Bridgewater State University women's lacrosse team earned an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Championship Tournament and will open the tournament on the road at NESCAC champion Trinity College on Wednesday, May 9 at 7 p.m.
Watch the NCAA Selection Show at www.ncaa.com.
Trinity, ranked No. 4 in the nation, is 16-1 this spring, while the Bears are 12-7 after downing Westfield State, 6-5 in overtime, on Saturday to win the NEWLA title.
Bridgewater (12-7) will be making its third straight NCAA Tournament appearance and fourth overall (2003, 2010-2012). The Bears advanced to the NCAAs after capturing the program's fifth consecutive New England Women's Lacrosse Alliance (NEWLA) Tournament championship with a dramatic 6-5 overtime win over Westfield State on Saturday.
Trinity (16-1) earned an automatic bid to the tournament with an 11-10 victory over Middlebury College in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) title game on Sunday. The Bantams, who are currently ranked fourth in all of Division III, have qualified for the NCAAs four of the last five years and eight times overall.
Under the guidance of first-year head coach, Paula Habel, the Bears went 8-0 in NEWLA play during the regular season to earn the top seed in last week's conference tournament. Bridgewater downed fourth-seeded Fitchburg State, 13-2, in the semifinals before edging #2 Westfield in overtime to win the championship.
The Bears are led by NEWLA Defensive Player of the Year, junior defender Shelby Farland (Fiskdale, Mass.), and fellow all-conference selections sophomore midfielder Taylor Clancy (Braintree, Mass.), freshman attack Riley Cachelin (Westwood, Mass.), junior midfielder Michelle Navoni (Mansfield, Mass.), sophomore attack Melanie Appleman (Hyannis, Mass.) and sophomore defender Braylan Wenzel (Buzzards, Bay, Mass.).
Farland heads into the tournament with 40 ground balls, 15 controlled draws and 11 caused turnovers to go along with eight goals and three assists, while Clancy leads the Bears in scoring (51 pts.), goals (42), ground balls (61), draws (67) and caused turnovers (28).
Cachelin has had a terrific rookie campaign as she checks in with 31 goals and a team-leading 15 assists for 46 points. Navoni has amassed 48 ground balls, 45 draws, 23 caused turnovers as well as 22 goals and ten assists in 18 games. Appleman is third on the team in scoring with 39 points on 28 goals and 11 helpers, while Wenzel currently has 17 ground balls, 31 draws and nine caused turnovers to her credit.
The Bears’ goaltending tandem of sophomore Victoria Moore (Duxbury, Mass.) and freshman Jessica Polaski (Agawam, Mass.) have backstopped the Bears to a solid 8.07 team goals against average. Moore has appeared in 17 games with 12 starts as she is 8-5 on the season with 77 saves and a 7.82 goals against average. Polaski is 4-2 in six starts over 11 games with 38 saves and an 8.94 goals against average.
Kathryn Livesay is in her sixth season at the helm of the Trinity women's lacrosse program. The Bantams are led by senior midfielder and three-time All-American Liz Bruno (Andover, Mass.). Bruno has a team-best 23 assists to go along with 18 goals for 41 points, and leads the squad in draws controls (44) and caused turnovers (38).
Junior attacker Hadley Duncan (Rye, N.Y.) is the Bantams' leading scorer with 53 points on 49 goals and four assists. Junior midfielder Megan Leonhard (Summit, N.J.), a 2011 First Team All-American, has 42 goals and six assists, while senior attacker and 2010 Third Team All-American Caite Irvine (Westwood, Mass.) adds 40 goals and four assists. Leonhard also boasts a team-high 40 ground balls.
Junior goaltender Olivia Whitney (Danvers, Mass.) enters tournament play with a 7.71 goals against average and 77 saves. Senior defender Elizabeth Beckler (Potomac, Md.) leads a tough and consistent Bantam defense which also includes juniors Mallory Hinman (Longmeadow, Mass.) and Hillary McNamara (Milton, Mass.) and sophomore Lyndsey Shepard (Hamilton, Mass.). The group has combined for 111 ground balls and 66 caused turnovers, including 35 grounders and 26 turnovers caused by Hinman.
Bridgewater will face Trinity in the NCAA Tournament for the second time in three years. In 2010, the Bantams posted a 19-3 first round victory over the Bears in Hartford, Connecticut.