Women's lacrosse looks for third NCAC championship

by Susanna Henighan

Oberlin's women's lacrosse team is looking for a hat trick this weekend. Wins this weekend in the NCAC championship tournament would give the team its third championship in as many years.

The Yeowomen travel to Wittenberg College Saturday to take on Ohio Wesleyan's Battling Bishops in the NCAC semifinals. A win on Saturday would put the team in the finals against the winner of Saturday's game between Denison and Kenyon.

If the second half of the team's season is any indication, the Yeowomen have the skill, patience and drive to win this weekend - but it won't be easy. Saturday's game against Ohio Wesleyan promises to be close; the Bishops defeated the Yeowomen earlier this season 11-10.

Top-seed Denison, Oberlin's rival and closest NCAC competitor for the last several years, will surely make it to the finals on Sunday. They defeated Oberlin in the early season, 18-10.

Head Coach Mindy Manolovich said the early season losses aren't necessarily an indication of Oberlin's ability to compete with these teams. She said that last year the Yeowomen lost to Denison in regular season play 19-9 and ended up beating them in the finals. This year they lost 18-10.

"I hope the people who played on those championship teams will step up," Manolovich said.

The Yeowomen came into Tuesday's NCAC quarterfinal round Tuesday with a 5-2 conference record and 8-6 overall. They beat Allegheney College in the quarterfinals 17-3 to advance to this weekend's tournament.

Tuesday's game gave Oberlin an opportunity to work on playing hard, smart lacrosse for 60 minutes. The Yeowomen controlled the game from the first draw, and even when they were miles ahead, continued to attack patiently and deliberately. Passing was key to the Yeowomen's success; their control let them take the time to set up and execute attacks.

Senior midfielders Kim Allen and Cecily Bean and junior midfielder Maggie McFalls dominated the teams' scoring. Allen netted six goals and assisted on four others.

McFalls and Bean scored four each and senior midfielder Sarann Bielavitz chalked up two points. Senior attackwoman Amy Keith contributed one.

Allegheney was the first to score, less than two minutes into the game. But Oberlin quickly returned the favor, as Bean netted one for the Yeowomen less than a minute after.

Allegheny was able to keep up with Oberlin for just the first quarter of the game. All their scores came before the 16th minute of play, and after the Yeowomen hit their stride during the last three quarters, the Bishops couldn't compete with the Yeowomen's passing and teamwork.

Manolovich said the team was able to achieve their game goals. "One of our objectives was to try to play at a high level for 60 minutes. We didn't want to force turnovers, we really wanted to work the ball and find the right goal-scoring opportunities," she said.

Despite their success Tuesday, Manolovich said the team will have to improve to win this weekend. "We have to have better defense and to be more of a threat offensively," she said.

Tuesday's match was not only the last home engagement for the Yeowomen, but also coach Manolovich's final game on home turf as an Oberlin coach. The coach, who has led the Yeowomen to two NCAC championships in the last two years, is moving to the D.C. area at the end of the season.

"It was sad," Manolovich said. "I'll just take a lot of great memories with me. Hopefully, I have instilled some type of tradition here that will last."

Tuesday's victory came after a weekend when the Yeowomen split two games on the road. They defeated SUNY-Fredonia on Sunday by a whopping 20-5, but lost to Alfred University last Saturday 11-4.

"The Alfred game was probably the worst we played all season," Manolovich said. "We had some good individual talents, but there wasn't enough teamwork as a whole."

The Yeowomen outshot Alfred, but weren't able to put many past their goalie.

"We had some trouble playing on turf. [Alfred] had a lot of heart and played aggressively," Manolovich said.

Manolovich said that against Fredonia, the Yeomwomen played good lacrosse. "We played our game for 60 minutes," she said.

The Yeowomen play Ohio Wesleyan, the second-ranked team in the NCAC, on Saturday at 2:30.

Manolovich said Ohio Wesleyan has three key offensive players. "We are going to try a new defense that they haven't seen," she said.

"They are really aggressive, but they tend to throw the ball around and need to capitalize on that," Manolovich said. "I believe we are a better team. We have more leadership."

Allen agreed. "We have to be on, our catching has to be on," she said. "Our minds have to be in the game. We have to have some strong defense."

Allen said the team has been preparing for Saturday's game. They have been practicing on turf to get ready for the change in surfaces.

A win against Ohio Wesleyan would take them to the finals on Sunday, against the winner of Saturday's semifinal match-up between Denison and Kenyon.

"Denison definitely has better team speed," Manolovich said, adding that Oberlin is younger and less experienced than the Denison squad. "If we play according to a very disciplined game plan, we can win,"

This weekend's tournament is being held at Wittenburg. There is a fan bus leaving at 10:45 a.m. and returning at 8 p.m. Tickets are $2. For more information, contact the Office of Athletics.

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Copyright © 1999, The Oberlin Review.
Volume 127, Number 22, April 30, 1999

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