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Ashley Harmeling '05
Junior Ashley Harmeling leads the Jeffs in points (103), goals (63), assists (40), ground balls (50) and caused turnovers (31).

Defending National Champion Jeffs Earn NCAA Bid, Will Host One of Four NCAA Regionals This Weekend

May 4, 2004

AMHERST, MA - Despite falling to top-ranked Middlebury College in Sunday’s NESCAC Championship game, the third-ranked and defending national champion Amherst College women’s lacrosse team earned a first-round bye to its sixth NCAA Tournament and will host NCAA Regional play this weekend. The Jeffs will take on the winner of Wednesday’s first-round matchup between the University of Scranton and Western New England College in Saturday’s first regional semifinal at 11:30 a.m., and Plymouth State University and Ithaca College will square off in the second game at 2:30 p.m. Ticket prices are $3 for adults and $2 for students with ID. The winners will meet in the regional championship game Sunday at 1 p.m. with a trip to the NCAA Final Four at St. John Fisher College in Rochester, N.Y. at stake.

Amherst (14-2) has swept regional play in each of the last three seasons and played in three of the last four national championship games, falling to Middlebury in 1999 and 2001 before breaking through with the program’s first-ever NCAA title in 2003. The Jeffs are led by two-time NESCAC and ECAC Player of the week Ashley Harmeling (N. Reading, MA), who tops the team in goals (63), assists (40) and points (103). Harmeling tied a single-season school record with her 103rd point on Sunday and is now just three goals and eight assists shy of matching school records in those categories as well. Harmeling is a newcomer to collegiate lacrosse, but senior tri-captains Liz Martin (Baltimore, MD), Jackie Sargent (Concord, MA) and Allison Aldrich (Cornwall, VT) bring a wealth of postseason experience. The reigning Division III Midfielder of the Year and a First-Team All-America selection in 2003, Martin has amassed 219 points in only three seasons at Amherst and is just 13 goals shy of the college’s career record of 184, held by Kristin Osborn ’01. Aldrich, a Second-Team All-NESCAC selection last season, is Amherst’s third leading scorer with 54 points on 42 goals and 12 assists. Sargent, a Second-Team All-New England pick in 2003, earned National Player of the Week honors with four goals and three assists in a 13-8 win at then eighth-ranked Mary Washington College earlier this season. Meanwhile, senior Christine Ryan (Summit, NJ) and junior Olivia D’Ambrosio (Farmington, CT) lead a stingy Amherst defense. Ryan is second on the Jeffs with 39 ground balls and 26 caused turnovers. D’Ambrosio is one of the top goaltenders in the NESCAC with 179 saves and an 8.71 goals against average.

Western New England College (14-3) captured its second New England Women's Lacrosse Alliance (NEWLA) Championship in three years with an 11-5 victory over Bridgewater State College. Senior Shannon Pizzingrilli leads the Golden Bears in scoring with 94 points (51 goals, 43 assists), followed by senior Jamie Carney with 59 points (30-29). Pizzingrilli was selected both the WNEC Senior Scholar-Athlete-of-the-Year and Coca-Cola Female Athlete-of-the-Year. This is only the sixth year of varsity competition for Western New England.

After beginning the season at 0-4, Scranton (13-4) enters NCAA Tournament play on a 13-game winning streak. The Royals claimed their second straight Middle Atlantic Conference title with wins over Messiah College and Drew University, earning their second NCAA Tournament berth in the program’s five-year history. Senior midfielder Kate Pierangeli, a three-time first-team all-Middle Atlantic Conference selection, is Scranton’s third all-time leading scorer with 156 career points. Defensively, all-conference selection Catherine Russin, three-year starter Kate Nelson, junior Jeanne-Marie Lanza, sophomore Meghan O'Rourke and sophomore goalie Courtney Enman have been instrumental in holding 11 opponents in single digits this season.

Undefeated Plymouth State (16-0) captured its fifth consecutive conference championship and third straight Little East title with a 9-5 win over Keene State College, recording their school-record 16th victory of the season and extending their current winning streak to 25 games, dating back to last season. The Panthers are making their third NCAA Tournament appearance in the last five years, having bowed out in the first round in both 2000 and 2001. The offense is led by three-time Little East Player of the Year Katie Sheridan, who tops the team with 98 points on 73 goals and 25 assists.

Coming off a first-place finish in the Empire 8 Tournament, Ithaca (12-4) won the regular-season title with a 7-0 conference record before downing Hartwick (15-5) and Nazareth (9-8) in the league playoffs. Senior Michelle Schlegel leads the Bombers in scoring (63, on 40 goals and 23 assists), ground balls (55) and draw controls (44) and is the college’s all-time leading scorer with 241 career points.

    AMHERST IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT: Sixth appearance / 12-4 all-time (5-0 home, 7-4 road)
  • 1996 (Fell to Trenton State, 20-9, in first round)
  • 1999 (Beat visiting Colorado College, 21-13, in first round… won at Bowdoin, 15-9, in national quarterfinals… beat the College of New Jersey, 11-8, in Final Four… fell to Middlebury, 10-9, in National Championship game)
  • 2001 (First-round bye… beat visiting Wellesley, 20-10, in second round… beat visiting Ithaca, 13-6, in national quarterfinals… beat the College of New Jersey, 11-10 in overtime, in Final Four… fell to Middlebury, 11-10 in overtime, in National Championship game)
  • 2002 (First-round bye… beat visiting Colorado College, 15-8, in second round… beat visiting Union, 13-6, in national quarterfinals… fell to the College of New Jersey, 10-7, in Final Four)
  • 2003 (First-round bye… beat SUNY Cortland, 20-9, at Gettysburg in second round… beat Regional host Gettysburg, 12-5, in national quarterfinals... beat the College of New Jersey, 12-10, in Final Four... beat Middlebury, 11-9, in National Championship game)