Hartford, Conn., May 2, 2012 - The top-seeded Trinity College Bantams, which defeated No. 8-seeded Bates, 15-4, on Saturday in the quarterfinals of the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) Women's Lacrosse Championship Tournament to improve to 14-1, will host the NESCAC Semifinals and Finals for the third straight spring time on Robin L. Sheppard Field on Saturday, May 5 and Sunday, May 6. The Bantams, ranked No. 4 in the Intercollegiate Women's Lacrosse Coaches Association (IWLCA) National Poll, play the No. 7-seeded and No. 18-ranked Hamilton College Continentals. Hamilton, which staged a major upset at No. 2-seeded Colby by a 9-4 count, handing the Mules just their second loss of the spring, is in its first season as a member of NESCAC for women's lacrosse.
In the other NESCAC Semifinal Saturday, No. 3-seeded Middlebury faces No. 4-seeded Amherst, at 2:30 p.m., and the semifinal winners will play in the NESCAC Finals on Sunday, May 8 at noon. The winner of the NESCAC Championship Tournament will determine the league's automatic qualifier for the NCAA Division III Championship Tournament. Middlebury is ranked No. 7 and Amherst, which gave Trinity its only loss of 2012 in the regular-season finale on Sheppard Field on April 25, is No. 6 in the IWLCA National Poll. The Bantams, coached by three-time NESCAC Coach of the Year Kate Livesay (6th season), won, 8-7, at home against Hamilton on April 21, and own a 7-6 all-time record in the NESCAC Tournament including its first title last year and a trip to the league finals in 2008. The Continentals have a 7-9 record but played Trinity down to the wire during the regular season.
Against Bates, Trinity senior tri-captain midfielder Liz Bruno (Andover, Mass.) totaled three goals, two assists, and three draw controls in a lopsided victory that was over early. Bantam junior midfielder Megan Leonhard (Summit, N.J.) scored four times and added three draw controls, while senior attacker Caite Irvine (Westwood, Mass.) finished with two goals and one assist, and junior attacker Hadley Duncan (Rye, N.Y.) contributed a pair of goals. Bantam junior defender Hillary McNamara (Milton, Mass.) was active with a team-high four ground balls to go with an assist, and classmate Olivia Whitney (Danvers, Mass.) improved to 12-1 in goal this spring with three saves.
Trinity ranks second in scoring among NESCAC teams with 12.60 goals per game, featuring a balanced attack with just Duncan appearing amidst the top ten in the league in points with an eighth-place total of 3.20 per game (48- 45g, 3a). Duncan's 3.00 goals per game tied her for second in the conference, while Leonhard averages 2.60 goals (39, T5th in NESCAC) and Irvine sits at 2.53 goals per contest (38, T8th in NESCAC). Bruno is the sixth-leading assister in the NESCAC with 1.33 per game (20) to go with her 18 goals for 38 points, while Leonhard has six assists for a total of 45 points, and Irvine adds four assists for 42 points. Bruno is a three-time All-American, while Leonhard and Irvine were 2011 First Team All-Americans and 2010 Third Team All-Americans, respectively. Bruno and Leonhard share the team lead in both draw controls with 38 and ground balls with 36, while Bruno also boasts a team-high 35 caused turnovers.
Whitney is tied for third among conference goalkeepers with a 7.57 GAA on 102 goals allowed to go with 68 saves. Six different Bantams have 20 or more points this spring, as sophomore attacker Shea Kusiak (Longmeadow, Mass.) adds 12 goals and 10 assists, and first-year midfielder Caroline Hayes (Greenland, N.H.) is Trinity's top-scoring rookie with 18 goals and three assists. Senior co-captain defender Elizabeth Beckler (Potomac, Md.) leads a tough and consistent Bantam defense that has four members who have each started all 15 games this spring. Juniors Mallory Hinman (Longmeadow, Mass.) and McNamara, who switched smoothly from attack to the back this season, and sophomore Lyndsey Shepard (Hamilton, Mass.) have combined for 100 ground balls and 56 caused turnovers, including 33 grounders and 24 turnovers caused by Hinman.
Hamilton, which finished 4-6 in the first season in the league as a women's lacrosse program, has a rich tradition in the sport in recent years. The 2008 NCAA Champion Continentals won five Liberty League titles and have been to the NCAA Quarterfinals five times, the NCAA Final Four three times, and the NCAA Finals twice. Coached by Patty Kloidt (10th Season), the Continentals are 1-2 against the field this weekend, having beaten Amherst, 8-6, at home on March 31 and lost at Middlebury, 10-4, four days later. Junior Rachel Friedman and senior Libby Schultz lead the Hamilton offense with 99 points between them, while sophomore Dewi Caswell has a .403 save percentage and a 9.49 GAA in the Continental cage.