May. 1, 2005
With 18 sophomores and freshmen on its 22-member roster, the Siena lacrosse team figures to have many great moments to look forward to. Sunday's MAAC Championship game was not one of them. Manhattan controlled the action from start to finish in a convincing 12-4 victory that spoiled the Saints first MAAC Championship appearance in program history.
"I couldn't be more proud of our team and the season we had," head coach Jake McHerron said. "Experience played a big factor today. Their kids have been through all this before, and I thought they played extremely well."
Manhattan (9-7), which also won the conference championship last season, advances to play the Northeast Conference champion next weekend. Siena finishes its best season in program history with an 11-7 overall mark after sharing the conference's regular-season title with the Jaspers.
"We accomplished things this season that have never been done before at Siena," McHerron added. "Our seniors stepped up and provided guidance for all the young players, and everybody bought into our goals. Everyone on the team played a role in getting us here, and they should all be very proud."
The Jaspers streaked to a 7-0 halftime lead, combining a relentless offense with a stifling defense. Molly Pheterson started the scoring with a one timer off an Erin Warren feed less than one minute into the game. Before Siena could gain possession of the ball for the first time the Jaspers struck again, as Jenny Carmen bounced a free position try between the legs of Siena goalie Bethany Zimmer.
Manhattan used nearly flawless execution to open up a variety of opportunities in front of the cage all afternoon. Victoria Carmen's first of two consecutive goals came following one such sequence, as she finished teammate Mary Dudek's pass to make the score 3-0. Zimmer did her part in the cage, turning back several additional chances, but the Jasper offense could not be stopped.
Dudek again found a cutting Victoria Carmen for a score with 17:25 left and Brenna Tinari got on the board following a series of well timed passes to make the score 5-0. Tinari led all players with three goals.
While the Jasper offense clicked on all cylinders, the Siena offense struggled. The Saints found few scoring opportunities in the first 15 minutes, and when chances did arise, unforced errors prevented conversion. Friday's hero Christina Pampalone was stopped twice in less than 15 seconds at the six minute mark of the first half. Her first shot hit off the right post, and after she regained possession, Manhattan goalie Ashley Devins stopped a point blank opportunity.
Devins was named Tournament Most Valuable Player following the championship. She had 12 saves in the game.
Erin Warren and Jamie Carter closed out the first half scoring for Manhattan. Warren drove into the zone from just inside midfield and beat Zimmer stick side, and Carter took a pass from Victoria Carmen on the right side of the field and fired a shot just inside the right post.
"They really seized the momentum right from the start, and we just didn't respond," McHerron said. "I thought we were really excited, and had a good game plan, but things just didn't go our way."
Unlike Friday, when the Saints out-scored LeMoyne 8-3 after trailing by two goals at the break, there would be no miracle comeback on this day.
Pheterson had her free position shot trickle past Zimmer just moments in to the final stanza to extend the Jaspers lead to 8-0.
Siena finally got on the board three and a half minutes into the second half when Sarah Elliot streaked past defenders in the open field and beat Devins stick side. Lauren Civardi answered for the Jaspers four minutes later on a Dudek assist.
Jenny Carmen extended the lead at the 17:33 mark firing a shot past Zimmer after taking a pass from her sister Victoria.
Amy Schoonmaker scored her first of two goals at the 16-miute mark for Siena to make the score 10-2. The Jaspers fired back with two more goals to eliminate any doubt of the outcome.
Unsurprisingly, the Saints showed great heart and perseverance down the stretch, and didn't look back until the final horn sounded. Siena scored the final two goals of the game with under four minutes remaining. Schoonmaker notched the first score after sprinting past her defender to find an opening at the top of the net.
Sophomore Michelle Eide converted a left hand bounce shot with 3:28 left to account for the final 12-4 score. Eide and Pampalone combined for 15 shots, but Eide's last attempt was the only one that did damage.
"It's very hard to have it end like this," senior captain Katie Cruger said following the game. "But I couldn't be more proud to have been part of this team. We were the best lacrosse team ever at Siena, and I know they are going to do great things in the future."
The 2005 Saints established several team and program records. Most notable, the team more than doubled the program's previous record for victories (5). Friday's semifinal win was also a first, as the Saints had never reached the postseason in the 10-year history of the program.
"It is a very exciting time for Siena lacrosse," McHerron said. "To think we accomplished everything we did with so many underclassmen really says something about the character and commitment of our student athletes. We will set our expectations high from this point forward."
Four Saints were named to the All-MAAC Tournament team. Pampalone, Eide, Schoonmaker and Elliot capped off their seasons by being named to the 12-member squad.