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Philly grads lead East Stroudsburg to first PSAC women’s title & first NCAA D2 berth

Sunday, 7th May 2017

Categories College, Girl's/Women's  
 

Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 5/7/17
From Press Releases

East Stroudsburg University has been selected to compete in the NCAA Division II Women’s Lacrosse Tournament for the first time in program history after winning its first-ever PSAC championship on Sunday.

ESU (17-2), which has won 12 straight games including a 10-9 win over Mercyhurst in the PSAC championship game, is the No. 3 seed in the South Region and will play No. 6 seed Florida Tech in a first round game on Friday. No. 2 seed Florida Southern will be the sub-regional host and will take on the winner in the second round on Saturday.

On the other side of the South bracket, No. 1 seed Lindenwood (Mo.) will host No. 4 Regis (Colo.) and No. 5 Queens (N.C.).

PSAC Championship: East Stroudsburg 10, Mercyhurst 9

Senior midfielder Emily Fitzsimmons scored three goals to earn PSAC Tournament MVP honors as East Stroudsburg University won its first PSAC women’s lacrosse championship in program history with a 10-9 win over Mercyhurst on Sunday afternoon at Whitenight Field.

ESU (17-2), which won its 12th straight game, prevailed after Mercyhurst (13-5), the defending champion, scored four straight goals to tie the game at 9-9 with 1:57 remaining.

ESU won the ensuing draw control and a wild two minutes included two turnovers by each team, with the Warriors gaining possession on a caused turnover and ground ball pickup by sophomore midfielder Emma Rufolo, the PSAC Athlete of the Year, with 24 seconds left.

After a Mercyhurst foul, junior midfielder Alicia Stratten (Boyertown) found room to run in the midfield for the clear and threw ahead to sophomore attack TJ Jefferis (Phoenixville), who didn’t catch it cleanly, but the loose ball was knocked into the goal by a trailing Mercyhurst defender to put the Warriors ahead 10-9 with 14 seconds left.

Mercyhurst won the draw, and the Lakers managed a shot by Janelle Williams that went high of the ESU goal with two seconds left – then it was on to the celebration as the Warriors made program history.

Fitzsimmons scored three goals, Rufolo had two goals and an assist and junior midfielder Chessie Rahmer (Souderton) and Jefferis had two goals each for ESU.

Freshman midfielder Hana Cicerelle, who had two goals and three assists in Saturday’s 11-9 win vs. IUP, added a goal. Senior attack Lauren Green had two assists and Stratten had the assist on the game-winner.

The Warriors, who improved to 29-7 in two seasons under two-time PSAC Coach of the Year Xeni Barakos, await the announcement of the NCAA Division II Tournament field on Sunday at 8 p.m. on ncaa.com.

ESU was listed No. 3 in the South Region in last week’s rankings. The top six teams in both the North and South regions will be announced tonight.

Barakos, a 2011 ESU graduate and an All-PSAC defender as a senior, has guided ESU to school records for wins (12 in 2016, 17 and counting in 2017) in her first two seasons as head coach.

The Warriors are looking for their first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance.

ESU won the first meeting with Mercyhurst, 16-10, on April 15 behind 22 saves from freshman goalkeeper Tatyana Petteway, but the rematch looked like a low-scoring affair with a 1-1 deadlock late in the first half.

Mercyhurst’s Kristin Anderson scored the game’s first goal at the 17:47 mark, and ESU answered less than a minute later as Rahmer scored on an assist from Green.

It remained 1-1 until the last two minutes of the first half, when Fitzsimmons ripped a pair of goals at the 1:56 and 1:25 marks to give the Warriors a 3-1 lead going into the break.

Anderson scored on a free position 99 seconds into the second half to get Mercyhurst within 3-2.

The Warriors again responded almost immediately, as Rahmer scored unassisted 15 seconds later and Fitzsimmons scored on an assist from Rufolo 34 seconds after that for a 5-2 margin.

Mercyhurst got the next two – Carly Zimmerman, who entered with 56 goals, scored from Anderson and Janelle Williams (42 goals) scored assisted by Taylor Izzo (27 goals, 48 assists) – to get within 5-4 with 20:10 remaining.

ESU once again surged, scoring three straight goals, to establish an 8-4 lead. Cicerelle scored at the 18:41 mark, Rufolo had her first of the game 39 seconds later, and Jefferis scored on an assist from Green for a four-goal cushion with 14:41 left.

Williams scored on a free position for Mercyhurst, and Rufolo pushed the lead back to four (9-5) with a goal with 11:58 remaining.

The next 10 minutes witnessed four Mercyhurst goals as the Lakers rallied to tie it, just as they did in overcoming a 12-8 deficit in a 13-12 (OT) win over West Chester in the semifinals.

Anderson scored on a free position with 9:00 left, Zimmerman scored from Izzo at the 7:39 mark, Williams scored again with 2:25 left and Zimmerman got her third of the game to tie it at 9-9 with 1:57 remaining after Anderson won the draw control.

ESU held a 13-8 advantage on draw controls – 10-6 in the second half – and Rahmer (6 draw controls) had a key win after Mercyhurst had won three of the previous four.

ESU had a turnover and Mercyhurst cleared, leading to a Lakers timeout with 1:28 remaining. Mercyhurst threw the ball away with 51 seconds left, but got it back less than 10 seconds later and worked to set up a shot for the go-ahead goal.

Rufolo made a great play to knock it away from Zimmerman in the final 30 seconds, the possession that ultimately led to the winning goal.

ESU had a 20-17 edge in shots, and forced a 17-15 advantage in turnovers.

The Warriors entered as the PSAC leader in caused turnovers (11.8) and had 14 in the championship game, with three by Rufolo and two each by Stratten, senior defender Bethany Cunningham, sophomore defender Natalie Jacobs and freshman defender Madison Mulligan.

Rufolo, Cunningham and Petteway each had three ground balls. Rahmer (6), Fitzsimmons (3) and Rufolo (2) combined for 11 of ESU’s 13 draw controls.

Zimmerman, Williams and Anderson had three goals each for Mercyhurst, which reached the PSAC championship game for the fifth time in the last six years but was stopped short of a repeat. The Lakers were runner-up in 2012 (Bloomsburg), 2014 and 2015 (Lock Haven) before last year’s 17-12 win vs. West Chester.

ESU was previously PSAC runner-up in 1985 and 1986, both against West Chester, and 2000, an 11-10 setback to Bloomsburg.

The Warriors also won their first PSAC regular season title in program history this spring.

Petteway, the DII leader in save percentage (.557) entering the weekend, had five saves in goal for the Warriors after making 22 vs. the Lakers three weeks ago.


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