FRIDAY, MAY 09, 2014
Women’s Lacrosse’s Incredible Season Comes to End in First Round of NCAAs
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – In a rematch of last year’s NCAA Tournament opening round, the Jacksonville University women’s lacrosse team met No. 17 Denver at the Donald R. Dizney Stadium in Gainesville, Fla. The Dolphins and Pioneers were evenly matched through the second half until a late run lifted Denver to the 12-8 win.

The contest marked just the second time in program history the Dolphins have lost a game when they played well in both the draw control and caused turnover battles. In fact, the Dolphins are now 42-2 when winning those efforts. Against Denver, the Dolphins finished even in the draw (11-to-11) and edged the Pioneers 9-to-5 in caused turnovers and 26-to-23 in ground balls.

JU rifled 14 shots in the second frame but eight of them were saved by the Pioneer keeper. On paper, the Dolphins played well in every regard but unfortunately were unable to find the back of the net.

Jacksonville concludes its season at 14-6 while Denver improves to 19-1 and advances to the second round of the tourney with a matchup against No. 4 Florida.

“The journey has been incredible,” said Head Coach Mindy McCord. “We prepared all year, starting with fall ball, for this opportunity. The players have worked so hard and put all their effort, time, commitment and dedication out here. I’ve been very proud of the effort level and the trend that our team has created in being excellent on and off the field.”

After controlling the opening draw, the Dolphins maintained possession for nearly three minutes. The Pioneers built a solid defensive front around the crease until Brittney Orashen broke through to score the first goal of the game. The attacker from Lebanon, N.J. then pushed the Dolphins to a 2-0 advantage on her second score with 25:28 remaining. 

By the midpoint of the frame, it seemed as if a pattern had begun to set in- the team that won the draw would score on the possession. Both JU scores were knocked in on preceding draw controls and the Pioneers continued in the pattern.

Attacker Rachel McKinnon erased the Denver deficit on two quick goals at the 21:21 and 20:53 marks and then provided the team its first lead, 3-2, on her third score with 18:51 on the clock.

Trailing by one goal was the most either team would allow as they traded scores until late in the period. Taylor McCord locked the contest at 3-all at 14:14 and the squads tied twice more before a 2-0 Denver run gave the Pioneers a 7-5 tip.

The Dolphins ended their scoreless stretch when Kelsey Wiglesworth caused a Denver turnover around the three minute mark. The ball then landed in the stick of Orashen who ran the full length of the field and ripped it past the Pioneer keeper from 15 yards out. At intermission, the Dolphins entered the locker room behind by two, 8-6.

“At the break, we just said keep doing what you are doing,” continued McCord. “Possessions are everything and we needed to win the possession battle. We came out in the second half and converted a goal but then we lost three draws in a row. At two goals down, we failed to clear and then they went on a three-goal run. I was really happy with our shot selection but unfortunately it wasn’t as strong as it needed to be to keep us in the game.”

The back-and-fourth scoring, 9-7, carried through to the second frame with McCord and Denver’s Jill Remenapp bouncing in scores 40 seconds apart (24:03).

The Pioneers took their largest lead of the afternoon, 10-7, at 15:51 and put two more on the board before Holly Ventimiglia’s goal with 2:25 left in regulation.

Directing the Dolphins, Orashen finished the day with four goals and one assist. McCord added two goals with an assist and Kelsey Wiglesworth and Ventimiglia each added one goal. Playing all 60 minutes in between the pipes, Asia Moore posted four saves.

“It was definitely a big team effort,” said Orashen. “Without my teammates there to set me up for success, I wouldn’t have been able to do what I did today. This game was totally different because we came in knowing what the tournament was like. We had never been before so it was really cool getting here. Last year our nerves were crazy and this year we just had more experience being in an NCAA Tournament. Coming out we had a lot of confidence and it really helped us having seven seniors starting. We set the tone for the rest of the kids coming in.”

Seven Dolphins saw their collegiate careers come to an end in Friday’s game. Co-captains Kaitlin Stewart, Kaylee Quint and Chelsea Watts join teammates Kelly Baisey, Morgan Derner, Ali Hoffman and Rachel Forman in leaving JU with four regular season titles, two conference championships and two trips to the NCAA Tournament.

“We are losing an amazing group of seniors,” said McCord. “They have been the catalyst in our success and set the tone and tempo of our program.  They have been great leaders and came out here today with the belief that they were going to compete at the next level. The seniors stayed in the moment and had a lot of composure and poise. We are thrilled for Britt coming back. She is one of the best players in Division I and she showed it out here today. We have a lot of young players that I think are ready to step up. They have seen a lot and have seen some great leadership. Now it’s time for them to take the next step in our program.”