MORRISVILLE, N.Y. – The Morrisville State women's lacrosse team will be making their third straight appearance in the NCAA Division III Championship Tournament Saturday, after being selected to face-off against Johnson & Wales University in the opening round on the Middlebury campus.
Opening draw is scheduled to take place at 1 p.m. in Middlebury, Vermont, in a first ever meeting between the two teams.
Morrisville State enters the contest with a 14-5 overall record, laying claim to their third straight North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) title a week ago with a 14-12 defeat over a physical SUNY Polytechnic squad.
The Mustangs, who average a combined 16.21 goals per game, enter with a potent attacking unit, as six have collected 50 or more points to date on the season.
Senior midfielder Courtney Cavellier (Rodman, N.Y.) and senior attack Celia Abbott (Shortsville, N.Y.) will look to continue to lead the offensive unit as both have combined for 156 points on the year, including 111 total goals. Cavellier leads the Mustangs in scoring with 64 goals, while Abbott has notched 47, and a second team high 30 assists.
Morrisville State has dominated the start in the center circle, winning on average 14.11 draws per game, 146 total coming from the senior NEAC Offensive Player of the Year, Cavellier.
Johnson & Wales will have their hands full though, as junior attack Chelsea McNeal (Ithaca, N.Y.) also enters the contest with a solid attacking game, adding 29 scores and assisting a team high 38.
Freshman Grace Hanehan (Saratoga Springs, N.Y.) has added a 60-point year for the 'Stangs in her inaugural collegiate season, complimenting sophomore Melissa Lucciola's (Monroe, N.Y.) 52 points behind her 42 tallies and 10 assists.
The JWU defensive unit can't count out senior Jillian Hughes (Brookfield, N.Y.) who has earned 50 points on 38 scores behind a 29 ground ball effort within the eight meter.
Defensively, the Mustangs will face a unit that on average has tallied 17.9 goals per game across the 20 game season, but with the backing of juniors Lexi Firkins (Brockport, N.Y.) and Lydia Cooley (Honeoye Falls, N.Y.) with their strong presence in the opponent attacking zone, the Wildcats could have a difficult time reaching goal.
Firkins, the 2019 NEAC Defensive Player of the Year, leads the defensive unit with 51 ground balls, adding 40 caused turnovers, to go along with Cooley's 49 ground ball, 28 caused turnover performance across the year. Factor in Cavellier with her 64 ground ball, 42 caused turnover effort as a midfielder and the Mustangs have a tough trifecta.
Freshman Kadi Bice (Lorraine, N.Y.) has backstopped Morrisville State in net all season, starting all 19 games and collecting a 14-5 record in net, while posting a 49% save effort and a 7.28 goals against average.
She will be tested early, as Johnson & Wales enters the game coming off a nine-game win streak that included a GNAC title to earn the bid to the NCAA's.
Johnson & Wales (16-4) have four main forces to their offensive unit, with a majority of their scoring coming from their midfield unit.
Senior Allison Pazienski leads the way with a total 118 points across the year, netting 97 scores and assisting another 21. Attack Dani Lydecker has also posted a 100+ point season, netting a balanced 60 goals and 43 assists, while controlling the center circle with 123 draw control wins.
Maria Patane and Marley Medina also boast a balanced game in the offensive unit for the Wildcats, combining for 176 points, while adding 88 total ground balls to their totals.
Defensively, the Wildcats have a collected four total losses across the year, separated by a combined total seven goals. They have been backstopped by a sophomore in net for most of the season, with Cassidy O'Hara allowing on average 8.60 goals against behind her 42.5% save percentage in net.
Senior defender Deja Hursey has lended to the Wildcats efforts with her 49 ground ball, 30 caused turnover effort across the year.
The opening draw will take place at 1 p.m. Tickets will be available one hour prior to the start of the contest and will cost $6 per adult, $3 per senior citizen and student, with those 3 and younger admitted free.
Those unable to attend the event will be able to follow the action live with live stats and video links available on the Morrisville State web site at www.morrisvillestateathletics.com.
The winner of the opening round will advance to Sunday's second round action, playing host Middlebury College at 1 p.m.
Morrisville State College's curricula are enriched with applied learning and pave the way for opportunity at both the Morrisville and Norwich campuses. An action-oriented, interactive learning lab, the college is a national leader in technology and has been lauded for its exemplary, innovative and effective community service programs.
The college was ranked among the Best Regional Colleges in the North by U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges 2018 issue and was also recognized in the Top Public Schools, Regional Colleges North in the 2018 Best Colleges rankings. For more information about Morrisville State College, visit www.morrisville.edu.