Thursday, March 14, 2019

No. 1 Gettysburg Tops No. 19 Women’s Lacrosse in Neutral-Site Clash

Recap, photo courtesy of Ithaca College
SPARKS, Md. – The 19th-ranked Ithaca College women's lacrosse was back in action on Thursday afternoon looking to score another big non-league result when it clashed with two-time defending champion No. 1 Gettysburg in a neutral-site contest at the United States Lacrosse Headquarters in Sparks, Maryland. Unfortunately, the Bombers were unable to sustain the momentum from their big road win over then-No. 20 Scranton over the weekend, as Gettysburg pulled away in a 20-9 result at the historic Tierney Stadium. The loss evens Ithaca's record at 2-2 during the early part of this season.

Ultimately, the contest boiled down to two significant areas, as Gettysburg held decisive advantages in draw controls and free-position chances that proved to be the biggest differentiator between the two sides. The Bullets dominated the draw all day, which established a big edge in offensive zone time. Gettysburg out-paced Ithaca 19-to-3 in the draw during the opening half and finished the contest with a 24-to-6 edge in the crucial statistic. The Bullets finishing was also clinical against IC's sophomore keeper Mackenzie Schade, who definitely was facing the most dynamic attacking group of her young collegiate career. Gettysburg scored on 20-of-25 shots on goal in the game, many of which came from point-blank opportunities through deft passing or free-position chances.

It was an energetic start to the game for both sides, as the Bombers and Bullets took to the field turf
under the nicest conditions of the season. With partly sunny skies and mild temperatures in the mid-60's, both teams seemed to have an extra pep in the step to begin the contest. Gettysburg has been the class of Division III women's lacrosse during the past few seasons and took little time in showcasing their dynamic ability. Although the two sides traded goals during the opening minute of the game, it did not take long for the Bullets to establish a significant edge in terms of possession that would carry throughout the opening half.

Gettysburg's Kerry McKeever opened the day with an unassisted score 1:04 into the contest, erasing what was an outstanding defensive set for the Bombers up to that point. The lead did not last long, as the Bombers equalized the game 39-seconds later, striking for a quick goal in transition with junior attacker Bailey Herr hitting sophomore midfielder Jacqui Hallack streaking down the middle unmarked. IC's second-year talent rifled a shot into the upper left corner to knot the score at 1-1.

Unfortunately, the good vibes did not last for long. Although Ithaca did a good job of capitalizing on their scoring chances, the team's opportunities in the attacking zone were too few and far between due to Gettysburg's dominance in the draw. Lauren Cole sparked a three-goal run for the Bullets over a 2:22 span to open up some breathing room for the nation's top-ranked team. Liza Barr and McKeever added goals during the stretch, which made the score 4-1 in favor of Gettysburg just 3:38 into the game.

Herr was Ithaca's most visible presence in the attacking zone all afternoon and made an excellent play to try to keep Ithaca within striking distance. She used a power move to swing out from behind the net to cut left-to-right across the attacking fan, before firing a top-shelf shot to close Ithaca's deficit to 4-2 4:50 into the half. However, another sizeable 5-0 scoring run for the Bullets extended the advantage. McKeever and Barr both finished off first-half hat tricks during the stretch, while Bri Stokes and Steph Colson also lifted shots past Schade to widen the Gettysburg edge to 9-2 just 9:35 into the game.

The Bombers answered with two goals back-to-back in attempt to keep pace with Gettysburg's red-hot attack. On the first, Herr again played the role of creator, threading a pass to senior attacker Elizabeth Rice who made a nice cut through the slot and whipped a shot past Gettysburg keeper Bailey Pidler. On the ensuing IC offensive possession, senior captain Allie Panara was able to pick out Herr on a tight-window pass on top of the crease. In one motion, Herr snared the pass in traffic, seamlessly spun to face the cage and launched a nasty snap shot that Pidler had no chance. The offensive flourish pulled IC within five at 9-4 with a little more than half of the first 30-minutes remaining.

Unfortunately, Ithaca was unable to sustain the momentum. Steph Colson became the third Gettysburg scorer to notch a hat trick with back-to-back goals to re-up the Bullets' margin to seven. Although Rice and senior midfielder Erin McGee would add scores for the Bombers it would not be enough. Gettysburg capped the half on a five-goal run, two of which came from Bri Stokes in the final 18-seconds of the half to lock-in a 10-goal margin at the break.

Gettysburg did not lay off the gas during the opening moments of the second period. Cole and Colson posted goals in the first 1:45 of the second, while Barr scored another roughly six-minutes later to widen the margin to its widest point of the game at 19-6. The Bombers did not back down despite the result being well out of reach. McGee and Hallack both potted their second goals of the afternoon, while sophomore transfer Megan Motkowski also added a score as part of a 3-0 scoring run for the Bombers during the middle stretch of the half. Caroline Regan capped the scoring on the day with final goal for the Bullets with 5:35 to play.

Herr once-again paced the Bombers with her third five-plus point outing in four games this season. She finished the day with two goals and three assists. McGee, Hallack and Rice each finished the afternoon with two goals apiece. Panara finished the day with two assists, while sophomore Indira Varma registered one helper on the afternoon.

Defensively, senior Reid Simoncini paced IC with two caused turnovers. Sophomores Molly Nodiff, Caroline Paquin and Rachel Rosenberg each registered one forced miscue. Panara and first-year Samantha Marsh also accounted for one caused turnover each.

Schade finished the day with five saves, as her record fell to 2-2 as a starter.

Ithaca will be back in action on Sunday, March 17, when the team returns to Higgins Stadium for the beginning of Liberty League play. The Bombers are set to face Skidmore in the first game of a lacrosse doubleheader slated to begin at noon. The IC men will also face the Thoroughbreds in the second game of the day with an anticipated 3:00 p.m. start.

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