Bald Eagle women advance in NCAA lacrosse tourney

LOCK HAVEN – The Lock Haven women’s lacrosse team is on a mission. After dismantling the Pfeiffer Falcons 17-6 Saturday afternoon in the quarterfinal round of the 2014 Division II NCAA championships, consider the first step successfully taken.

The Lady Eagles have had a number of disappointments in the post-season over the past four years, and for that reason, this dominating win was about more than just advancing to the semifinal round of the national championships.

“This win was redemption for us because we wanted this game back from last year,” said LHU coach Kristen Selvage. “We were only one goal from winning this one (quarterfinal game) last year and we wanted to get this one, especially for our seniors, but also for how hard we worked all year. Right now it just feels amazing.”

Lock Haven got out of the gate at a fast pace with two goals by Jenna Dingler and one by Kelly Hamilton to take a 3-0 lead four minutes into the game.

Leah Peppelman temporarily stopped the bleeding for Pfeiffer with a goal at 4:55, but Jessica Pandolf answered the Peppelman goal 14 seconds later. The LHU offensive assault continued with a pair of goals by Chelsea Borrino for a 6-1 Lady Eagle lead at the 11:26 mark of the opening half.

With neither team able to find the net for the next 12 minutes, Rachel Ward and Pandolf scored with 22 seconds of each other. Jill Murray joined the LHU goal scoring parade and 22 seconds after Murray’s goal, Ward tallied her second goal of the game for a 10-1 Haven lead at the break, and the rout was on for a 16th straight victory.

“We felt that starting fast was important for us today,” said Selvage. “They (Pfeiffer) hadn’t played for two weeks and we played just last week so we thought they might be sleeping a little bit. We felt that if we got out fast that maybe we could put them away early. They are a nice team, the players are very polite and I give them all the respect in the world for how hard they worked. But the bottom line is that we really wanted this game and we weren’t going to let anything get in our way.”

Spreading the wealth around has been one of the characteristics of the LHU team all season and Saturday’s game was no different.

“A lot of our players can get it done, they really can,” said Selvage. “We have been telling them all season long that we want to spread the wealth around in terms of scoring and assisting. We don’t want it to become the Pandolf-Borrino show because at some point we are going to encounter a defense that can shut one or both of them down and we need other people to step up.”

Selvage used her bench a little more in this game and for a good reason.

“We wanted to show them that they can also play at this level and they should be confident in what they are doing,” she said.

Following the halftime break, Pfeiffer came out with renewed energy to score two goals in the first five minutes of the second period.

On the heels of an apparent Pfeiffer goal being wiped off the board for an infraction, again it was Pandolf who stopped the Falcon mini-spurt with her third goal.

With her third goal of the game, Pandolf wasn’t finished conducting business as she tallied three more goals to finish with a half dozen for the game.

Midway through the period Pandolf weaved and juked her way through the Falcon defense for her fourth goal of the contest to put the game into the Mercy Rule mode before scoring her final two goals of the afternoon down the stretch.

“We scouted their defense really well and we worked against it a lot in practice,” said Pandolf. “By practicing it, we were able to find gaps in their defense. During the game they left some of the gaps open so I just took them (the opportunities) and finished the goals.”

As for her role in getting the team moving, Pandolf said it was just one of those things she feels she has to do from time to time.

“I try sometimes to be that person and to be that spark,” said Pandolf. “Today was just my day to be that person that everyone else can count on to get the job done.”

As a redshirt junior, Pandolf offered her thoughts on what the victory meant to her.

“I was actually a part of this senior class and it was our third quarterfinal game and we haven’t made it past this round for the past four years,” she said. “I think that meant a lot to the seniors and to be honest about it, I wanted to play my heart out for them because (without a redshirt year) I would have been leaving, too.”

Pfeiffer 1 5 – 6

LHU 10 7 – 17

Pfeiffer Goals: Sarah Daly 3, Katherine Athens 2, Kristi Korn 1. Pfeiffer Assists: Athens 2, Korn 2, Daly 1

LHU Goals: Jessica Pandolf 6, Jenna Dingler 3, Chelsea Borrino 2, Rachel Ward 2, Jill Murray 2, Kelly Hamilton 1, Hope Thomas 1. LHU Assists: Shannon Bissnette 2, Borrino 2, Hamilton 2.

Shots: LHU 38, Pfeiffer 17. Ground Balls: LHU 25, Pfeiffer 13 Free Position Shots: Pfeiffer (0-for-1), LHU (3-for-5). Goalie Saves: Pfeiffer (Cassidy Wilson 2, Rachel McCarthy 8). LHU (Chrissy Baffuto 7).

Next: Lock Haven vs. Lindenwood, May 17 in Salem, Va.