Green to host NCAA game against Loyola
For the Dartmouth women's lacrosse team, the time is now.
If you have been under a rock for the past three months, the Big Green finished the season ranked fourth in the Brine/IWLCA poll with a regular season record of 12-2 and earned a spot in the NCAA tournament.
Wins over tourney-bound Princeton and Duke, as well as a last-second loss to second-seeded North Carolina, earned Dartmouth the recognition it needed to garner the fourth seed in the tournament and the first-round bye and second-round home-field advantage that came with it.
With only twelve teams in the NCAA Championships, the fifth-seeded Greyhounds of Loyola (Md.), who were squeaked out by the Big Green for the final bye, were forced to play the Division II qualifier, West Chester, in the opening round on Wednesday for the right to play Dartmouth in Hanover on Saturday in the quarterfinals.
West Chester was the first Division II school ever to compete in the tournament and hung with the national power for the first 20 minutes of play, losing just 3-1. But, the Greyhounds scored three goals in the span of a minute late in the first half to capture a 6-1 intermission lead.
The Greyhounds cruised from that point forward never leading by less than four goals and ultimately winning 18-7. Pacing the Greyhounds were Kathleen O'Shea who recorded a career-high four tallies and Krystin Porcella and Erin Wylde who each had hat tricks on the afternoon.
Needless to say, the Big Green were not surprised by the result on Wednesday. Nonetheless, the two teams are very evenly matched and enter with impressive resumes.
In addition to the Tigers and Blue Devils, the Big Green also have victories over the rest of the Ivy League and Penn State to complete their 12-2 record. The Big Green's only losses came to the Tar Heels and the third-seeded Terrapins of Maryland.
The Greyhounds enter the contest with a 12-3 and a perfect 6-0 record in the Colonial Athletic Association. Their victories include Penn State, James Madison and Richmond.
When the Greyhounds lose, they do it to good teams. Very good teams. Their only losses come at the hands of the top three teams in the tournament, the top-seeded Virginia Cavaliers, the Tar Heels and the Terrapins. Surprisingly, they took Virginia the closest to the brink, succumbing 8-6. Their six-goal loss to North Carolina is a divergent point for the two squads.
A year ago, the Greyhounds lost to Maryland in the NCAA Championship by a score of 8-7, so they would like nothing better than to attempt to set up a potential rematch in the finals.
The two teams have four common opponents and they have identical records, 2-2, against them.
Physically, both teams are exceedingly quick and so a fast-paced game should be expected on Saturday.
Despite the Greyhounds' strong season, Dartmouth is considered a slight favorite and the Big Green are optimistic about the Saturday matinee. Leading scorer Jacque Weitzel '00 wants to win the game badly and realizes that this contest could also be a stepping stone.
"Our team is young, so I don't feel like this is our one and only year to be great," Weitzel said. "But, I think winning tomorrow will help Dartmouth lacrosse get the recognition nationally that it deserves and will help us a great deal come next season as well when we face these traditional powerhouses like Loyola in the future."
Amidst all of the team honors that Dartmouth has garnered, several individuals were also lauded this week, earning spots on the all-Ivy team.
Weitzel, the League's top goal-scorer and defensive standouts Kate Graw '00 and Melissa Frazier '00 were named to the first team while Jen Greene '98 was awarded second-team honors. It seems hard to fathom that the national leader in assists per game, Greene, would not collect a first-team selection from the league's eight head coaches. Weitzel and Greene, both of whom could have been considered candidates for Player of the Year lost out to Princeton junior Cristi Samaras.
Emily Fenwick '00, Juila Morrill '98 and Amy Zimmer '00 earned honorable mention.
For now, though, the Big Green are focusing on their team goal of winning the quarterfinal matchup for a date with the winner of the Princeton-Virginia quarterfinal next Friday at the Final Four in Maryland.
"We have worked extremely hard to get to the point we are at now and making it to the Final Four would be thrilling for us. I think it would also mean a lot to the program because it would show that non-scholarship schools can compete at the top level if they have heart, passion and dedication," Greene said.