Gettysburg, Pa. - Senior tri-captain attacker Shea Kusiak (Longmeadow, Mass.) had two goals and one assist, and the Bantam defense held the nation's No. 11-ranked offense to two goals in the second half, as the Trinity College women's lacrosse team rallied to defeat the SUNY Cortland Red Dragons, 8-7, in the NCAA Division III Championship Semifinals this afternoon on Gettysburg College's Clark Field. No. 3-ranked Trinity, which recorded its third consecutive win over Cortland State in the NCAA Semifinals, advances to the NCAA Championship Game tomorrow at 2:30 p.m. against the winner of the Salisbury/Amherst game later today. The 2012 NCAA Champion Bantams, which improve to 19-2 with their 14 win in a row, defeated Cortland State, 7-5, and Salisbury, 8-7, two seasons ago in the NCAA Final Four, and downed the Red Dragons, 8-6, before losing to Salisbury, 12-5, in the finals last spring. Trinity owns a 7-4 regular-season win and a 10-7 victory in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) Finals over Amherst this year, while the last Bantam loss was an 11-8 setback to Salisbury on March 18 in Florida.
"Cortland is a good, physical and athletic team," said Trinity Head Coach Kate Livesay. "We played with composure and made big plays at the end to win the game. We knew they love to score assisted goals so we tried our best to take away their cutters."
Trinity fought back from a 4-2 hole 16:30 into the game, scoring six of seven goals over a 27-minute span, before holding off the Red Dragons late. Rookie midfielder Clare Lyne (Concord, Mass.) started the rally with a man-up tally from fellow rookie Karly Simpson (South Hadley, Mass.) with 6:06 left in the first half, but Red Dragon freshman Kristen Ohberg (Brewster, N.Y.) answered from sophomore attackman Erica Geremia (Camillus, N.Y.) at the 4:48 mark. Trinity junior midfielder Caroline Hayes (Greenfield, N.H.) took a pass from behind the net by sophomore middie Martha Griffin (Exeter, N.H.) and converted the last goal before the break to make the score, 5-4, in Cortland State's favor.
Trinity rattled off the first five goals after halftime, beginning with a game-tying score by junior attacker Renee Olsen (Ridgewood, N.J.) 2:09 into the second stanza. After a 12:45 scoring drought for both sides, Kusiak buried a free-position shot for what proved to be the game-winner followed by a second connection from Simpson to Lyne at the 10:53 mark and a final Trinity goal from Kusiak to sophomore Abby McQuillan (Medfield, Mass.) with 9:07 on the clock. The Red Dragons came roaring back, as Ohberg returned the earlier favor by Geremia with an assist to her on the first Cortland State goal in almost 30 minutes of play just inside the five-minute mark. Geremia assisted junior attacker Marilyn Farrell (Fayetteville, N.Y.) with 1:21 remaining to cut the Trinity lead to 8-7, and Cortland State won the ensuing draw. The Trinity defense kept the Red Dragons from getting a shot off for over 40 seconds, but Geremia drew a free-position opportunity with 36 seconds on the clock to give Cortland State a solid chance to tie. Trinity sophomore goalkeeper Emily Mooney (New York, N.Y.) made the last of eight saves the biggest, however, stopping the hard and low shot with her stick, and Trinity held the ball the rest of the way.
"We never panicked and just executed our plays like we practice them, said Kusiak. "Coach always tells us to stay in the moment and we did that today."
Cortland had scored first on a free-position shot by sophomore Ashley Gentile (Baldwinsville, N.Y.), just 1:13 into the contest, but Bantam senior tri-captain Kathleen Timmons (Branford, Conn.) answered with a wraparound at the 24:24 mark. Trinity took a 2-1 lead when Kusiak's free-position attempt caromed off a stick past Red Dragon sophomore backstop Liz Ingalls (Centerport, N.Y.) with 23:03 on the clock. Ingalls was impressive early with four saves in the opening 20 minutes, and her stop on Trinity junior attacker Molly Cox (Norwell, Mass.) on a free position led to the goal in transition by Ohberg that capped off a 3-0 Cortland State run and left Trinity down by a score of 4-2 midway through the first half. Mooney kept the deficit at a pair with a save against Ohberg moments later, and Ingalls stopped Griffin on a free position with 10:24 left in the first half, before Lyne's first goal out of a Bantam time out shifted the momentum back to Trinity.
The teams finished nearly even in almost all statistical categories, although Cortland State committed 36 fouls to 26 for the Bantams and was flagged for six yellow carsd to just one for Trinity. Mooney finished with eight saves, while sophomore defender Ashley Stewart (Dover, Mass.) recorded team-highs of five ground balls and four caused turnovers including a key drawn charge in the closing minutes, and Griffin finished with three draw controls and two caused turnovers. Ingalls totaled nine stops, while Gentile notched two goals and three draw controls, and Geremia registered three assists for the Red Dragons.