William Smith Advances to Final Four With Penalty-Stroke Win Over Cortland|
November 5, 2000
AMHERST, Mass. - William Smith College senior Lauren vonBereghy (Hartland, WI) connected for the lone penalty stroke in the third-overtime tiebreaker, lifting the Herons to a dramatic 3-2 victory over SUNY-Cortland (Cortland State) in the NCAA regional championships on Sunday. With the win, their 18th in a row, William Smith advances to their third Final Four in four years, where they will join Rowan University, Salisbury State University and Springfield College in the national semifinals and finals next weekend at a site to be determined.
|William Smith celebrates its|
third Regional Championship
in the last four years
The penalty-stroke heroics for vonBereghy capped a game full of them, in a rematch of the 1997 NCAA title game, a 3-0 William Smith win. From the opening whistle, the two teams battled back and forth for control of possession, including a pair of early penalty corners earned by the Red Dragons. William Smith's defense, anchored by junior goalie Marjie MacVean (Johnstown, NY) held off the Cortland run, however, and the Herons retaliated with their first scoring opportunity - and first goal - of the afternoon.
Off a William Smith penalty corner, vonBereghy slipped a pass to junior Jackie Hall (Newport, RI), who knocked a shot past Cortland keeper Becky Gillette (Marathon, NY) to give the Herons the 1-0 lead. The offensive pressure continued for William Smith, as they earned four of their five first-half penalty corners within a 15 minute span midway through the period. The offensive pressure paid off with just over 10 minutes remaining before halftime, when a vonBereghy shot was blocked by Gillette, only to have Hall pounce on the rebound and slip it in for her second goal of the half, her 18th of the season.
|Cortland State goalie|
make a first-half save
Beginning immediately after Hall's second goal, however, Cortland rallied, and began to dominate possession, trapping William Smith deep within their own territory. Anchored in the midfield by senior Co-captains Kristine Angell (Camden, NY) and Tori Brown (Liverpool, NY), the Red Dragons threatened the Heron net - and MacVean - repeatedly. Their best opportunity of the first half came with just over six minutes remaining, but a rocket from sophomore Stacey Russell (Rome, NY) off a perfect feed from classmate Julie Gentner (Williamsville, NY) skirted just past the left post, preserving the 2-0 Heron lead. William Smith would take the two-goal lead into the half, but the score was hardly indicative of a half that had seen lots of scoring chances for both teams.
"I told the team at halftime that a 2-0 lead is not big enough," said William Smith Coach Sally Scatton. "We know Cortland so well that playing them is like a neighborhood game, and we knew they would never quit." "The game was definitely not over at 2-0, and we knew that," added vonBereghy. "We know Cortland, and we knew they'd come at us in the second half."
True to form, the Dragons - who had a 1-0 halftime lead in the two team's meeting on October 11, a 2-1 William Smith victory - came out on the offensive from the opening draw after halftime. With Angell and Brown leading the way from the midfield, Cortland trapped William Smith in their own third with a series of long hits for the first five minutes of the half, getting on the board just 2:23 after halftime. Genter deflected a free hit from sophomore Jamie Tull (Whitney Point, NY) to Russell, and the sophomore knocked the pass between MacVean and the left post to cut the Heron lead in half.
From there, the game turned into an all-out war, with both teams mounting significant scoring threats. Just two minutes after the Russell goal, Hall nearly extended the William Smith lead with her third goal of the game, only to have Gillette make a great point-blank save to preserve the one-goal deficit. The back-and-forth action continued through to the game's 50th minute, when Gentner converted a Brown feed to knot the regional championship game at two.
Just 40 seconds after the equalizer, vonBereghy almost regained the lead for William Smith, rifling a shot through the Cortland defense and past Gillette, only to have it slam harmlessly off the left post. The Heron senior had another great scoring chance with nine minutes remaining, but Gillette, who made seven of her game-high 10 saves in the second half, made a great pad save to preserve the tie, a tie that lasted into - and through - overtime.
In the two seven-on-seven overtimes, each team had chances, including a vonBereghy shot with 2:10 remaining in the first OT that skidded just wide left of the Cortland goal, and a Gentner breakaway with 13:30 left in the second extra period, with the Cortland sophomore going one-on-one with MacVean, only to have her shot miss wide to the left as well.
The best chance of the overtimes, however, came with 5:19 left, when Heron junior Nicky Livingston (Whitney Point, NY) was awarded a penalty stroke. Livingston missed wide right, however, and the game headed to penalty strokes, the second straight year for Cortland that the NCAA regional finals survived 100 minutes without an outcome.
|William Smith's Lauren vonBereghy converts |
lone score in thepenalty stroke tie-breaker
to send the Herons to the NCAA
Cortland's Brown went first in the tiebreaker, sending her stroke right at MacVean, who deflected it wide right. Hall went next for William Smith, but Gillette came up with a stop of the junior's shot to keep even. Gentner went second for Cortland, sending a stroke for the left post. MacVean, however, came up with the save of the day, lunging to her right to deflect it away, and setting the stage for vonBereghy. The senior, who had missed a penalty stroke during regulation time in the Herons' 3-0 regional semifinal win on Saturday over New England College, stepped to the line confident.
"We practice strokes every day in practice, and I just overkilled the one I took [on Saturday]," said vonBereghy, who reached the 100-point plateau for her career with her first-half assist.. "I just relaxed and didn't try to overdo it." She didn't, slipping a shot between Gillette's right leg and the left post, and giving William Smith the 1-0 tiebreaker lead. After Cortland missed each of their next three strokes wide of the cage, the Herons had the 3-2 victory, and their third Final Four bid in the last four years.
"This team just refuses to lose," said Scatton, whose squad has now won 18 consecutive games since a season-opening defeat at the hands of Messiah College. "I thought that we would need a few more strokes. I never would have guessed that one would be enough."
It was, however, and the Herons, the top-ranked team in the nation in the latest NFHCA poll, set their sights on Salisbury State University, whom they will face in next Saturday's national semifinal. The other semifinal pits Springfield College - the lone returning Final Four team from last year after knocking out the College of New Jersey, the defending NCAA champions, on Sunday - against Rowan University, 2-0 victors over Williams College on Sunday.
For Cortland, the penalty-stroke loss was cruelly ironic, after the Dragons used penalty strokes to upend Lebanon Valley College in last year's NCAA regional finals en route to the Final Four. Cortland finishes their 2000 campaign with a 13-5 record, after knocking out host Amherst College - who eliminated Cortland from the 1999 Final Four - in Saturday's regional semifinals.
|Saturday, November 5, 2000
|| 1 OT
|William Smith College (18-1)
WS - Jackie Hall (17, Lauren vonBereghy), 23:23 remaining (1st);
WS - Hall (18, unassisted), 10:12 remaining (1st);
C - Stacey Russell (9, Julie Gentner), 32:37 remaining (2nd);
C - Gentner (9, Tori Brown), 19:02 remaining (2nd);
C - (Becky Gillette, 100 min., 2 ga), 10 saves;
WS - (Marjie MacVean, 90 min., 2 ga), 3 saves, (Jessica Kulesa, 10 min., 0 ga),
WS - 17, C - 12;
WS - 27, C - 19;