Chesterman, Gators eye national title
The Florida University women’s lacrosse arrived in New York earlier this week, already in preparation for today’s NCAA semifinal game against Syracuse University on the campus of Stony Brook University.
The top-seeded Gators (19-2) and No. 3 Orange (18-3) square off at 5:30 p.m. at Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium.
Once the Gators finished practice on Wednesday, they went home for dinner – literally. In this case, the home of junior attacker Gabi Wiegand, who grew up just a few miles away in Bay Shore.
While this is clearly a business trip for the Gators, it is also a homecoming.
Wiegand isn’t the only Gator from Long Island. It’s also a place from which Gators coach Amanda O’Leary heavily recruits.
Only three of the 24 players on the roster are from Florida, with the rest from Maryland, New Jersey or New York. The players understand the lacrosse culture in the Northeast in a way many of the fans who show up regularly at Don Dizney Stadium back home night not.
“It’s very popular,” said freshman midfielder Shannon Gilroy, who is from Northport. “I expect a lot of noise, a lot of people and a lot of people ready to see Gator lacrosse.'”
Fellow New Yorker Caroline Chesterman of South Nyack quickly agreed.
“Long Island, all the laxers are there,” said the junior attack out of Nyack HS on GatorZone.com. “It's the whole new 'it' sport. It used to be soccer I feel like.
“I went to the Final Four last year. So it’s cool being able to see it and then this year actually being able to participate.”
The Gators have surpassed expectations in only the program's third season, and are just two wins from a national championship.
Chesterman has imagined a moment like this since the NCAA moved the Final Four to Stony Brook a few years ago.
“A lot of my friends, families and neighbors are all coming up,” she said.
“I'm actually thrilled that it’s so close to home because in past years the games have been in Maryland. Just having an opportunity to play in front of friends and families is awesome.”
With so many players from the Northeast, the Gators often have nearly as many fans at road games as the home team. When they played at Johns Hopkins earlier this season in Baltimore, MD, more than 200 fans had a cookout with the team following the game.
A similar scene is expected today when the Gators face Syracuse for a spot in the national championship game.
Chesterman was sold on coming to Florida to play for a lot of reasons, led by the chance to win a national title.
‘One day you’re going to be good, guys, I promise,' ”Chesterman recalls O’Leary telling the inaugural 2010 team. “I believed (Coach) when she said it. It’s great how far we’ve come and all the hard work we've put to be in this situation.”
Hats off to Kivlehan
Rutgers University head baseball coach Fred Hill, completing his 29th season at the Big East Championships in Clearwater, FL., has obvious high praise for senior Patrick Kivlehan of West Nyack, who on Tuesday was elected as the conference’s player of the year.
“It’s just an amazing accomplishment as far as I’m concerned,” said Hill, in a website interview. “Not having played baseball in four years and to do the things he did is a testament to his hard work. He was also a lifesaver for our team because one of our better players, Russ Hopkins, was injured the day before practice started and he picked up right where Russ left off. He’s got to be very proud of himself; the coaches certainly are proud of his accomplishment.”
Kivlehan, who joined the team after playing a key role in the highly successful Rutgers football program for the last four seasons, won the first triple crown in Big East history with a .410 batting average, 10 home runs and 36 RBI in 27 conference games. He also won the overall batting (.399) and home run (14) titles, while having the highest slugging (.710) and on-base percentages (.484) in 49 contests. The former defensive back/linebacker additionally finished third in the conference with 24 stolen bases.
Kivlehan, a graduate of St. Joseph’s Regional HS in Montvale, NJ, went 0 for 4 with a walk as Rutgers lost to state rival Seton Hall University, 6-1, in the opening round of the Big East Championships. (Junior outfielder Ryan Sullivan, an alum of Albertus Magnus HS, went 0 for 1 as a pinch-hitter for Seton Hall, which lifted its record to 34-22 to match last season’s win total.)
Kivlehan, a third baseman, capped his magical season with a single and a walk in a 9-0 loss to Notre Dame (30-27) in an elimination game on Thursday to finish with an overall .392 batting average, .480 on-base percentage and a .693 slugging percentage in his first year playing collegiate baseball.
Senior pitcher Ryan Fasano of Stony Point worked 1.1 innings out of the bullpen in the finale, allowing no earned runs and striking out two.
During the regular season, in which the Scarlet Knights went 31-23, Kivlehan recorded 24 multiple-hit games, including three contests with four hits. Rutgers has gone 23-15 since the third baseman took over the cleanup spot in the order on March 18 at Stetson.
- Roy Colsey and Tim Nelson, former Yorktown High School and Syracuse University lacrosse standouts, have been selected for induction into the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame. Colsey was a four-time all-American from 1992-95, winning the McLaughlin Award his senior season as the nation’s top midfielder. Third on Yorktown’s career goal list with 177, Colsey played nine MLL seasons, and was named championship MVP in 2006. Nelson, second on the Cornhuskers’ all-time scoring list with 392 points (one behind his brother, Tom) started at North Carolina State before transferring to Syracuse, and was named all-American three times from 1983-85. He won the Lt. Col. Jack Turnbull Award three times as the nation’s top attackman and won an NCAA title with the Orange in 1983.
- Highlighted by senior Ali Steinberg of Suffern, on the first team, four Rutgers University women’s lacrosse standouts have been named to the Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association (IWLCA) all-Mid-Atlantic regional teams. Named to the second-team were senior defenseman Rebecca Alley of Tewksbury, NJ, junior midfielder Stephanie Anderson of Wading River, and junior goalie Lily Kalata of Nesconset. Steinberg paced the Scarlet Knights with 48 points on 32 goals and 16 assists. The midfielder added 38 draw controls, 21 ground balls and 16 caused turnovers.
- Nichols College rookie Brett Jackson of Larchmont was named to the inaugural D3baseball.com all-New England third-team after leading the Bisons with a 10-game hitting streak and 11 stolen bases while playing in 19 of the squad’s 31 games. The Mamaroneck HS alum also batted .395 with a gaudy .500 on-base percentage.
- Nationally second-ranked SUNY Cortland will face top-ranked Salisbury University in the NCAA Division III men’s lacrosse championship game on Sunday at 4 p.m. at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, MA. Playing for Cortland are midfielders Tom Casey of Yorktown, a junior, and freshman Andrew Billups of New Rochelle, and sophomore defenseman Stephen Burke of Yorktown.
- The SUNY Cortland Red Dragons (39-7-1) meet Kean (NJ) College (37-10) today at 2:15 p.m. on the opening day of the NCAA Division III Baseball Championship at Fox Cities Stadium in Grand Chute, Wisconsin. The eight-team, double-elimination tournament runs until Tuesday. Four Red Dragons were named to the New York Regional all-Tournament Team including junior designated hitter Andrew Pezzuto of Hastings, who was named MVP, and sophomore catcher Tim Panetta of Mount Kisco.
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