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Archive for May 16, 2007

May 16, 2007 — History in Division III

Over the weekend, there was plenty of women’s lacrosse tournament action in all three levels of the NCAA. In Division III, the quarterfinal round was played, and a bit of history was written.

Middlebury College defeated The College of New Jersey in an 11-10 thriller which was worthy of a final — but it’s something you expect when the Panthers and Lions are on the field. After all, two years ago in the Final Four, Middlebury was denied a chance at a late tie when a shooting space call negated a shot into the goal cage, after which the resulting free position was saved.

Last weekend’s memorable play was Claire Edelen’s free-position from the center hash that broke a 10-all tie with 12 seconds remaining.

Here’s the enormity of the result: the last time The College of New Jersey didn’t make the NCAA women’s Division III lacrosse semifinals, none of the members of the team had been born yet, and the school was called Trenton State College.

Indeed, the Lions had been participants in the NCAA Division I tournament before 1985, and almost won the first NCAA crown in 1982 before losing 9-6 to a Massachusetts team led by Pam Hixon, who would eventually become head coach of the U.S. senior national women’s field hockey team.

I didn’t expect the Lions to make such an early exit, given what I had seen from them this season. I watched Sharon Pfluger’s team make an incredible second-half comeback to beat Cortland State, then I witnessed the Lions lose an overtime thriller in Gettysburg.

It’s usually this time of year when the Lions could put two good halves together, and do it consistently. However, in this match, an early second-half lull allowed Middlebury to score five out of six goals to take command by the game’s 50th minute.

Now, I was a witness to the first time TCNJ exited the NCAA field hockey tournament short of the Final Four. It was a rainy day at Rowan in 1997 when the Lions met up with the University of Scranton and couldn’t put those final passes together.

To me, that game was a watershed event; since that day, the Lions have won only one NCAA field hockey championship. Will that happen in the world of women’s lacrosse, over which the Lions have exercised some legendary domination over the past three decades?