Franciscan jumps to the PAC

Presidents' Athletic Conference photo

The Presidents’ Athletic Conference announced the addition of Franciscan University of Steubenville as the league’s 10th full member Tuesday morning, April 16. The formal vote to admit Franciscan as a full-time member was held at the PAC Presidents’ Council meeting in Pittsburgh on April 11.

Franciscan is currently a member of the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference. The school will be the PAC’s first full member added since 2007, when both Chatham University and Geneva College were admitted. 

Currently in its first season as a PAC affiliate member in men’s and women’s lacrosse, Franciscan will compete in women’s golf and men’s and women’s indoor and outdoor track and field during the 2019-20 academic year. Franciscan’s 14 additional NCAA Division III sports will be eligible for PAC championships and all-conference honors in 2020-21.

With this year’s addition of men’s and women’s lacrosse the number of PAC-sponsored championship sports sits at 23 (12 men, 11 women).

"On behalf of the PAC, we are thrilled to welcome Franciscan University of Steubenville as the newest PAC full member. The PAC Presidents’ Council was very impressed with the school's academic stature and student-centered focus in a faith-based learning environment, as well as its commitment to continuing to develop a broad-based, successful NCAA Division III athletic program,” said PAC Commissioner Joe Onderko, in his 13th year as the league’s top administrator. “We believe they will make a seamless transition to our PAC culture, and look forward to them competing in all PAC championships beginning in the 2020-21 academic year."

In the 11-year history with the AMCC, the Barons have captured 20 Coach of the Year Honors, 22 Player of the Year winners, and 19 Newcomer of the Year honorees while winning 21 team championships.
"We have thoroughly enjoyed our experience with our Allegheny Mountain family," said Franciscan athletic director Mike Holmes. "We have had a good working relationship with the schools and some competitive contests with the members. I am confident we will continue to work together in non-conference competition to continue those relationships."
"As we look forward to full membership in the PAC in 2020, we are grateful to the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference which has been our home for more than a decade," remarked Schmiesing. "The support of the AMCC presidents and athletic directors, and especially the guidance of Commissioner Donna Ledwin, was essential to Franciscan University's re-launch of our intercollegiate athletics program and entry into the NCAA Division III."
"The Presidents' Athletic Conference represents such a desirable fit for Franciscan," continued Holmes. "Geographic reasons are obvious. Our students will miss less class and we will save a great deal of our travel budget for our conference contests going forward. Beyond the advantage of proximity, we will be able to enjoy associations with schools that share some aspects of our academic profile and mission."

The 10-member AMCC has six private schools, including Franciscan, and four state schools.

"Varsity athletics is an integral part of the Franciscan University educational experience. Our athletic program is well known for creating a faith-centered environment that promotes ongoing personal conversion and the development of Christian virtues and character. We are excited that this integration of mind and spirit will continue with our new affiliation in the Presidents' Athletic Conference," remarked Franciscan's president, Fr. Sean Sheridan, TOR.
"Franciscan University is excited about our full membership in the Presidents' Athletic Conference. We have been playing against so many PAC schools for years in many of our sports, and we look forward to continuing and strengthening those friendly rivalries. The PAC is a great fit for Franciscan University, and we are committed to being an active and collaborative member, working with all of the other great schools in the conference to provide a high-quality Division III athletic experience for our student-athletes," said David Schmiesing, vice president of student life.
Franciscan brings 17 varsity sports to the PAC in 2020-21 and for the first time since becoming full members of the NCAA, all of the Baron NCAA teams will compete under the same conference affiliation.
In the fall of 2008, Franciscan athletics was in its second year as a provisional member of the NCAA and accepted membership into the AMCC. Since that time, the following sports have competed in the AMCC: baseball (2008-11), men's and women's basketball, men's and women's cross country, men's and women's lacrosse (2017-18), men's and women's soccer, softball, women's swimming and diving, men's and women's tennis, and volleyball. The men's and women's track and field teams have competed as part of the Colonial States Athletic Conference since the 2016 outdoor season. 
The PAC's nine full-time member institutions are: Bethany, Chatham, Geneva, Grove City, St. Vincent, Thiel, Washington & Jefferson, Waynesburg and Westminster (Pa.).

Wesleyan beats national power to win first title

The Wesleyan University men's lacrosse team made history on Sunday afternoon as the Cardinals won the 2018 NCAA Division III men's lacrosse championship with an 8-6 victory over Salisbury at Gillette Stadium. Senior Harry Stanton, the program's all-time leader in goals, was named the Most Outstanding Player as he scored two more, as well as an assist on another.

The Wesleyan Cardinals played in their first national championship game ever while the Sea Gulls (20-4) were looking to capture their third-straight title and 13th overall, which would have tied Hobart's Division III record for most championships. Additionally, with the win, coach John Raba brings home the first-ever national team title in Wesleyan history. 

"It's an incredible moment for our program," said Raba. "Our senior group has worked so hard for years now, so it's not just, you know, today's day. This is the culmination of what we've been doing and guys believing that we had the team to get to a national championship and win it."

The Cardinals came out strong and jumped out to a 4-0 lead within the first 7:51 of play — with goals from four players — and they never looked back. Salisbury got within one, twice, and scored the first goal of the second half to trail 5-4 with 10:12 to play in the third quarter. However, Wesleyan rallied nicely with a 3-0 run and despite getting shut out in the fourth, the Cardinals' stifling defense made it difficult for Salisbury to find an open shot.  

"We made a few mental mistakes and great teams make you pay early in the game," said Salisbury coach Jim Berkman. "No, I never thought being down 4-0 was going to be a problem. We were down 5-1 at York before. I knew we just had to kind of grind it and take one possession at a time. But, again, we did a great job defensively after those first three minutes to grind it back and give us an opportunity and really hold a pretty high-powered offense very low for a long period of time."

Wesleyan's national champion men's lacrosse team Wesleyan athletics photo

The eight goals scored by the Cardinals ties the team's lowest output this season, for a squad ranked 46th in the nation in goals per game, averaging 12.90. It is just the third time all season Wesleyan has scored single-digit goals with the last time coming back on April 21 in an 8-7 win over Hamilton College.  

The Cardinals found the scoreboard in the game's opening 34 seconds for an early, 1-0 lead as Taylor Ghesquiere netted one of his two goals for the afternoon. Their offense continued to click as junior midfielder Christian Barker capped off a long offensive possession with his 28th goal of the season to push the advantage to 2-0 in favor of Wesleyan just over two minutes later.

The lead grew for Wesleyan when Harry Stanton popped in his 59th goal of the season to make it 3-0 Cardinals, just over four minutes into the contest. Carter Hawthorne pushed the lead to 4-0 at the 7:09 mark of the opening quarter marking the first time since March 4 against Ohio Wesleyan university, which the Sea Gulls have fallen behind 4-0 to start a game.  

Zach Pompea, who finished tied for the team-high in goals with two, broke the near 15-minute scoring drought getting Salisbury on the board with two seconds left to play in the opening frame. It marked the Sea Gulls' longest scoring drought of the NCAA tournament and longest in a game this season since the team's game at York College of Pennsylvania back on March 24, which lasted 14:45.

Corey Gwin continued the offensive run as he netted his two markers in the contest less than two minutes apart to cut the deficit to 4-3. Gwin first finished off a pass from Josh Melton before tallying his second goal off a feed from Pierre Armstrong. 

The Cardinals regained their offensive momentum after denying a Salisbury man-up opportunity, which the Sea Gulls were 0-for-3 on the afternoon, turning defense into offense. Stanton netted his second marker of the day to push the Cardinals' lead to 5-3 and breaking a 26-minute scoring drought by Wesleyan.

The teams headed to the break with Salisbury trailing Wesleyan 5-3. It marked the first time since 2010 that the maroon and gold trailed at halftime of a national championship. The Sea Gulls were behind by four, 7-3, to Tufts, in that contest.

Melton tallied his second point and first marker of the afternoon to pull the Sea Gulls back within one, 5-4, at the 10:12 mark of the third quarter. Melton finished off the second assist of the day from Armstrong less than five minutes into the second half.

However, Wesleyan quickly netted two goals in just over 60 seconds to push the lead to 7-4 with 7:41 left to play in the third quarter. Ghesquiere netted his second of the game before Corey Aviles tallied his second goal of the season to help build the advantage.

The lead only grew for the Cardinals in the third quarter as they built it up to four goals again, 8-4, at the 4:30 mark of the third frame. Hawthorne netted his second tally of the contest finishing off the Stanton offering to take the four-goal lead.

Salisbury entered the final frame trailing 8-4, its largest three-quarter deficit of the NCAA tournament this season and just fourth time all season the maroon and gold have trailed entering the fourth quarter.

Griffin Moroney pulled the Gulls back within three when he finished off a great pass from Pompea for his first marker of the day. Pompea threaded the ball through a sea of sticks to top side left, and without hesitation Moroney got off a great step down shot burying the ball into the far side of the cage.

Salisbury turned defense into offense with less than six minutes left to play as Brandon Warren, who finished his day with 11 saves, made a big stop right in front of the net sending the ball back out into the field of play. Will Nowesnick scooped up one of his three groundballs for the afternoon and found a streaking Jeremiah LaClair who made a pass to a cutting Pompea, who fired a shot right between Wesleyan goalie Otto Bohan's legs for his second marker of the day to bring the score final at 8-6.

The Sea Gulls were unable to break through the Wesleyan defense over the final five minutes taking nine shots in the waning minutes of the game but were unable to get anything past Bohan.

"I think the difference in the game for us, when you're playing a team that plays zone and the game's going to be a grind, is clearing and possession. We've been clearing it like 98 percent this season and we missed five clears today. That's very uncharacteristic of us. Five possessions in a game like this one are critical," Berkman said.

Salisbury took 28 shots compared to Wesleyan's 40 but did manage to scoop up 39 groundballs to the Cardinals' 23. However, the maroon and gold committed 15 turnovers including failing on five clears going 15-of-20 while Wesleyan successfully completed 16-of-18 clears and turned the ball over just 10 times.

"This is one of the best coaching years I've ever had in my life because every day I was working with three guys that were green," Berkman said. "I was trying to get those guys better and motivate them to do extra things outside of the 3:00 to 5:00 practice time. This is one of the most enjoyable years I've ever had at Salisbury. Great team, great teammates, hard work ethic, open to criticism at the right times and took it the right way. It was an exciting year to coach. All the one-goal games we won and how much they believed in each other, man, that's why you coach."


Lightning strikes twice in Salem for Bullets

SALEM, Va.  It took a day of waiting out thunderstorms, but when the opening draw finally took place in the 2018 NCAA Division III women's lacrosse championship, lightning managed to strike twice as third-ranked Gettysburg took down No. 4 Middlebury 11-9 to capture its second conecutive national title at Kerr Stadium on the campus of Roanoke College.
Gettysburg (21-2) became just the fourth Division III program to repeat as national champion and it came exactly 365 days after its 2017 title. The institution is also just one of five D3 schools to claim at least three national titles joining TCNJ (12), Middlebury (6), Salisbury (3), and Ursinus (3). The Bullets won their first NCAA title in 2011.
"They were bold enough in the beginning of the year to say let's do that again and when you make that commitment it comes with a whole lot of work and a whole lot of sacrifice and a whole lot of unselfishness," said coach Carol Cantele '83, who has led Gettysburg to all three of its NCAA championships.

Junior Steph Colson (Westminster, Md./Manchester Valley) was named Most Outstanding Performer of the NCAA Division III championship for the second straight season. Colson posted one goal, three assists, three ground balls, a caused turnover, and nine draw controls in Monday's title game. She tallied a total of 18 draw controls in the semifinals and championship and extended her program and conference season record to 140.

Sophomore Liza Barr (Medford, N.J./Shawnee) led the offense with a career-high five goals. Senior Katie Willis (Baltimore, Md./Notre Dame Prep) posted a pair of goals, while freshman Kerry McKeever (Stony Brook, N.Y./Ward Melville) tallied a goal and an assist.

Gettysburg celebrates
Junior Bailey Pilder (New Canaan, Conn./New Canaan) recorded a dozen saves, two ground balls, and a caused turnover. Senior Cassie Smith (Phoenix, Md./St. Paul's School for Girls) recorded four ground balls and two caused turnovers.
Barr, Pilder, and Smith joined Colson on the all-tournament team. Smith landed a spot on the squad for the second year in a row.
"I'm so incredibly proud of the seniors and what they accomplished this year," said Pilder. "I'm going to miss them so much next year. I think as a group we're an amazing new team this year and we had our own dream."
Emma McDonagh led Middlebury (20-3) with three goals and one assist. Kirsten Murphy tossed in two goals and passed out an assist, while Casey O'Neill tallied a pair of goals. Goalie Kate Furber logged five saves.
After beating Salisbury 12-7 in Saturday's semifinal, Gettysburg was forced to wait an extra day to defend its national championship. Sunday featured incessant thunderstorms in the area and after multiple delays, the game was pushed back to Monday morning.
Despite the postponement, both teams were ready to excite the crowd with a thrilling national championship game. The Bullets struck first as Pilder set the tone defensively with a save on a shot by Hollis Perticone and the offense answered on the other end. Colson fed the ball into Barr for the game's first tally just over two minutes in.
Middlebury, which beat top-ranked TCNJ 13-9 in the semis, came right back with goals by McDonagh and Casey O'Neill to seize a 2-1 lead.
"We knew they were going to be good," said Smith. "For us it was about sticking to fundamentals. We just had to get our bodies and sticks up and just believe."
Gettysburg roared back with four of the next five goals. Barr and Colson put the Bullets back in front and following a temporary 3-3 tie, McKeever and sophomore Courtney Patterson (Whitehouse Station, N.J./Hunterdon Central Regional) made it a 5-3 advantage with 16:13 remaining in the opening half of play.
The Panthers didn't let the margin grow any more in the first period as O'Neill found a seam past Pilder and then Kirsten Murphy tallied a game-tying goal. Pilder prevented more first-half damage with a pair of saves on back-to-back Middlebury possessions.
Gettysburg strolled into the break with the lead thanks to Barr, who fielded a pass from McKeever and fired it home for a 6-5 advantage.
Barr's final first-half tally was the start of a momentum-changing run in the game. Gettysburg went on to score six of seven goals beginning with that shot.
"They were playing a backer so the goal was to move it quick twice and then cross it over," said Colson. "I think we did that as best we could. We fed it to the middle a couple times, got a few eight-meters, and capitalized on that. I think we broke their defense down and that was great."
The goalies combined for five saves in the opening seven minutes of the final stanza, but eventually the Bullets' relentless attack started the find openings. A failed clear by Middlebury led to a quick run up the field by Colson who dished it off to Willis for a score with 22:46 left.
"Our attack loves when they are able to stop a clear and that's hard to do against a team like Middlebury," noted Cantele. "I think that may have put a little more jump in our step."
Less than a minute later, junior Lauren Cole (Madison, Conn./Daniel Hand) tossed in a free-position goal to make it an 8-5 lead.
Middlebury stemmed the tide with a goal by Georgie Carroll at 19:16, but Gettysburg's defense shut out the Panthers over the next 12 minutes, enabling the offense to go on a three-goal run.
"Defensively, it was all about trust," said Smith. "We trust Bailey in the goal. She's fantastic. We never had doubt and we always believed. We knew they were going to come back fighting and we just had to come back with that same intensity."
A free-position goal by Willis and a pair of scores by Barr gave the Bullets what seemed an insurmountable 11-6 lead with 13:17 to go. But Middlebury was far from done and Gettysburg knew it still had a fight in store to capture the championship.
McDonagh produced back-to-back goals before another tally by Murphy sliced the deficit to just two (11-9) with only 4:09 on the clock. On the ensuing draw, Colson swooped in for the ball and Gettysburg ran off a minute before turning the ball over.
Getman's last shot was stopped by Pilder and Gettysburg quickly cleared it up the field with just over two minutes to play. Cantele called one final time out to discuss the game plan with her team heading into the final minutes.
"We knew that if we maintained possession they wouldn't have another opportunity to go down to the goal," said the coach. "Our communication during the time out was just let the ball move around and throw it stick to stick. If they're coming at you, just run away from the pressure. Keep the ball in our offensive third of the field."
The Bullets did just that, avoiding the pressure of the Panthers and running out the final seconds. The players on the sidelines rushed the field and the team hoisted the NCAA trophy high above the turf at Kerr Stadium once again.
"I'm still kind of in shock," said Colson in the moments after the final horn. "It's amazing. The last five seconds I was just like we did it, we did it again. I'm so excited. I had no doubt in my mind that we'd be back here."
"These are my girls," noted Smith. "This is a family. We do this for each other. We did it as one unit today. Attack, defense, no matter what, we were one today and that was just huge. I couldn't ask for anything better and I couldn't ask for a better set of girls to do it with either."
Gettysburg tied its single-season record for victories. The Bullets also made it a clean sweep of conference and national titles after claiming the Centennial Conference championship in early May, a feat the team was unable to accomplish in 2011 and 2017.
Gettysburg's seven seniors – Willis, Smith, Ali Gorab (Southport, Conn./Ludlowe), Katie Landry (Hingham, Mass./Hingham), Maggie McClain (Wexford, Pa./Sewickley Academy), Elsie Wagner (Berwyn, Pa./Conestoga), and Maggie Welsh (Rye, N.Y./Holy Child) – leave campus with more wins as a group (76) than any graduating class in program history.
Mere minutes after completing the championship run, Cantele cited the influence of former athletic trainer Kerry Garrett on the team this season. Garrett passed away last November following a lengthy fight with a rare former of cancer called cholangiocarcinoma. She had received her 2017 NCAA Championship ring not long before her passing.
"I felt like today they definitely lived like Kerry," said Cantele. "They were positive, they were fearless, and they were optimistic. That's a great way to finish knowing they left it all out on the field."

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