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March 27, 2016 — The closest thing to a trophy dash

Part of the lore and mystique of lacrosse is comparing teams across eras, across divisions. It’s what sent the Hobart men from a skein of a dozen Division III championships up to Division I and the Northeast Conference. It’s The College of New Jersey beating Harvard in a fall-ball matchup of champions a quarter of a century ago.

And it’s a last-minute add-on game for spring break.

As the story goes, Pat Klodt wanted to give the Hamilton Continentals a two-game Florida trip, but she could only book Bowdoin College, a top rival for Division III championship honors, during the trip.

Klodt thought outside the box, booking a Division II opponent in Florida Southern College. The teams met 10 days ago, with Hamilton taking a 10-9 win.

I’ve always said that there are small differences between the best women’s lacrosse players in Division I, II, III, and the NAIA. For the most part, your average Division I player is taller, faster, and fitter than her sisters in other divisions. But the dedication and game sense — the factors you cannot measure — are just as present.

There was another interdivisional matchup last week that showed how equal the divisions (outside of Division I) can match up. I watched a livestream of a match between the Savannah College of Art and Design and Wingate. SCAD, winners of the National Women’s Lacrosse League title three out of the last four years, was the No. 1-ranked team in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). Wingate, on the other hand, plays an NCAA Division II schedule out of the South Athletic Conference.

In a thrilling match at Irwin Belk Stadium, Wingate made a comeback from three goals down, scoring five straight to beat the Bees 17-15. It was a tremendous effort led by Shannon O’Neal (three goals, including two in Wingate’s 5-0 run) and Paulena Dempsey (five goals).

The competition between the two teams was intense, and if you didn’t know the names of the teams or what classification they were, you could still enjoy the game for the tactics and thinking.

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