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Women’s lacrosse faces Dartmouth in NCAA tournament

First stop in Terriers’ quest to play in finals at Nickerson Field is May 14

Senior midfielder Lindsay Lewis (SHA�06)

The 15-4 BU women’s lacrosse team will face a daunting challenge in its second straight appearance in the NCAA tournament. On Sunday, May 14, at 1 p.m., the Terriers will travel to Hanover, N.H., to face Dartmouth (11-5), a squad that pummeled BU, 11-5, at the Big Green’s Scully-Fahey Field more than two weeks ago.

Dartmouth has lost just two home games this season, but the ninth-ranked Terriers have additional motivation — aside from revenge. If BU beats Dartmouth and then defeats the winner of the May 14 Virginia-Princeton matchup the following Saturday, the Terriers will enjoy home advantage the rest of the way: this year BU hosts the NCAA semifinals on May 26 and the championship game on May 28 at Nickerson Field.

But first BU will have to get the ball past Dartmouth senior Devon Wills, the nation’s top goalkeeper with a 6.72 goals against average. BU has solved the Wills problem before, beating Dartmouth — a 2005 NCAA semifinalist — last year, 10-9.

Furthermore, BU has had a taste of NCAA tournament–caliber teams this season, facing 3 of the 16 squads and earning victories over third-ranked Georgetown and fifth-ranked North Carolina before the loss to Dartmouth. As a team, the Big Green is stingy on defense, leading the nation in scoring defense (6.94) and turnovers (13.06). The Terriers are seventh in scoring offense (13.63) and have proven their explosiveness against tough defenses, including a 20-5 blasting of New Hampshire on April 29. Eight days later, in the America East championship game, BU came back from a 5-goal deficit against the same team by scoring 9 of the game’s final 11 goals — including a 3-goal burst in a span of just 48 seconds — to pull off a 12-10 victory over the Wildcats.

“We played with urgency in the second half and made the plays we needed to down the stretch,” recalls BU coach Liza Kelly. “UNH was very good defensively in the first half, and that forced us to change our mentality at halftime.” Senior midfielder Lindsay Lewis (SHA’06), playing on an injured ankle, scored a game-high four goals. Senior defender Danica Strutt (COM’06) was named Most Outstanding Player of the tournament and joined Lewis, Kaitlyn Cuneo (COM’06), and defender Molly Collins (CGS’06) on the All-Championship Team.

BU is making its second consecutive appearance in the NCAA tournament in the Terriers’ 11-year history as a Division I team. The team also appeared in the national bracket in 2000 and 2003. Last season, Kelly guided BU to its best season ever, posting an 18-2 record and earning her America East Coach of the Year honors. The 2005 squad rattled off 14 straight victories before bowing to Virginia in the NCAA quarterfinals.

On Sunday, while most of the BU Class of 2006 will be on Nickerson Field for the main Commencement ceremony, seniors Lewis, Strutt, Cuneo, and other Terrier fourth-year players will attempt to make BU lacrosse history, with the eventual goal of stepping onto that same turf two weeks later in the national championship game.

“From the start of the season our seniors stepped right into leadership roles that were left behind by four great players,” says Kelly. “We are fortunate to have such an accomplished and mature group lead the way.”