NCAA Preview: Mount Union Travels to No. 1 Cortland For NCAA Second Round Game Saturday

Kelsey Shewbridge (photo by Steven Kachilla)

Mount Union plays at No. 1 SUNY Cortland in the second round of the NCAA Division III Women's Lacrosse Tournament Saturday at 1 pm at Cortland Stadium Complex in Cortland, N.Y.

Tickets will be available at the game at $3 for adults and $2 for students.

A live video stream and live stats will be provided at http://livestats.prestosports.com/mountunion

In just their second-ever varsity season, the Purple Raiders are 16-2 overall and won their first-ever post-season game with a 16-5 win over Keuka (N.Y.) Wednesday in an NCAA First Round game.

On the other side of the field, SUNY Cortland is 19-0 and ranked No. 1 in the nation. The Red Dragons are second in NCAA history with 18 tournament apperances and have advanced to the national semifinals in each of the last three seasons.

Bracketology

The NCAA Women's Lacrosse Championship is a 36-team field began Wednesday with four first round games and continues Saturday with 16 second round single game sites. Next weeeknd there will be four regionals with four teams and the winners of each regional will advance to the national semifinals and finals May 24-25 in Gettysburg, Pa.

Mount Union, in its second varsity season, won the Ohio Athletic Conference regular season and tournament titles. With only five teams, the OAC did not recieve an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament so the Raiders needed one of five 'Pool B' bids held for independents and non-automatic qualifying conferences.

With the additions of Muskingum and John Carroll next year, the OAC -- the nation's third oldest athletic conference -- will get an automatic bid to the NCAA Women's Lacrosse Tournament.

Cortland won its 16th straight State University of New York Athletic Conference championship to earn the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

NCAA Tournament History

Mount Union is making its first-ever NCAA women's lacrosse tournament apperance and is the first member of the 112-year old OAC to appear in the women's lacrosse post-season. This year Mount Union has sent teams to the NCAA post-season in the football team, which reached the national title game for a ninth straight season, volleyball won a game in an NCAA regional, wrestling had a pair of All-American finishes at the NCAA Championships while the men's indoor track and field team finished sixth in the nation.

Cortland is 18-17 in NCAA Tournament games and the Red Dragons 18 appearances is second only to The College of New Jersey which is making its 29th appearance this season.  Cortland has made it to the national semifinals on four different occasions including each of the last four seasons.

Streaking

Mount Union finished 10-0 at home this season and the Raiders have a 17-game home field winning streak. In fact, Mount Union has a 17-1 record at home in program history and that lone loss was in the program's very first game -- an 8-7 loss to Oberlin on March 2, 2013.

Cortland is also pretty good at home as the Red Dragons have won 53-straight home games dating back to a an 8-7 loss to Hamilton College on March 23, 2010.  Cortland has won 19-straight games overall and it is 19-0 on the season heading into Saturday's game.

Scouting the Red Dragons

Cortland is sixth in the nation in total points while its defense is ranked No. 4 in the nation.

Erica Geremia leads the Dragons as she has scored 42 goals and has dished out 57 assists for a team-high 99 points on her way to SUNYAC Player of the Year honors. She also has 23 ground balls and 10 caused turnovers while becoming the first sophomore in school history to reach the career 200-point mark. She ranks 10th nationally this spring in assists and 12th in points.

Jessica Lavelle is Cortland's top defender with 39 caused turnovers and 32 ground balls in 19 games while goal keeper Liz Ingalls has started all 19 games between the pipes for Cortland this spring. Her 5.87 goals against average ranks fourth nationally in Div. III and her .520 save percentage is 13th-best in the country.  The duo earned all-conference first team and second team honors respectively.

Scouting the Raiders

Mount Union has lost two one-goal games this season while racking up 15 victories. The Raiders are sixth in the nation in scoring offense (17.07) and scoring defense (6.06).

On the season, sophomore Katherine Doraty (Medina/Medina) leads the Raiders and the OAC in scoring with 91 points. She has a team-best 60 goals and 31 assists as she earned OAC Offensive Player of the Year honors. 

Sophomore midfielder Taylor Pensyl (Kent/Kent Roosevelt) joined Doraty on the All-OAC First Team.  Pensyl is among conference leaders with a team-best 57 draw controls. She is third on the team with 39 goals and scored 47 points along with 23 caused turnovers.

On defense, Kolbie Haines (Hudson/Hudson) is an All-OAC First Team selection that has a team-high 41 ground balls and 28 caused turnovers.  Sophomore Casey McHenry (Hudson/Hudson) has started 17 games this season with 14 wins and she is seventh in the nation with a 6.58 goals against average.

Coaches

Emily Fisher (Wooster '08) is 29-3 in two seasons as head coach of the Purple Raiders.  Her team finished her first season in 2013 with a 13-game win streak while in 2014 the Raiders won both inaugural OAC regular season and tournament titles.  Her 2014 team made the NCAA Tournament then hosted and won a first round game.  Fisher also played in the NCAA Tournament as a junior at The College of Wooster, her team won the North Coast Athletic Conference title and she was a member of the all-tournament team.

Kathy Taylor (Cornell '84) is 112-16 in her sixth season as head coach at Cortland.  She won her second SUNYAC Coach of the Year award in 2014 leading the Dragons to a national No. 1 ranking, an undefeated regular season and SUNYAC regular season and tournament titles. Her teams have won six conference titles and advanced to the national semifinals each of the last three seasons.  Prior to her arrival at Cortland, Taylor was a highly successful girls' lacrosse coach at Fayetteville-Manlius (N.Y.) High School from 1988 to 2006. During that stretch, her teams posted an overall record of 245-62-3 (.795), won two New York State titles (Div. I in 2004 and Class A in 2005) and five Section III crowns.

Mount Union Women's Lacrosse Timeline

It has been quite a 36-month run for the Purple Raider women's lacrosse program. Here are some key events

May 9, 2011 - Mount Union announces plans to add men's and women's varsity lacrosse

June 15, 2011 - Emily Fisher named Mount Union head women's lacrosse coach

March 2, 2013 - First game in Mount Union history - an 8-7 home loss to Oberlin

March 5, 2013 - First win in Mount Union history - a 17-9 win at Thiel

April 27, 2013 - Finish first season on a 13-game win streak with a 22-2 win over Hilbert

March 2, 2014 - First overtime game - a 17-16 loss at Marymount (Va.) in season opener

March 27, 2014 - First double overtime game - a 14-13 win against Wittenberg

April 12, 2014 - First OAC game - a 14-4 win against Capital

April 23, 2014 - A 14-13 loss at Baldwin Wallace stops a 12-game win streak

April 26, 2014 - Mount Union clinches share of inaugural OAC regular season with 17-5 win over Otterbein

May 3, 2014 - Mount Union wins first-ever OAC Tournament title with 15-6 win over Capital

May 4, 2014 - Mount Union selected to NCAA Tournament for first time in school history

May 7, 2014 - Mount Union hosts and wins NCAA First Round game 16-5 over Keuka (N.Y.).

Up Next ...

The winner of this game plays the winner of a second round game between Redlands (Calif.) and Pomona-Pitzer (Calif.) in a four-team regional next weekend at a site to be determined.

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