Cardinals continued to soar in 2011

WASHINGTON – The IWLCA recently released its final poll for the 2011 season and CUA checked in at No. 10 following a 15-4 season that saw the Cardinals win their fourth straight Landmark Conference championship and win an NCAA Tournament game for the fourth consecutive season.

CUA climbed to as high as eighth in the national poll this season. It came during the midst of a seven-game win streak for the Cardinals, which included a pair of victories in the Landmark Conference Tournament in addition to an 18-10 win over Mary Washington in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Head Coach Meghan McDonogh, who along with her staff were named the 2011 Landmark Conference Coaching Staff of the Year, led CUA to a 19-2 victory over Randolph-Macon in the season opener on March 1.  It was a sign of things to come as CUA relied on a balanced offense and tough defense all season.

After suffering its first loss of the season to the nation’s number-one ranked team, Salisbury, on March 6, CUA bounced back with four straight wins, including an impressive victory over No. 11 Washington & Lee on March 19 at home.  The Cardinals came away with a 15-13 win that day, bolstered by four goals from Kate Robinson.

Sitting at 5-1 overall CUA welcomed nationally ranked Middlebury to the nation’s capital on March 31 for a highly anticipated showdown featuring two of the strongest programs in the country.  A back-and-forth contest ensued and the game was not decided until the closing minutes when Middlebury escaped with a 13-12 win. 

Undaunted, CUA went out and won its next three games, including a pair of Landmark Conference victories to up its record to 8-2 in mid-April.

After another tough loss to yet another nationally ranked opponent, this time it was vs. eventual national champion Gettysburg, the Cardinals caught fire towards the end of the month and reeled off four straight wins to close out the regular season.

Wins of 16-3 over Susquehanna, 15-9 vs. McDaniel, 18-14 in overtime against Rowan and a 17-8 win over Scranton gave CUA its third unbeaten conference season in the last four years.  

Next up for the Cardinals was a date with nearby Goucher in the conference tournament semifinals.  CUA had little trouble with the Gophers, downing them 19-9 with four goals apiece from Robinson, Mary Swarthout and Meghan Brady and that earned the Cardinals a spot in the conference championship game against Drew.

On a warm, sunny afternoon inside Cardinal Stadium, CUA hosted the Drew Rangers with the conference title on the line.  The Rangers gave CUA all it could handle in the early going, opening up a 5-3 lead with under 10 minutes to play in the first half, but the Cardinals battled back and eventually tied the game at six when Katie Buonpastore scored off a terrific pass from Robinson just before the halftime horn sounded.

The Cardinals then opened up a comfortable lead in the second half and held on for a 12-11 victory and their fourth straight Landmark championship.  CUA has never lost a Landmark Conference Tournament game and has been beaten just once by a conference foe during the regular season.

Riding high, the Cardinals entered the NCAA Tournament with high expectations.  Their first opponent was Mary Washington and CUA hosted the game.

Behind a six-goal effort by Swarthout CUA downed the Eagles 18-10, earning an NCAA Tournament win for the fourth consecutive year.  Next up for the Cardinals was a date with the nation’s number-one ranked team at the time, The College of New Jersey.  The game took place in Lancaster, Pennsylvania on the campus of Franklin & Marshall College.

The Lions jumped on top quickly, opening up a 7-1 lead after one half of play, but CUA refused to go away quietly.  The Cardinals were relentless on defense in the second half, forcing TCNJ into a number of turnovers that were converted into goals, and with just under 18 minutes to play CUA had crawled within three, 11-8.  The Lions eventually outlasted the Cardinals 15-9, but not before CUA showed that it can hang with any team in the nation.

With so much team success there is bound to be plenty of individual accolades and that was certainly the case for CUA this year.  Eight Cardinals received All-Conference recognition, led by Swarthout who was named the Player of the Year for a second straight season. 

Four Cardinals received All-Region accolades, including First Team honorees Swarthout, Robinson and Becky Borrell.  That trio was then joined by five of their teammates, including Lindsay Davenport, Buonpastore, Gabby Sena, Meghan Murray and Megan Gormley on the 2011 USACOLLEGELACROSSE.com All-America Team.  It was one of three outlets that named at least one Cardinal an All-American.  Swarthout led the way with three first team selections.

Following yet another championship season, CUA has already begun to look towards next season.  Despite losing a terrific senior class, led by the program's most decorated player ever in Robinson, the Cardinals are positioned for even greater things down the road.

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