Until this weekend, the previous record for assists in an NCAA Division 3 women’s lacrosse tournament match was nine.
Gettysburg College junior Liza Barr not only broke the record, she obliterated it when she handed out 13 helpers to propel the top-ranked Bullets to a 24-1 domination of Westminster College on Sunday afternoon at Clark Field in Gettysburg.
“It’s a testament to my teammates. The draw control unit was great at getting us possession of the ball and the girls were finishing the passes that I was making to them,” Barr said. “My name is next to the record, but this is a team record and I couldn’t have done it without my teammates.”
The Bullets hope that this is the start of a third straight run to a national championship.
“We wanted to play our brand of ball,” Gettysburg head coach Carol Cantele said. “Just focus on us and play the way that we’re capable of.”
Added Barr: “We played our game at both ends of the field and that’s what we have to do moving forward.”
In only its third year as a program, Westminster advanced to the NCAA tournament for the first time. The Bullets started quickly and never allowed the Titans to gain any confidence that they might pull off the monumental upset.
Less than a minute into the match, Lauren Cole found the back of the net off an assist from Bri Stokes. Then Barr handed out the first of her assists to Steph Colson at the 28:41 mark of the first half.
Westminster (15-3) scored its only goal of the match when Michaela Hays pushed through an unassisted netter with 27:11 to play in the half.
It took the Bullets just under 11 minutes from the start to take a 10-goal advantage, enacting the running clock rule. They got there on Barr’s 47th goal of the year, with 19:33 to play until halftime.
Gettysburg (18-1) carried a 17-1 lead into the break. Barr handed out four more assists after resuming play.
“Liza is very unassuming out there. Then you look at the box score after the game and realize how good of a game she had,” Cantele said. “She draws a lot of attention from our opponents, but she knows the tendencies of her teammates and where they like the ball. She places her passes very well.”
The 23-goal margin is the largest in school history for NCAA tournament play. It bested a 19-1 win over Rhodes College in 2017.
The win was the ninth straight for the Bullets after they fell, 9-6, on the road at Franklin & Marshall on April 20. Gettysburg avenged that defeat with a 16-6 rout of the Diplomats in the Centennial Conference championship match last Sunday.
“We dusted ourselves off after we lost to F&M and got back to marching on our mission,” Cantele said. “We know that we have a target on our back, that we’re going to get everyone’s best effort, but we embrace the challenge.”
Said Barr: “We can’t sit on our accomplishments from the past. We can use it as fuel to try to win another championship, though.”
Sophomore Kerry McKeever led the way in scoring. Her five goals pushed her to 60 for the season and past 100 in her career. Stokes and Kerry Ullman each netted a hat trick.
Barr’s 15 points in the match are a school record. She became the 15th player to top 200 career points. She’s also one assist shy of the season mark for helpers in a campaign. The current record belongs to Julika Blankenship, who posted 71 in 2004.
Next up for the Bullets will be Dennison University. The quarterfinal match will be played at 1 p.m. Saturday at home. Gettysburg took the regular season meeting with the Big Red, 14-4, on March 3.
Follow Tom Sixeas on Twitter at @TomSixeas