Salisbury rides its balance to No. 4 ranking

Women's notebook

April 14, 2004|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,SUN STAFF

Trying to pinpoint a star behind Salisbury University's drive to a No. 4 national ranking in Division III women's lacrosse and the top spot in the Capital Athletic Conference would be impossible. Coach Jim Nestor just has too much balance.

Lynsey Bateman (Severna Park) leads the Sea Gulls in scoring with 40 points, but seven others are just about as likely to put the ball in the net. Defensively, any one of seven players could make the big play.

"We're pretty balanced all over right now," said Nestor. "We've been playing good seven-on-seven defense, and we have a lot of depth. We use that depth to stay fresh throughout the game."

Perhaps the best indicator of the Sea Gulls' strength came in a 7-5 loss to No. 1 Middlebury, which has won four of the past seven Division III national titles. On March 23, the Gulls trailed 5-0 but rallied before falling.

"We settled down a little bit and started balancing things out on draw control and the defense stepped up," said Nestor. "After coming out of that, the girls know they can play with them, and hopefully will get to see them again."

The Sea Gulls' attack also relies on Linda Ackermann (Liberty), Jessica White (Annapolis), Amber Stansbury (Edgewood), Erin McCarthy, Sarah Slafkosky (Catonsville) and Liz Funk (Hereford). All have at least 15 points.

Line defenders Kelly Murphy, Regan Miller (Atholton) and Sarah Davis (Broadneck), along with midfield defenders Mary Bateman (Hereford) and Jessica Froats, have allowed only one team to score in double figures, while giving up just 5.9 goals per game. Goalie Ali Goetz (Fallston) has a .586 save percentage.

The Sea Gulls (9-2) are unbeaten in the conference and play host to the CAC tournament beginning Sunday.

Irish on a roll

Look west to find the only unbeaten Division I team other than two-time defending national champ Princeton.

At 10-0, Notre Dame rose to No. 2 in the Intercollegiate Women's Lacrosse Coaches Association poll this week.

The Irish, who face a Big East showdown at No. 5 Georgetown at 1 p.m. Saturday, started the season at No. 17 after finishing last year a disappointing 8-7.

Tracy Coyne, the only coach in the program's eight years, said her team lacked unity last season. That has changed.

"The key has been our seniors," said Coyne. "They've never been involved in the program when we haven't been ranked. In other years, we had kids coming in with the dream of accomplishing something. After all the struggles we had last year, this senior class came to me in May and said they wanted to lead the team in a positive direction."

Seniors are the team's top scorers: Meredith Simon (33 goals, 14 assists) and Abby Owen (25, 7).

Junior goalie Carol Dixon has also been a key, saving a career-high 14 shots in Saturday's 14-6 win at Ohio State.

The Irish have strong underclassmen, including Kerry Van Shura, a sophomore from John Carroll who has started the last couple of games. St. Mary's grads Jess Mikula and Kristen Gaudreau also start on defense.

Coppedge honored again

Maryland's Kelly Coppedge was named Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Week for the third time this season after two six-goal performances.

As the Terps beat No. 2 Georgetown, 13-8, and No. 9 Johns Hopkins, 14-11, Coppedge - last season's ACC Player of the Year and the National Midfielder of the Year - boosted her career goals to 201. She's only the second Terp to reach 200 and only the 22nd Division I women's player. She is second to Jen Adams (267) on the Terps' career goal-scoring list.

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