Jeffs Earn At-Large Bid to NCAA Championship

NCAA action.jpgContact: Ben Badua


AMHERST, Mass. - Following its first NESCAC Final appearance since the 2005 season, the fifth-ranked Amherst College women's lacrosse team earned an at-large bid to the 2014 NCAA Division III Championship and will face Bridgewater State University (14-5) in the second round on Saturday, May 10. Opening draw is set for 1 p.m. on Pratt Field.

LIVE COVERAGE: Live stats and a webcast will be available for Saturday’s second round action.

TICKET INFORMATION: Ticket prices for this weekend’s NCAA tournament have been set at $3 for adults, $2 students and senior citizens, $1 children.

Getting off to the best start in program history, the fifth-ranked Jeffs (16-2) rattled off 14-consecutive victories to open the 2014 campaign. Falling to No. 3 Trinity in its regular season finale (7-4), Amherst secured a pair of NESCAC championship wins over Bowdoin (11-5) and Williams (9-4) before once again falling to the Bantams in the tournament finals.

Stumbling to a slow 2-3 start, Bridgewater State (14-5) reeled off six-straight wins. Suffering consecutive setbacks in the middle of the season, the Bears closed out the year with six more victories, culminating in a 19-7 triumph over Worcester State in the MASCAC title tilt.

A year removed from its last NCAA berth, Amherst is making its 11th tournament appearance. Carrying a 19-9 all-time championship mark into Saturday, the Jeffs downed Keene St. (19-1) before falling to TCNJ (8-7) in its last tourney trip in 2012. Earning its fifth-straight NCAA berth (6th overall), Bridgewater is still in search of its first championship victory, having gone 0-5 in its previous appearances.

Passarelli_NCAA_Action.jpgSCOUTING AMHERST
Averaging 10.56 goals per game, Amherst has relied on a balanced attack that features seven players with at least 20 points. NESCAC first-team selection Rachel Passarelli ’16 leads the pack, entering tournament play ranked fifth in the conference in goals (37) and tied for ninth in points (45). Second-team pick Krista Zsitvay ’14 has also enjoyed a solid season, tying for sixth in the league in goals (35).

Priscilla Tyler ’15 (24 G, 4 A) and Meghan Mills ’15 (22 G, 5 A) give the Jeffs some added punch with 28 and 27 points, respectively. Elizabeth Ludlow ’14 has amassed 14 goals and 10 assists, while Mia Haughton ’16 has collected 12 goals and 12 helpers. Notching 23 goals and seven assists on the offensive end, Alex Philie ’14 has been a strong presence in the midfield, topping the NESCAC charts in caused turnovers (31) while sitting fifth in ground balls (35) and tied for fifth in draw controls (49).

Helping to keep things clear in front of the Purple & White cage is Kerry Fusco ’15, who enters Saturday’s play with 25 ground balls and 19 caused turnovers. Christy Forrest ’16 anchors the team’s defensive efforts, logging 1079:54 minutes in net, while leading the conference in save percentage (54.8) and goals-against average (5.50).

Winning its second-straight MASCAC championship, Bridgewater St. boasts an explosive attack led by conference Player of the Year Taylor Clancy ’14. Leading the league in points (95), Clancy is first in the MASCAC in goals (68) and fifth in assists (27). In the midst of a stellar season, Rookie of the Year Melissa Renauld ’17 sits second in the conference in points (85) and third in goals (64).

A first-team all-league awardee, Lauren Geary ’16 has amassed 45 goals and 13 assists, while second-team honoree Riley Cachelin ’15 is second in the MASCAC in helpers (40 A, 32 G). Shoring up the Bears’ defense is first-team selection Braylen Wenzel ’14, who has 21 ground balls, 11 draw controls and eight caused turnovers to her credit.

Splitting time in net this season have been Allie Forman ’17 and Chandler Ross ’16. Going 8-3, Forman has logged 690:11 minutes in the cage, leading the conference in goals-against average (8.08) with a 42.6 save percentage. Ross has recorded 449:31 minutes in net, sitting second in the league in save percentage (47.2) and GAA (8.80) en route 6-2 overall mark.