Navy's women's lacrosse team struggled at times this season with controlling the draw, but getting that initial possession proved no problem Saturday.
The Midshipmen overwhelmed Quinnipiac on the draws, winning 20 of 27, and used that advantage to ignite a second-half offensive surge as they rolled over the Bobcats, 20-5, in an NCAA Division I play-in game at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis.
Tonight, the Midshipmen (15-4) will learn who their next opponent will be when the bracket for the NCAA tournament is announced. Coach Cindy Timchal — headed to her 23rd tournament, including 16 while at Maryland — said she expects to draw Maryland, Northwestern, North Carolina or Duke. The Mids fell to North Carolina in last year's opener.
In reaching the NCAA tournament for the second straight year, the Mids had a nearly unstoppable duo on the draw, and that gave them a huge advantage in time of possession. Molly Hamilton won nine — all in the second half — and Caitlin Mandrin Hill won seven.
With Navy holding a 7-3 lead at the half, Hamilton, a freshman, won three of the next four draws and helped the Mids score four straight times. After Laura Iannotti scored on a free position for Quinnipiac, the Mids reeled off the next nine goals for a 20-4 lead with 4:31 to go.
Bobcats coach Danie Caro, whose team allowed an average of 10.2 goals this season and not more than 17 in a game, couldn't find an answer to Navy's dominance on the draws.
"They killed us," Caro said. "We tried everything. We had kids who had never taken a draw in their life trying, just to see what we could do."
In last week's Northeast Conference final, the Bobcats set a conference title-game record by allowing only three goals to Mount St. Mary's, but they gave up three in the first 4:27 to Navy.
Kathy Young scored twice in the first three minutes and Navy outshot Quinnipiac, 11-1, in the first nine minutes. But the Midshipmen needed that second-half run to blow the game open.
After Aimee Gennaro gave the Mids a 10-3 lead, Jasmine DePompeo assisted Mandrin Hill for four of the next five goals and then fed Hamilton. With three goals and five assists, DePompeo, the Patriot League Offensive Player of the Year, set a school record for assists in a season with 42.
"This is what you work the whole season for," DePompeo said of advancing to the NCAA tournament. "We made it there last year and it was so exciting, but now I think we're more goal-oriented like, 'OK, let's get past this first round and make a statement.' We're not just here, we actually want to make an impact."