LOUISVILLE, Ky. – When West Chester beat Rollins in Thursday’s Division II Women’s Lacrosse semifinals and C.W. Post dispatched Le Moyne, it was a new experience for both against a pair of upstart programs trying to climb the ladder of national respectability.
By comparison, Saturday’s national championship duel at Bellermine’s Owlsby B. Frazier Stadium will hold as much surprise for West Chester and C.W. Post as a pair of well broken in sneakers or a favorite lacrosse stick.
The Golden Rams. The Pioneers. Together again, with what for both programs would be a historic national championship on the line. The latest chapter in an ongoing rivalry of evenly matched programs.
“It’s who wants it more,” C.W. Post attacker Jackie Sileo said. “We’re skilled, they’re skilled. We’re not here in the championship by accident. It’s about who fights harder for each ground ball.”
Both programs have reached the Division II semifinals 10 times, more than any other school. Both have won the NCAA championship two times, each having done so at the other team’s expense. And both have the chance to join five-time champion Adelphi as the only programs to win three or more titles.
It’s a tradition of excellence that is a burden players for both programs must be willing to accept when they chose sides.
“It’s handed down from the seniors to freshmen as they come in,” said West Chester coach Ginny Martino, now in her 15th season at the Pennsylvania school. “It’s about how we do things to get here. That’s what we shoot for. It’s handed down from player to player more than it is from me.
“These guys carry out the plan.”
Planning on crossing paths with each other would be appropriate.
Three times previously they’ve met for the championship, with C.W. Post holding the edge (the Pioneers also lead the series 7-6).
C.W. Post won 13-9 in 2001 in Easton, Mass., then beat West Chester 15-7 in 2007 in Salem, Va. A year later they squared off in Houston at the previous Division II National Championships spring festival, with West Chester squeaking past 13-12.
Unknowingly, but not surprisingly, the Golden Rams and Pioneers staged a preview of their championship match back on April 24 at West Chester. The Golden Rams rallied from a 12-11 deficit with a seven-goal run sparked by four goals from midfielder Jamie Dolan to pull off an 18-15 comeback.
“Hopefully that (game) helps us in preparing, knowing how they prepare and play against us,” said West Chester midfielder Lauren Glassey. She had five goals in Thursday’s 19-10 win over Rollins.
The defeat still has the Pioneers smoldering.
“Right after that game we said we should never have lost,” said Sileo, the East Coast Conference Player of the Year.
“We had a good lead and I have to hand it to them. They came back and beat us.”
Neither side is begrudging in saying what they admire about the other.
“They’re good at draw control,” said Sileo, whose Pioneers outscored Le Moyne 15-10. “Their ride is really aggressive. They’re aggressive on ball and on defense. They’re patient on offense. They hold the ball for the best option.”
“They have a lot of kids who can do a lot of things well,” Martino said of C.W. Post. “They have a tremendous assist player in Sileo. She can thread the needle with the ball and they have players at the other end who can receive it and score with ease. And they have a very good goalie (Dominique Mosca). They have a lot of talent.”
Despite their frequent and usually important clashes, C.W. Post coach Meghan McNamara says the rivalry isn’t a bitter one.
“It’s not a nasty rivalry,” she said. “To say it’s an angry rivalry, no, but competitive-wise there’s an edge to playing West Chester.
“Ginny and I are friends. Not (Saturday) though.”