Serving the scholastic field hockey and lacrosse community since 1998

Archive for May 20, 2017

May 20, 2017 — The old order, upset

Women’s lacrosse, for all of its attempts at sociological and geographical diversity, still has had only five different schools win an NCAA Division I championship since Harvard won the title in 1990.

There have been a number of teams which have tried to place themselves in the role of contender: Syracuse, Florida, Colorado, and this year’s dark horse, Southern California. But the game was still ruled by a small handful of teams; the last four years, three of the national finals featured both North Carolina and Maryland.

Today, in the wildest quarterfinal round since the tournament expanded from six teams some 20 years ago, that reality was substantially upended.

There will be a new national champion, as North Carolina was downed 16-14 by the United States Naval Academy. The Midshipmen are going to meet Boston College, a 20-14 winner over Southern Cal, in the national semifinals. This means that a first-time Final Four participant is guaranteed to be in the title match.

Stony Brook, which has been improving in the decade since Joe Spallina moved from Division II Adelphi, almost joined Navy and Boston College in the Final Four. But Maryland rallied back from a four-goal deficit in the final 15 minutes of play to take a 13-12 win.

Stony Brook did what it needed to do to win the game. It gave the ball to U.S. national teamer Kylie Ohlmiller, who was magnificent this season. She had an all-time season on the statistical end, scoring 78 goals and assisting on a record 86 others.

But the Seawolves lost seven of the last nine draws of the game and barely saw the ball in the final ten minutes. In that time span, the game’s key players — Taylor Hensh, Jen Giles, and Caroline Steele got the goals against a very aggressive Stony Brook defense.

How aggressive? The team recorded 57 fouls, which, in the held-whistle era of college lacrosse, is unheard of. Most importantly, Stony Brook was shown yellow on five occasions. It was the last one that allowed Steele a man-up chance on a free position that tied the game.

If there was one thread that unified the three results, it was the Cindy Timchal coaching tree. Timchal, with her win as head of the Naval Academy team, is back in the national semifinals for the first time since 2003.

Two of her proteges join her in Foxboro next week. Cathy (Nelson) Reese, an All-America attacking midfielder and multiple championship winner at Maryland, has been the coach in College Park since 2006. Boston College’s head coach is Acacia Walker, who played for Timchal in the early 2000s.

A third could join tomorrow: Missy (Holmes) Doherty played at Maryland from 1994-97, winning three NCAA titles as a defender. She coaches a Penn State team which, oddly enough, was the school that won the national championship a year before Harvard in 1990, the start of the current closed hegemony of women’s lacrosse.

It’s a hegemony which could burst wide open next week.