Women’s Lacrosse Wins Patriot League Tournament for Second Straight Season

Jaime Heilbron

Last weekend, the Colgate Women’s Lacrosse team won its second consecutive Patriot League Tournament and third in the last five years. The title run began Friday, April 24 when the Raiders defeated the Bucknell Bison by a score of 15-11 in the semifinal round. Two days later, the ladies made short work of the U.S. Naval Academy Mids by a score of 17-4 to successfully defend the Patriot League crown and earn the automatic bid to the 2009 NCAA Tournament.

“It is an amazing feeling to have won back-to-back Patriot League titles,” Head Coach Heather Bliss said. “It says a lot about the leadership on this team. It was great to have the girls win on their home turf in front of their fans and families. I couldn’t have asked for anything better, especially for our seniors.”

Sophomore Colleen Bubnack was named the Tournament MVP, while seniors Maddie Kearns, Ashley Didio, Sara Drexler and junior Brie Moran made the all-Tournament team.

On Friday afternoon, the two teams took the field knowing who their opponent would be if they made the Championship Game on Sunday. In the earlier game, third-seeded Navy had upset the second-seeded Lehigh Mountain Hawks by a score of 12-11.

At the beginning of the first half, the visitors came out inspired, hoping to upset the first-seeded Colgate Raiders. The Bison scored the first two goals of the game only two minutes apart. The first one came at the 3:08 mark, while the second one came at 5:16. Those two goals seemed to finally wake up Colgate from its slumber. The first Raider goal came at the 6:17 mark, when first-year midfielder Courtney Miller scored off an assist from junior attacker Brie Moran. Two minutes later, junior midfielder Meghan Lawler scored, assisted by Moran.

The Raiders would score three more goals before Bucknell answered with two more with eleven-and-a-half minutes left in the half, to make the score 5-4 in the Raiders’ favor. Senior captain Ashley Didio scored at the 18:49 mark, but the Bison quickly scored two goals and knotted the game at six with a little less than ten minutes left.

At this point, Colgate took charge and began to dominate. Miller scored on a free-position shot with 7:49 left, and junior Alex Kuntz, Lawler and Bubnack each put in a goal, giving ‘Gate a 10-6 lead at the half.

However, Bucknell–a team that score in bunches–would not be kept at bay for long. Midfielder Bonnie Buechel, a thorn in Colgate’s side (she recorded a hat trick against Colgate during the regular season), began to take the game over. She scored a hat trick in a span of 11:53, pulling Bucknell with one goal. Lawler stopped the bleeding with a ‘Gate score, but Buechel immediately responded with her fourth goal of the game and 40th on the season. Moran, who had been conspicuously quiet since recorded three consecutive assists early in the game, then took matters into her own hands. She scored a free position shot to give ‘Gate a 12-10 lead, and after Bucknell scored yet another goal, put in an unassisted score to reassert Colgate’s two-goal advantage. The Raiders put in two more, and Bucknell would not find the net for the remainder of the game.

Moran and Lawler led the way for the Raiders in points. Moran posted two goals and four assists, while Lawler posted three goals and two assists. First-year goaltender Christina Roa started the game and had a total of two saves, and was later substituted by senior Sara Drexler, who had a total of four. For Bucknell, Buechel had four goals and two assists for six points, and goaltender Alyssa DeLorenz had 10 saves.

On Sunday, the Colgate Raiders and the Navy Mids took the field to play in the Patriot League Championship Game. Just like in the semifinal game against Bucknell on Friday, the Raiders let in the first goal of the game at the 4:23 mark. Colgate, however, got back on track scoring three unanswered goals in a span of three minutes to take the lead at 3-1, with a little under 21 minutes left to play in the half. The Mids recovered ten minutes later by scoring two tying the game at 3-3 with ten minutes left to play in the half.

That, however, was the last time Navy came close in the game, for Colgate went on a masterful 14-1 run to finish the Championship, exhibiting their excellence in every facet of the game and running circles around the Mids.

At the 22:50 mark of the first half, Lawler scored off an assist by sophomore Lizzie Kusbit. Two minutes later, sophomore Colleen Bubnack scored to put the score at 5-3 in favor of the hosts. Miller and Bubnack would each score a goal before the end of the half to make the score at the end of the first half 7-3 in Colgate’s favor.

There is only one word to describe the second half of the Patriot League Championship Game: massacre. The eighth Colgate goal of the afternoon came at the 3:51 mark when Kusbit scored off an assist from fellow classmate Bubnack. A little less than three minutes later, it was Moran’s turn to score an unassisted goal. The Raiders would score one more goal to make the score 10-3, before Navy scored their last goal of the season at the 14:45 mark of the second half. Patriot League Defensive Player of the Year senior Maddie Kearns scored Colgate’s 11th goal at the 16:11 mark on a free position shot. Over the next thirteen minutes, the Raiders would score the last six goals of the game to become the undisputed 2009 Patriot League Champions by a score of 17-4.

For Colgate, Miller scored four goals, and Bubnack scored a hat trick to go along with two assists. Lawler had two goals and assists.

Bliss discussed what the key to victory was. “The most important factor was the focus that we put on our team,” Bliss said. “We are a very good team and we knew that if we stuck to our game plan and emphasized on our strengths we would come out on top.”

The Raiders will now face the Maryland Terrapins in College Park, Maryland on Sunday at noon. Maryland is 19-0 and the second-ranked team in both the NCAA Tournament and the most recent polls, behind defending champion Northwestern. The Terrapins are an incredibly tough draw for the Raiders. Maryland has won 10 National Championships, and has won 25 of their last 26 games at home. Three Terrapins have over 70 points: first-year attack Karri Ellen Johnson (65-9-74), junior middie Caitlyn McFadden (48-29-77) and sophomore attack Sarah Mollison (36-37-73). Maryland scores 15.81 goals per game, and beats their opponents by an average of seven goals per game. However, Colgate’s team is probably the best in school history, and they will not go down without a fight. Quietly, Bubnack is tied for second in the NCAA in caused turnovers and tied for third in groundballs. She, Lawler and Moran are also in the top-50 in the NCAA in scoring. If anything, Colgate simply needs to pepper the net with shots any time they get a chance, for the Terrapins’ only weakness is their goaltending. Starting goalie Brittany Dipper has an anemic .415 save percentage, but then again, she only faces about 15 shots per game, so she’s probably sleeping in the net every time a shot comes her way.

Yes, Sunday will be a tough test for the Raiders, but they are certainly up for the task.