun the defense to the slide

22:57 NU GOAL Selena Lasota weaves through the Maryland defense and brings Northwestern to within 4-3; nice goal from the freshman!

20:17 UMD GOAL Brooke Griffin tosses it in to give Maryland a 4-2 lead

17:56 UMD YELLOW Cummings off for two minutes; that’s a pretty significant yellow, because one more bookable offense of any kind means that the Tewaaraton Trophy holder is out of the game

16:39 UMD FP and GOAL Kristen Lamon gets the hi-lo from Cummings on the arc and the Terps lead 3-2

16:37 NU YELLOW Spring Sanders is off for two minutes

15:19 TV TIMEOUT

15:19 UMD FP and GOAL Erin Collins bounces it in from the center hash and the game is tied 2-2

12:01 NU GOAL Sheila Nesselbush runs the isolation with three teammates behind the cage and bounces it in; Northwestern leads 2-1

9:28 TV TIMEOUT

6:30 NU GOAL Selena Lasota with the right-hand finish and the game is tied 1-1

3:59 UMD GOAL Taylor Cummings with the right-hand finish and it’s 1-0 Maryland

0:00 The game is on

PREGAME Northwestern is in the purple tops with white shorts; Maryland in the white trimmed in the Lord Baltimore motif reminiscent of the state flag

PREGAME The teams are warming up under partly cloudy skies with temperatures around 80 degrees; thunderstorms are in the forecast

PREGAME This could be seen as a game of once-and-future title teams. As favored as the senior class is from Maryland to help bring a 13th title to College Park, the freshman class for Northwestern — led by Selena Lasota and Corinne Wessels — has been outstanding and could spearhead another run of titles one of these days

PREGAME These teams have won 17 out of the last 20 NCAA titles and eight out of the last nine

PREGAME The Wildcats’ chances hinge on draw controls; they have been having problems all year with them

PREGAME Northwestern obviously has been scouring the game tape of the Ohio State-Maryland semifinal to see what the Buckeyes did to thwart the Terps

PREGAME And it is interesting that neither of these two teams made their conference championship game; both lost in the Big Ten semifinals last week

PREGAME With Duke, North Carolina, and Syracuse having punched their tickets to Philadelphia yesterday; this is the last quarterfinal to be played

PREGAME This occasion marks the fifth time in the last six seasons that these two teams have met in the NCAA Tournament; but never so early in the going

PREGAME Northwestern is 14-6 this season; Maryland is 18-1

PREGAME Hello, and welcome to The Lacrosse & Field Hockey Complex (yep, we’re calling it that) at the University of Maryland for this NCAA Division I quarterfinal between Northwestern and the host Terrapins

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