Sprinters with sticks.
That’s one way of describing this year’s speedy Union College women’s lacrosse team, which is off to the best start in program history.
Ranked eighth in the latest IWLCA national poll, the Dutchwomen are 7-0 overall and 4-0 in the Liberty League. Union is one of only nine remaining unbeaten teams nationally in Division III, and the Dutchwomen are eighth in scoring margin and ninth in scoring defense.
Speed is the team’s calling card. Sophomore midfielder Allie Cuozzo
was second in the 800 meters during the Division III national indoor track championships, while freshman attackers Kristin Joyce and Chelsea Charette, along with senior midfielder Keri Messa and sophomore midfielder Keelin
Skurek, are just as quick.
“This team has the perfect combination of leadership and experience from the veteran players and the kind of toughness, energy and surge of scoring talent from the freshmen. It’s a great combination of players,” said head coach Jessica Critchlow.
Five Dutchwomen have scored 10 or more goals, and two of the three top scorers are freshmen.
“The freshmen we have on this team right now were brought in to do just exactly what they’re
doing,” said Critchlow. “Chelsea is our quarterback. I put the offense in her hands. She reads defenses, and calls which offensive system we’re going to use. She makes everyone around her so much better. She can hit her teammates with a pass in an unbelievable way.”
Charette has 14 goals and nine assists, while Joyce tops the team with 24 goals, and is scoring on 63.2 percent of her shots.
“I call her a shark,” said Critchlow of Joyce. “She knows how to
deceive her defender. She can lose anybody. Her shot is like an accurate rifle. She will put it exactly where she wants to with speed, and she’s pretty tough to stop.”
Messa (15 goals, 22 assists, good for fifth in the country), Allie
Cuozzo (11 goals) and Caitlin
Cuozzo (10) also have at least 10 goals.
“Allie is fast, but we have a couple of kids who are faster than her with a stick in their hand,” said Critchlow. “They say speed kills, and it does. All of our players have excellent speed.”
The Dutchwomen also have an excellent defense, led by sophomore goalkeeper Melissa McDonald, who is sixth in the country in goals-against average (5.67).
Two years ago, Union won its second straight Liberty League title and appeared in its second consecutive NCAA tournament, but the Dutchwomen failed to earn an NCAA berth last season, even though they finished 10-5 and were ranked 12th in the country.
If Union is to get back in the
NCAA tournament this year, beating national powers Hamilton and Middlebury could be key.
“The front end of our schedule was tough, as we played teams like SUNY-Cortland, Williams and
Colby. Then, we played league
opponents for the last couple of weeks. Now, we’re heading back to the part of our schedule that features national games against a pair of
top-10 teams,” said Critchlow. “Our team is ready. I know my team will fight and play hard, leaving nothing on the field. I don’t have any concerns about our younger players.”
WHAT THEY’RE DOING
u SUNY-Cobleskill’s women’s track and field team is ranked No. 1
in the NJCAA Division III national poll, while the Fighting Tigers’ men’s team is ranked second.
u SUNY-Cobleskill freshman pitcher Tom Weiner recorded his first collegiate shutout by defeating Fulton-Montgomery Community College, 6-0. Weiner has a 2-1 record.
u Rexford native Ryan Donovan, a sophomore goalie for the University of Massachusetts-Boston men’s hockey team, was named to the 2008 New England Hockey Writers ECAC East/NESCAC all-star team. Donovan had a 3.46 goals-against average and a .902 save percentage for the Beacons.
u Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake’s A.J. Witkofsky became the first player in Endicott men’s volleyball history to be named the Sports Imports/AVCA national player of the week. Witkofsky had 10 kills, nine digs and six blocks in the first game of a 3-0 win over Mount Ida. He finished with 26 kills in 40 attempts.
u Several Fonda-Fultonville graduates are off to excellent starts on their respective collegiate baseball teams. Matt Mancini is hitting .429 at Hamilton, while Luke Nellis has a 2-3 record and a 2.93 ERA at Le Moyne. Dan Noonan has a 1-0 record at SUNY-Plattsburgh, and Mitch Kierpiec has a 1-0 record for Herkimer County CC.
u Senior guard Steve Dagostino (Guilderland), from The College of Saint Rose, added three more awards to his resume. He was named to the NABC/State Farm Coaches’ All-America team for the second straight year, and was also selected a first-team All-American by both Basketball Times and Division II Bulletin. Dagostino, the Northeast-10 Conference Player of the Year for the second straight season, led the 23-8 Golden Knights in scoring, and also topped the conference in steals and minutes played.
u Skidmore’s golf team, ranked 15th in the country, finished second at the 27-team Yale Spring Open over the weekend. Senior captain Toby Spector was third individually with a two-round total of
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