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Archive for May 22, 2023

May 22, 2023 — A rise in the far west

Last weekend, the NCAA Division III women’s lacrosse tournament boiled down to the final four teams which will be playing in the national semifinals this weekend in Salem, Va.

Winning their way into the Final Four are eight-time champion Middlebury, two-time champion Franklin & Marshall, three-time champion Gettysburg, and five-time national semifinalist William Smith.

But there was one very notable team that fell just a game short of the final weekend. That team is the Sagehens representing Pomona College and Pitzer College, two of the seven Claremont colleges located right between Los Angeles and Rancho Cucamonga.

There have been teams outside of the established hotbeds which have made their mark in Division I and Division II in the last 20 years, but the Division III show has pretty much been the property of a coalition of teams from only a few conferences such as the NJAC, the Centennial, the Capital Athletic Conference, and especially the NESCAC.

The success of the Sagehens this year, with an 18-1 record, can be attributed to the coaching of Sarah and Sylvia Queener. Sarah, 20 years ago, graduated from Yale and started her coaching career at William Smith before heading west.

This year is her 12th at Pomona Pitzer, and she has her sister Sylvia at her side. Sylvia Queener was previously the head coach at Whittier College, and they and fellow assistant coach Brian Eisenberg were able to bring the Sagehens to the national quarterfinals yesterday, but fell 18-13 to Franklin & Marshall.

But the Queener sisters aren’t the only people who have been building the game of lacrosse in their family. Brice Queener, as it turns out, is the associate head coach of Denver University, which last week won its way into its first Final Four.

This shouldn’t be much of a surprise, as the Queeners are a family of coaches. The parents, Harry and Patricia, coach at Penn Yan (N.Y.) Academy, a school which has produced a plethora of prominent lacrosse players.

The Queener coaching tree is one which is likely going to be as massive as the redwood trees which populate California.