Rookie Dana Kuper (in foreground) has the most appearances (18) and starts (3) of any Amherst first-year, with six assists, a pair of goals and 26 ground balls.
Third-Ranked Jeffs Set to Defend National Championship
May 12, 2004
AMHERST, MA - With a pair of lopsided regional wins over the University of Scranton and 12th-ranked Plymouth State University, the defending national champion Amherst College women’s lacrosse team earned its fifth overall and fourth consecutive trip to the NCAA Division III Final Four, hosted by St. John Fisher College in Rochester, NY, where they’ll face top-ranked and undefeated Middlebury College (17-0) Saturday at 2:30 p.m. in a rematch of last year’s national championship game. The winner will face either fourth-ranked Salisbury University (16-2) or the second-ranked College of New Jersey (17-0) Sunday at 1 p.m. Sunday’s national championship game will be televised live on College Sports Television (CSTV) - channel 611 on DirecTV, also available on some local cable systems.
Weekend ticket packages are $10, while individual game tickets are $6 for adults, $4 for students with ID and $2 for children under 12. Tickets will only be sold at Growney Stadium’s main gate prior to games.
Amherst, 16-2 and ranked third in the nation, crushed Scranton 20-4 and cruised past previously undefeated Plymouth State 21-6 in regional play, improving to 14-4 (7-0 at home) all-time in six NCAA Tournament appearances (Amherst first became eligible for NCAA Tournament play in 1994). Saturday’s matchup against Middlebury is particularly intriguing. The Jeffs have lost only four games in the last two seasons with all four losses coming against Middlebury. Conversely, Amherst is the only team to beat Middlebury since the 2000 NCAA Semifinals, having snapped the Panthers’ 51-game winning streak with an 11-9 win in last year’s national title game. Overall, Amherst has appeared in three of the last five NCAA Championship games and five of the last six NCAA Final Fours.
The Jeffs are led by four outstanding all-conference seniors - Liz Martin (Baltimore, MD), Allison Aldrich (Cornwall, VT), Jackie Sargent (Concord, MA) and Christine Ryan (Summit, NJ) - who have collectively amassed a 65-10 record over four seasons.
Martin, a three-time All-America and the 2003 Warrior/Inside Lacrosse Division III Midfielder of the Year, is just one goal shy of the Amherst career record of 184, held by Kristin Osborn ’01. Including a prolific 85-goal, 19-assist rookie campaign at Goucher College, Martin is the 11th all-time leading scorer in NCAA Division III history with 336 career points and is fifth all-time with 268 career goals (according to the Division III record book, which was last updated after the 2003 season). She’s currently second in the NESCAC in both points (88) and goals (64).
Aldrich, a three-time All-NESCAC selection, is fourth in the NESCAC in points (64) and tied for fifth in goals (49). She earned NESCAC Player of the Week honors for the period ending April 12, combining for nine goals in a pair of lopsided victories over conference rivals Connecticut College and Bowdoin.
Sargent was awarded National Player of the Week Honors by Inside Lacrosse for the period ending March 21, with four goals and three assists in a 13-8 win at then eighth-ranked Mary Washington College. She’s currently fourth on the team in both goals (30) and points (36) and was a Second-Team All-New England selection as a junior.
Ryan has started 17 of 18 games on defense and is tied for third on the team in caused turnovers (29) and is fourth in ground balls (43). She also co-captained the Amherst field hockey team last fall, earning Third-Team All-America honors.
Despite its wealth of senior leadership, Amherst’s most dominant player is a junior in her first season of collegiate lacrosse. NESCAC Player of the Year Ashley Harmeling (N. Reading, MA) leads the conference in goals (72), assists (50) and points (122), shattering single-season school records in all three categories after combining for nine goals and 10 assists in two NCAA Tournament games. She leads the team in ground balls (58) and caused turnovers (35) and was also the NESCAC Player of the Year in women’s soccer.
Look for juniors Cate Smith (Saint James, MD) Jenna Swan-Gross (Philadelphia, PA) and Olivia D’Ambrosio (Farmington, CT), and sophomores Scotty Hanley (Sparks, MD), Margaret Chute (Pawtucket, RI), Laura Brown (Bethesda, MD) and Caitie Parker (Bethesda, MD) to contribute as well. Smith has emerged as a starter and a scoring threat with 13 goals and 12 assists on the year. Swan-Gross has started 17 games on defense and is sixth on the team in ground balls (32) and seventh in caused turnovers (15). D’Ambrosio has played every minute in goal and is third in the NESCAC in both goals against average (8.30) and save percentage (.567). Hanley scored a goal and dished out two assists in Amherst’s NCAA second-round victory over Scranton and is fifth on the team in assists (11) and sixth in both goals (12) and points (23). Chute is a key factor on defense, currently second on the team in ground balls (50) and caused turnovers (30) to go along with a goal and two assists. Brown has started all 18 games and is third on the team in ground balls (44) and tied for third in caused turnovers (29), while turning the ball over just five times. Parker scored a pair of goals in Sunday’s national quarterfinal win over Plymouth State and is seventh on the team in both goals (8) and points (11).
Meanwhile, rookie attacker Dana Kuper (Denver, CO) has the most appearances (18) and starts (3) of any Amherst first-year, with six assists, a pair of goals and 26 ground balls, while fellow first-years Lauren Dudley (Butler, MD) and Liz Wise (Scarsdale, NY) have each appeared in 16 games.
AMHERST IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT: Sixth appearance / 14-4 all-time (7-0 home, 7-4 road)
1996: Fell to The College of New Jersey (then known as Trenton State College), 20-9, at Lehigh University 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 national semifinals… 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 national semifinals… 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 national semifinals.
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 national semifinals... beat Middlebury, 11-9, in national championship game.
2004: First-round bye… beat visiting Scranton, 20-4, in second round… beat visiting Plymouth State, 21-6, in national quarterfinals… set to face Middlebury in national semifinals.
NCAA Div III Women's Lacrosse National Championships Website