May 23, 2010

By Jeff Seidel
Special to

Gettysburg, Pa. - West Chester came into this weekend's NCAA Division II women's lacrosse Final Four with a history of good luck in the national semifinals. That streak continued in Saturday's game against Lock Haven.

The Golden Rams were trailing by five midway through the second half against a Lock Haven team that beat them by 10 earlier in the month. But West Chester stormed back to force overtime, and then Jackie Hoover got the game-winner for a 9-8 victory over the Eagles Saturday night at Gettysburg College.

West Chester (19-1) scored the game's final six goals, something even more impressive considering how Lock Haven rolled to a 16-6 victory over the Golden Rams on May 1 in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference final.

The victory improved West Chester's record in national semifinal games to 8-0. They won the NCAA title in 2002 and 2008.

But the key to this victory came when Claire Grimwood and Nicole Haines scored 43 seconds apart to cut the lead to 8-5 with 13 minutes, 20 seconds left.

"You could see the tide changing," said West Chester coach Ginny Martino. "We've been down two, three, five [goals]. They never give up. They're such fighters."

Despite losing to Lock Haven (16-2) in the last game, the Golden Rams controlled the second half and overtime. They outshot the Eagles, 21-11, after halftime and also were successful on 11-of-15 clears.

But Lock Haven could get only 7-of-15 clears in that time, and the turnovers hurt the Eagles.

"Today, we did what we needed to do," Grimwood said.

They now play Adelphi at 3 p.m. Sunday in the national championship game.

A LITTLE BIT OF REVENGE: Adelphi (18-1) certainly wanted to return to the championship game for a shot at a second consecutive national title. But the Panthers also wanted some revenge against a C.W. Post team that ruined its perfect season.

They got their wish with an impressive 14-9 victory over C.W. Post (17-2) - a team that handed Adelphi a 21-16 defeat earlier this month.

The Panthers made no bones about what their goals were in this game.

"We just wanted revenge, and that's what we got," said Demmianne Cook, who led the way with five goals.

Adelphi coach Joe Spallina said he spent quite a bit of time getting ready for this game, trying to see what happened last time.

"The kids were humbled; I was humbled," he said.

LOSING STEAM: Lock Haven coach Kristen Selvage didn't make any excuses after her team blew a five-goal second-half lead and watched West Chester rally for a 9-8 victory.

"I think we let up," she said. "I think we thought we had it in the bag."

Loch Haven had beaten West Chester, 16-6, earlier this month and was up 8-3 midway through the second half when everything fell apart.

The Golden Rams scored five in a row to force overtime and won it there.

"We weren't as confident," said Leigh Titus, who had four goals and one assist. "It was very rushed."

Said goalie Kira Nuttall: "I felt the level of intensity went down."

That's why Golden Rams were able to take charge and come back, finding their way into Sunday's championship game.

THE RIVALRY: C.W. Post coach Meghan McNamara said that the rivalry between her team and Adelphi just added something to an already emotional Division II national semifinal Saturday.

McNamara was frustrated that her Pioneers suffered a 14-9 loss to Adelphi, but the coach said getting a chance to play that team twice in three games was an opportunity she wouldn't want to miss.

"We love the competition," she said. "I don't think anyone would pass it up."

McNamara said going against Adelphi is another way for her players to grow, especially in a big game like this.

"We get to play against the best," she said.

The Pioneers knew exactly what they had to do in this game - especially because of their 21-16 victory over Adelphi earlier this month. But they also didn't expect a cake-walk.

"We knew we had to come in 10 times stronger," said C.W. Post's Staci Passafiume.