UMBC women run table in NEC with 15-5 win

Retrievers 9-0 in league

NCAA berth is reward for title win over Monmouth

College Lacrosse

April 29, 2002|By Tommy Ventre | Tommy Ventre,SUN STAFF

If the UMBC women's lacrosse team was feeling any pressure at the start of yesterday's Northeast Conference tournament championship game against Monmouth, it didn't show.

The Retrievers scored the game's first four goals and never looked back, pounding the Hawks, 15-5, at UMBC Stadium to win their fourth conference championship in the past five years and earn their first trip to the NCAA tournament.

The win marked the realization of a year-long mission for the Retrievers (12-4), who lost to Monmouth in last season's title game and had to sit and watch as the Hawks played in the NCAAs.

UMBC hasn't lost a conference game since, and yesterday Monmouth (9-9) felt the full force of a team hungry for the championship that slipped through its grasp a year earlier.

"This is what we worked all season for," UMBC coach Monica Yeakel said. "From that loss last year, this is where we wanted to be."

Led by strong efforts from the conference's Player of the Year, Jamie Gerhart (four goals, one assist), tournament Most Valuable Player Jen Dragoni (four goals, one assist) and Loree Miller (three goals, two assists), the Retrievers dominated from the outset.

Dragoni scored twice during UMBC's opening 4-0 run, including a goal at the 13:01 mark that prompted Monmouth coach Sue Cowperthwait to call a timeout.

The Hawks got on the board with a goal by Jennifer Versaggi less than two minutes later, but the hosts ran the score to 7-1 on goals by Miller, Stephanie Allen and Dragoni before Monmouth could adjust.

While everything was working for the Retrievers, very little was going right for the Hawks. Midfielder Steph LaGrossa, who torched Wagner for seven goals in Monmouth's semifinal win Friday, struggled all afternoon against a UMBC defense that was quick to double- and triple-team her.

"They were just doubling, tripling and playing real good straight-up defense all over," said LaGrossa, who finished with two goals on four shots.

"As a team, we were just fumbling the ball and that's why we came up short, I think. We just weren't getting it done how we know we can."

The Retrievers, who have won 11 straight, went 9-0 against NEC teams this season. Their 12 wins match the program record set in 1984 and tied in 1999.

"We just come out day in and day out and always give 100 percent," Dragoni said. "We just focus on the next thing that we have to do, and today it was this game."

Next week, it will be a first-round NCAA game. Yeakel said her team's preparations will depend on whom the Retrievers draw. As the NEC's first automatic qualifier last season, Monmouth drew top-seeded Maryland and fell, 23-9.

Said Dragoni, who finished the tournament with eight goals and one assist: "We can only go up."

Monmouth 2 3 - 5

UMBC 11 4 - 15

Goals: M-LaGrossa 2, Versaggi, Reilley, B. Murphy; U-Gerhart 4, Dragoni 4, Miller 3, Gallup 2, Allen, Traber. Assists: M-Levins; U-Miller 2, Traber 2, Allen, Gerhart, Dragoni. Saves: M-Makris 9; U-Stringer 7.

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