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Muhlenberg College

Tuesday, April 22, 2008 - page 2

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Championship Preview

Women’s lax poised for first-ever playoff appearance

The members of the Muhlenberg women’s lacrosse team will experience an entirely new emotion when they travel to Westminster to face against McDaniel on Wednesday. And what an emotion that would be!

Having never felt before the thrill to play in a Centennial Conference playoff game, the fifth-seeded Mules will meet up the fourth-seeded Green Terror in the opening round of the tournament only four days after the two squads closed out their conference schedules with an epic encounter in Allentown, which resulted in a 22-19 victory for McDaniel on Saturday.

Despite the loss, the Mules don’t hide their optimism for the upcoming rematch.
 Taylor Armstrong
Armstrong has generated 84 assists during her four-year career with the Mules and needs only one against McDaniel to tie for first place with Lynsey Caldwell.

“We are nervous, but excited at the same time,” senior Taylor Armstrong said. “We have nothing to lose and everything to gain. We just need to focus on what we have to get done and not worry about them.”

Classmate Marissa Capuano expressed her confidence that there would be no pressure on her and her teammates and assured that Saturday’s defeat is well behind their backs.

“We don’t care about what happened,” Capuano said. “We are not taking anything for granted. The pressure is now on them and they [McDaniel] have a lot more to prove. On any given day any team can win.”

The Green Terror is no stranger to the CC playoffs as the squad will make its fourth tournament appearance in the past five seasons. McDaniel has accumulated a 2-3 mark in playoff action with all three loses coming against national powerhouse Franklin & Marshall.

The Mules will rely on their prolific attack, which has averaged 15.47 goals this campaign, scoring 17 goals and more in nine games on the season. The combinative work is a crucial factor for the Mules’ excellent performance this season as they are one of only two CC teams that average over eight assists per game.

Armstrong, who is only an assist shy of the Muhlenberg all-time leading crown in assists, tops the league in helpers with 46 (3.1 assists per game).

In Saturday’s contest, the Mules pitched a late comeback effort and almost overcame a large nine-goal deficit, but ran out of time as McDaniel clinched the vital victory, which guaranteed them a playoff spot.

McDaniel head coach Muffie Bliss has at her disposition the highest-scoring player in the league in sophomore Brittany Baer, who averages 3.7 goals per game and also leads the squad in ground balls (30), draw controls (42) and caused turnovers (16). In last week’s encounter, Baer finished with seven points on five goals and two assists to go along with five draw controls.

“To win we have to give 110 percent on both sides of the field,” Capuano said. “Winning the draws is the biggest thing.”

The winner will join the stellar company of three nationally-ranked teams in the semifinals – No. 2 Franklin & Marshall, No. 4 Gettysburg and No. 12 Dickinson.

The first semifinal will feature the top-seeded Diplomats, who are the reigning champions, and the victor of the McDaniel-Muhlenberg clash at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday. The second semifinal will be between the second-seeded Bullets and the third-seeded Red Devils at 3:30 p.m.

For Capuano, Mules’ first-ever qualification for the playoffs is the natural outcome of the hard work everybody on the team has put all year long.

“This season we did well beyond what we were expected,” Capuano said. “Our hard work every day has helped us win in the close games. A lot of freshmen and sophomores are playing often this season and have stepped it up for us.”

“We have to attribute the success to everyone on the team,” Armstrong added.
Click here to go to the Championship Web site.

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