In storm, Morlang strikes for Loyola

6-goal performance soaks Penn St. women in OT, 9-8

April 09, 2000|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,SUN STAFF

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Before this season, Loyola's women's lacrosse team hadn't had anyone score six goals in a single game in six years. Yesterday, Stacey Morlang did it for the third time in six games -- and the No. 10 Greyhounds needed every one.

Facing a No. 16 Penn State team that must move into the Top 12 to have a chance at an NCAA tournament bid, Morlang scored two goals in overtime to edge the Nittany Lions, 9-8, in a driving rainstorm at Jeffrey Field.

The sophomore from Victoria, Australia, scored the game-winner on a free position with 2: 24 left in overtime. She combined a blistering first step and a low-corner shot to beat Lions goalie Megan Ames, who finished with 14 saves.

Earlier in overtime, Morlang made the shot of the game, whipping a behind-the-back rocket shoulder high to Ames' right and into the net. Hemmed in by two Lions defenders in front of her, Morlang took the only out she could find.

"I didn't really know where to go," Morlang said. "I couldn't see any of my players open, so I thought I'd give it a go. I was pretty lucky."

Morlang's performance has been critical to the Greyhounds' sustaining a six-game winning streak. She has picked up a lot of the slack after the Greyhounds (8-2) lost two veteran scorers earlier in the week -- Megan Santacroce to a torn anterior cruciate ligament and Suzanne Eyler to compartment syndrome in one of her legs.

In three games this week, Morlang scored 12 goals. Her total of 36 for the season is more than double that of anyone else on the team.

"I think Stacey is one of the best players in the country," said Loyola coach Diane Geppi-Aikens. "She's a go-to player and this is the type of game where, when other people weren't doing well, we needed to go to her; and we did and she did great."

Morlang gave the Greyhounds a quick start, scoring on a pass from Danielle Battersby just 43 seconds into the game. Kory Miller then scored as Stephanie Sweet fed her off the draw 13 seconds later.

The Lions (5-6) answered with three straight goals to take their only lead of the game at 3-2 when Julie Tice fed Molly Ford with 17: 38 to go in the half.

But offense would be hard to come by for the rest of the game. The rain that began promptly during the national anthem quickly turned into a downpour that didn't abate until midway through the second half.

Holding onto the ball proved a challenge as the two teams combined for 37 turnovers, most of them on attacks. Each team had costly turnovers late in regulation and in overtime.

With the score at 6-6 in the second half, Morlang picked up a ground ball off a Lions turnover and raced downfield. She fired over the goal, but was fouled and converted the free-position shot for a 7-6 lead with 1: 58 left.

The Greyhounds tried to stall but lost the ball with 20 seconds on the clock. The Lions' Christine Kenney ran with the ground ball and passed ahead to Jenn Webb, who hit Ford for a well-angled shot from the left side to tie score at 7-7 with four seconds remaining.

In overtime, with the rain picking up again, Webb took the first shot one-on-one with Loyola goalie Tricia Dabrowski, who made the save. In another superb outing for the sophomore keeper, Dabrowski finished with 13 saves.

"She just comes out of nowhere with the saves," said Tice, whose two assists yesterday moved her to second place on Penn State's all-time list with 99. "I've got to give her a lot of credit. But we made some bad, maybe sloppy, passes we shouldn't have made and ended up with some turnovers."

One of those Penn State turnovers came late in overtime after Tice sandwiched a goal between Morlang's two, briefly tying the score at 8-8. After Morlang's free-position shot gave the Greyhounds a 9-8 led, they turned the ball over again, but then the Lions did the same on a misconnection on the crease. Dabrowski won the ball behind the goal with about a minute to go and the Greyhounds stalled away the rest of the game.

With two-thirds of the season now over, both teams played yesterday's game as if an NCAA tournament bid were on the line.

"When you don't know what's going to happen the rest of the season, for us -- with losing three starters in one week -- every game matters tremendously," said Geppi-Aikens, who also lost defensive midfielder Marianne Gioffre to a torn ACL.

"I think the weather hindered both teams from playing up to our potentials, but there was a lot of heart and soul out there from both teams. We're lucky to walk away with a `W' here."

Loyola 4 3 2 -- 9

Penn State 3 4 1 -- 8

Goals: L--Morlang 6, Miller, Testrake, Peck; PS--Ford 2, Kenney 2, Tice 2, Webb, Lucey. Assists: L--Battersby, Sweet; PS--Tice 2, Webb 2, O'Hara. Saves: L--Dabrowski 13; PS--Ames 14.

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