CHAMPS

BACK ON TOP — Gettysburg College women’s lacrosse seniors (from left) Emma Hill, Shelby Fragetta, Bailey Pilder, Brooke Holechek, Steph Colson, Katrina Niedziela and Lauren Cole hold the Centennial Conference trophy for the third time in four seasons following the team’s 16-6 win Franklin & Marshall on Sunday. The win produced Gettysburg’s 12th conference title.

Franklin & Marshall College may have caught Gettysburg College in its regular-season meeting, but for the second consecutive season the second-ranked Bullets ran away from the fourth-ranked Diplomats in the finals of the Centennial Conference Women’s Lacrosse Championship, posting a 16-6 victory to earn its record 12th league crown Sunday afternoon.

A consistent rain in the second half did little to slow Gettysburg (17-1), which out-scored Franklin & Marshall (15-4) 8-3 in both periods and posted the highest goal total in the 19-year history CC Championship finale. With the win, the Bullets will head to the NCAA Division III Championship for the 18th consecutive season and the 19th time in the last 20 campaigns. Gettysburg has won each of the last two national championships.

Sophomore Kerry McKeever was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player after posting four goals, two assists, three draw controls, and a caused turnover in the championship game. Sophomore Bri Stokes posted three goals and two assists, while junior Ella Orzechowski tallied three goals and an assist. Junior Liza Barr picked up a goal and three assists and became the first Gettysburg player with 100 points in a season in 15 years.

Senior goalie Bailey Pilder anchored a sterling defensive effort by the Bullets with a game-high 11 saves. Senior Steph Colson logged three ground balls and a caused turnover and junior Claire Macatee finished with two ground balls, two caused turnovers and six draw controls.

Ally Marino led Frankllin & Marshall with three goals and three draw controls. Grace Norley finished with two goals and an assist, while Tabitha Rodriguez posted three ground balls and two caused turnovers. Goalie Emily Kitchin recorded eight saves.

Sunday’s championship finale was a far cry from the regular-season contest which ended in a 9-6 decision in favor of the Diplomats. Pilder set the defensive tone by smothering a low bouncing shot by Madde Hughes and Gettysburg came back on the other end with Barr cutting to the cage and catching a pass from Stokes for the first goal.

Kitchin did her part with a pair of saves to keep Gettysburg off the board, but the drought only lasted four minutes as senior Lauren Cole backed down the defense for a goal with 23:05 left in the first half. Another tally by Orzechowski following a feed from Barr, marking the latter’s 100th career point, made it 3-0.

Marino was the only Diplomat to find a way past Pilder in the first 27 minutes of the first half. She scored with 19:24 left in the period, but Orzechowski came right back with a free-position tally 23 seconds later. Goals by Cole and Stokes made it a 6-1 lead with 10 minutes to go in the first half.

Franklin & Marshall tallied two of the next three goals to pull to 7-3 with 2:39 remaining. Following a save by Kitchin with 1:26 on the clock, the Bullets halted the Diplomats next drive by forcing a turnover and came back the other way, finishing off the period with a goal by Stokes for an 8-3 advantage.

The rain picked up in the second half, but there was no letdown from Gettysburg. McKeever kicked things off with a goal at 28:15 and Patterson added another tally a few minutes later to make it 10-3. The Diplomats found no quarter against the Bullets’ defense as Pilder came up with a pair of stops and both Macatee and McKeever caused turnovers over the next eight minutes. Another score by McKeever off a Barr pass pushed the lead to 11-3.

Franklin & Marshall would get no closer than seven in the second half with the last instance coming at 12-5 following a free-position goal by Norley with 16:24 to play. The Bullets erupted for a final four-goal run with McKeever closing things out with a dash to the cage to make it 16-5 with 1:19 left in the game.

Gettysburg finished with the lead in shots (27-23) and ground balls (11-6). The two teams split the 22 draw controls.

Cole and junior Maria Nemeth each posted a pair of goals for the Bullets, while senior Brooke Holechek and junior Daphne Budd each scooped two ground balls.

The announcement of the field for the NCAA Division III Championship will take place tonight at 9:30 a.m. Follow along with the live selection show at https://www.ncaa.com/sports/lacrosse-women/d3.

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