PEPPER THE NET

Gettysburg College junior Courtney Patterson shoots during a women’s lacrosse game earlier this season. The Bullets begin their bid for a third-straight NCAA Division III championship on Sunday when they host either Westminster (Pa.) College or Notre Dame University of Maryland.

Top-ranked and two-time defending national champion Gettysburg College begins its bid for a three-peat by hosting a pair of first-time national postseason participants in the first and second rounds of the NCAA Division III Women’s Lacrosse Championship this weekend at Clark Field.

MATCHUPS

Westminster (Pa.) College (14-2) meets Notre Dame of Maryland University (11-5) in the first round at 1 p.m. on Saturday. The winner will face Gettysburg (17-1) Sunday at 1.

TICKETS

Tickets will be sold at the front gate to Clark Field. Cost for entry is $6 for adults; $3 for students ages 13-18 and students from participating institutions; and $2 for children 3-12. Children ages two and under are admitted free of charge.

THE BRACKET

This year’s field is made up of 42 teams, including 31 automatic qualifiers. Among those schools includes six that have won national championships (TCNJ, Middlebury, Gettysburg, Salisbury, Franklin & Marshall, Amherst) and six newcomers (Notre Dame, Westminster, Misericordia, Lebanon Valley, SUNY Canton, George Fox).

THE SERIES

Gettysburg has not faced either of its two potential opponents this weekend.

NCAA HISTORY

Notre Dame and Westminster make their national playoff debuts this weekend and have the unenviable task of taking on the two-time defending champ in Gettysburg. The Bullets have won their last 10 NCAA contests, beating top-ranked TCNJ 6-5 in the 2017 title game and taking down No. 4 Middlebury 11-9 last season. Gettysburg is making its 19th appearance on the national stage in the last 20 seasons. The team is 35-15 in the tournament and has advanced to the semifinals seven times.

GETTYSBURG OVERVIEW

Gettysburg avenged its only regular-season defeat with a 16-6 victory over No. 4 Franklin & Marshall in the finals of the Centennial Conference Championship. The win marked the Bullets’ league record 12th title. Nine of the team’s wins have come against top-20 foes including the current No. 2 (Washington and Lee), No. 5 (F&M), and No. 6 (York) teams in the country. Gettysburg reclaimed its spot atop the Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Association Division III Coaches’ Poll this week, marking the program’s eighth nod as the nation’s top team this spring.

Gettysburg’s well-balanced offense features seven players that have tossed in 20 or more goals. Junior Liza Barr was named the CC Attacker of the Year after becoming the first Bullet with 100 points in a season in 15 years. Barr has put up 45 goals and 57 assists for 102 points. Sophomore Kerry McKeever has dashed her way to 55 goals, 25 assists, and 80 points, leading the team in goals and ranking second in both assists and points. Sophomore Bri Stokes has busted loose for at least three goals in seven of the last eight games, including a career-high seven against Haverford.

Junior Courtney Patterson was named the CC Midfielder of the Year. She leads the team with 92 draw controls and has recorded 35 goals and 24 ground balls. 2018 IWLCA Division III Player of the Year Steph Colson was limited by injury for much of the month of April, but she’s returned to form just in time for the postseason play. The two-time NCAA Championship MVP has tallied a team-best 19 caused turnovers to go along with 20 goals, 16 assists, 26 ground balls, and 45 draw controls.

Junior Claire Macatee and senior Bailey Pilder form the backbone of the Gettysburg defense. Macatee was named first-team All-CC and has accounted for a team-best 31 ground balls, 17 caused turnovers, and 38 draw controls. Pilder, the national leader in save percentage in 2018, has posted a GAA of 8.10 and save percentage of .525 on the way to being named second-team all-conference.

Head coach Carol Cantele ’83 had guided Gettysburg to all of its Centennial and NCAA titles. A four-time IWLCA Coach of the Year, Cantele ranks third among all NCAA coaches in career wins with 440 over 31 years. In 27 years leading the Bullets, she has posted a record of 417-108 (.794). As a student-athlete at Gettysburg, she helped lead the field hockey team to the institution’s first national title in 1980.

NOTRE DAME OVERVIEW

Notre Dame picked up its first national berth after winning the Colonial States Athletic Conference. The Gators survived Bryn Athyn 9-8 in overtime in the semifinals before taking down top-seeded Keystone 19-8 in the championship. The team has won seven of its last eight games this spring.

Senior Megan Morales was named the program’s first CSAC Player of the Year. In the championship game against keystone, Morales lit the lamp nine times and picked up 13 draw controls. She has scored 106 goals this season and ranks second in the NCAA with 6.63 goals per game. Morales has also put up 61 ground balls, 35 caused turnovers, and 117 draw controls. Senior Kirstin McGee ranks second to Morales in goals (53), points (92), ground balls (42), and draw controls (87), while leading the team with 39 assists. Freshman Julie Hagis was named CSAC Rookie of the Year and joined Morales and McGee on the all-conference first team. Sophomore Marie Salas has started the majority of games in goal and has posted a 6.75 GAA and .625 save percentage.

Kaci Starkloff is in her second season as Notre Dame’s head coach. Starkloff was an assistant for two years before rising to the head position in 2018. The Gators won seven more games in her second year at the helm.

WESTMINSTER OVERVIEW

Westminster makes its NCAA debut after claiming the inaugural title in the Presidents’ Athletic Conference. The Titans downed Saint Vincent 18-8 in the semifinals before racing by Washington & Jefferson 15-5 in the finals. Westminster has won its last 10 contests heading into this weekend.

The Titans rank among the top 20 teams in the nation in scoring offense at 16.7 goals per game. The team has hit for 20 or more goals in six games, including 26 against Thiel. Junior Margo Mason ranks sixth in Division III with 7.5 points per game. Mason has recorded 113 points on 86 goals and 27 assists along with 84 ground balls, 40 caused turnovers, and 90 draw controls. The junior posted 13 goals and four assists in a regular-season victory over St. Vincent. She was named the PAC Offensive Player of the Year and the league’s Newcomer of the Year. Junior Bria Braddock was named the PAC Defensive Player of the Year. Braddock leads the team with 91 draw controls and 96 ground balls and ranks second in goals (61) and points (82). Senior Emily D’Amico is the third head of the attack with 52 goals and 13 assists. Freshman Emma Bradley has started all 16 games in goal for Westminster. Bradley has posted an 8.73 GAA to go along with a save percentage of .433.

Kim Eldridge was named the PAC Coach of the Year after guiding Westminster to its first conference title in only its third year as a varsity program. The Titans have increased their win totals in each of Eldridge’s three years at the helm, going from 1-9 in its inaugural campaign to 14-2 this past season.

LOOKING AHEAD

Following the opening two rounds, the NCAA Championship moves into the regional round with sites hosting games on May 18-19. Gettysburg is the top seed in its bracket and would host regionals for the third consecutive season if it wins its second round game Sunday.

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