Cardinals Knocked Out in NCAA
CUA finishes its best season in program history
SALISBURY, Md. - The #15 Catholic University women's lacrosse team (17-5) gave a valiant effort against the #1 Salisbury University Sea Gulls (22-0) Sunday afternoon but after an exciting first half comeback, CUA just couldn't hold on falling 18-7. The loss eliminated the Cards from the NCAA Tournament and gives them a 2-1 record in the postseason.
Salisbury dominated the first 15 minutes taking a quick 5-0 lead as the Cardinals struggled to regain their legs after the previous day's game. Despite a frantic effort on the defensive end, the Cards couldn't stop the occasional score and on offense CUA was getting few opportunities to shoot. With things looking bleak the Cards took the draw at the 15-minute mark and things turned around.
Kate Robinson (Emmitsburg, Md./Catoctin) scored the first two just 12-seconds apart as the entire CUA bench and crowd erupted. Less than two minutes later, Meg Sabo (Bell Canyon, Calif./Louisville) added another to make it 5-3 and energize both squads. Salisbury stopped the run at 13:02 but the Cards came right back as Kate Narzikul (Philadelphia, Pa./Merion Mercy Academy) hit an unassisted tally. This was followed by one from Salisbury but the Cards weren't done yet when Caroline Taltavull (Gaithersburg, Md./Gaithersburg) pulled CUA back within two at 3:34. Unfortunately, the Cardinals were unable to hold on allowed a Sea Gull score with fourteen second left and even a free position attempt with a second left wouldn't help as CUA went into the break down 8-5.
While the offense came alive midway through, it was goalkeeper Melissa Brashear (Pittsburgh, Pa./Oakland Catholic) who made the difference in the first half stopping nine shots with some impressive acrobatics throughout the first.
After expending a tremendous amount of energy fighting back in the first, the Cards seemed spent in the second. Salisbury came out and staged a 7-0 run spanning the first 12 minutes of the half and going up by as much as ten starting the running clock. Robinson finally put one in for the Cards at 16:52 with a spin move in the crease but the interruption was only temporary as Salisbury continued with three more goals. With three minutes remaining and things looking bleak, Katie Buonpastore (Lansdale, Pa./Lansdale Catholic) made it 18-7 which would be the final as time ran out for the Cards.
Brashear continued her solid outing with 13 saves in the game as CUA was out shot 37-22. The Cards picked up just 14 ground balls while the Sea Gulls notched 27 but CUA did hold a 17-10 advantage in draw controls.
Despite the loss the Cardinals ended the season as one of the top teams in the nation.
"This year has been so much fun, it's been an awesome experience," said Head Coach Meghan O'Connor McDonogh. "We got better every game and showed a will to win. The seniors really stepped it up making it a really fun season."
The Cardinals finish the season at 17-5 with the best year in program history. The Cards had a program-best 17 wins and ran a 13-game win streak including a 5-0 record in the Landmark Conference. CUA won the Landmark and received a bid to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history. In the tournament they won two games. Individually, CUA had a number of all-conference performers, the Landmark Player of the Year in Robinson and the coaching staff earned Landmark Staff of the Year. The Cards will lose five seniors to graduation but return four of their top five scorers.