Gettysburg Turns Focus on NCAA Run

GETTYSBURG, Pa. – When Sunday's second round of the NCAA Division III Women's Lacrosse Championship rolls around, the Gettysburg College women's lacrosse team will be completely focused on making a strong start to what it hopes will be a long and successful postseason run.
 
Gettysburg (16-3) went through a rollercoaster of a weekend, first disposing of a formidable Dickinson College squad in the Centennial Conference semifinals 15-13 before battling Franklin & Marshall College in an epic tournament championship. The Bullets and Diplomats turned in the longest championship game in tournament history that saw the hosts battle back from a two-goal deficit to tie the game with two seconds in regulation. Franklin & Marshall managed to come away with the win and the conference title after 70 minutes of action.
 
"We experienced every possible emotion within a short span of time," said Head Coach Carol Cantele. "We went from heartbreak and disappointment to a sense of pride in our grit and determination towards making a comeback and then to excitement when we found out we are staying home at Clark Field for NCAAs."
 
Cantele and the Bullets clinched a spot in the NCAA Championship for the 16th consecutive season and 17th time in the last 18 years. Only The College of New Jersey (32) and SUNY Cortland (18) boast longer active streaks of participation in the national playoffs.
 
Gettysburg will be hosting NCAA games for the seventh year in a row. The Bullets have made the most of playing on the friendly confines, posting 17 of their 26 NCAA wins on the home turf. The team has not lost at home in its national opener in 15 years.
 
"We are proud of our body of work throughout the season and for the consistency in our performance year in and year out," noted Cantele, who is three wins shy of reaching 400 for her coaching career. "Our players know and understand the tradition of success and they don't take it lightly. They want to continue to be that team that maintains the level of success and maybe even take it one notch higher." 
 
With the grind of the regular season out of the way, the Bullets are in the midst of completing one last obstacle before turning all of their attention to this weekend's contests. Each player has her own set of final papers, projects, and tests to complete as the academic calendar concludes this week.
 
"We understand the delicate balance of academics, especially during finals week and preparing for the NCAAs," said Cantele, a 1983 graduate of Gettysburg. "If our players have prepared academically, the same way we have prepared on the field all season, they should be just fine with this balance."
 
Gettysburg doesn't know who exactly who its opponent will be Sunday, but its choices are narrowed to two foes meeting in the first round Saturday at Clark Field - FDU-Florham (16-3) and Hamline University (15-4).
 
FDU-Florham, located in Madison, N.J., won the Freedom Conference and is making its third consecutive and fourth overall trip to NCAAs. The Devils have won their national opener in each of the last two seasons, including an 11-7 victory over SUNY Polytechnic Institute last season. FDU-Florham visited Gettysburg for the 2015 playoffs, opening with a 12-7 win over Cabrini College before falling to the Bullets 13-6.
 
Hamline, located in Saint Paul, Minn., earned its first bid to nationals in just its second season as a varsity program. The Pipers erased a 5-0 deficit to Concordia University in the championship game of the Midwest Women's Lacrosse Conference and won 10-9 on a goal by Dana Almquist with four seconds left.
 
"We are learning about the tendencies of both FDU and Hamline, but our focus will be primarily on us," said Cantele. "What we do know is that all the teams at this point are talented and committed and will be bringing their very best this weekend."
 
FDU-Florham and Hamline play at 1 p.m. on Saturday. Sunday's game with Gettysburg will also be at 1 p.m.
 
Tickets for the weekend are $6 for adults, $3 for seniors and students ages 13-18 (college students from participating institutions must present ID), and $2 for children ages 3-12. Children under the age of two are admitted free of charge.
 
For additional information about this weekend's NCAA Championship games, please visit the official tournament website: http://www.gettysburgsports.com/sports/2017/5/8/2016-ncaa-division-iii-womens-lacrosse-championship-first-second-round.aspx?id=1493.