Patience pays off for Loyola women

After disallowed goal, they regain composure to top No. 6 Penn State, 9-8

Lacrosse

April 11, 1999|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,SUN STAFF

The Loyola women's lacrosse team had every opportunity to fold during yesterday's game against No. 6 Penn State, but the young No. 9 Greyhounds would not give in.

Even after the Greyhounds lost a goal because of an illegal stick at a critical point in the second half, they held off the Nittany Lions, 9-8, at Curley Field for their first victory this season over a Top 10 team.

Early in the second half, the Greyounds (7-2) ran their lead to 6-3 on Maria DiTommaso's free-position goal. After the Nittany Lions (7-4) rallied to cut the deficit to 6-5, Megan Santacroce broke across in front of the goal and scored, but the goal was disallowed when Santacroce's stick was deemed illegal.

That gave Penn State new momentum, and Jennifer Webb needed only 15 seconds to run nearly two-thirds of the field and tie the game at 6 with 16: 23 left.

"When that goal got taken away," said Loyola coach Diane Aikens, "and Penn State got the wind in their sails and got that couple goals, I think a lot of experienced and inexperienced teams could have crumbled very easily at that point. That's what I'm proud of my kids for. Even if we had lost this game, they would have hung in there until the very last minute."

Aikens, who starts six underclassmen, called a timeout after Webb's goal and the break helped stop the Lions' momentum.

"She said she felt she got us to this point physically," said junior midfielder Chelsea Morley, "and it was our turn to prove to her that we were mentally tough enough. I certainly think we did that."

After the timeout, Kathleen O'Shea scored two goals within two minutes to put the Greyhounds on top for good.

On O'Shea's final goal, a defender checked her stick enough to slow the shot but not enough to stop it. The ball floated over Lions goalie Megan Ames and landed softly in the net.

With 8: 51 left, Webb cut the lead to 8-7 on her fourth goal. Less than three minutes later, Suzanne Eyler found a hole in the Lions' defense and slipped through for her third goal, the game-winner, with 6: 14 to go.

The Lions got one more from Jen Johnson with six minutes left. They had a chance to tie with 3: 40 left, but Greyhounds goalie Tricia Dabrowski made the last of her 14 saves and her teammates stalled away nearly all the remaining time. When the Lions finally forced a turnover, only four seconds remained.

"The most noteworthy thing is that at the end, they were so disciplined," said Lions coach Julie Williams. "They held the ball. They didn't go in to goal even when my goalie came out and that's tempting for a young group. It takes a lot of patience to do that."

Since an opening day 13-6 loss to then-No. 4 North Carolina, the Greyhounds have had no trouble maintaining their poise.

"A lot of people say that we're young and they don't think we're going to show up to play," said Loyola's junior defender Therese Naab. "But we were ready. For us to keep our composure and know that we were still in it and that they were the ones who had the pressure on them, I'm really proud of our team."

In their final regular-season home game, the Greyhounds won their sixth straight since losing a heartbreaker to No. 3 James Madison, 12-11, on March 20. They have also beaten Penn State six straight times.

Penn State 2 6 -- 8

Loyola 4 5 -- 9

Goals: PS--Webb 4, O'Brien 2, Johnson, Kenney; L--O'Shea 3, Eyler 3, Miller 2, DiTommaso. Assists: PS--Kagen, Mechem, Johnson, Tice; L--Miller. Saves: PS--Ames 9; L--Dabrowski 14.

Lacrosse scores

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Pub Date: 4/11/99

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