Women's Lacrosse Pulls Away From RIT

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Men's lacrosse, men's tennis

Even with Stephanie Umbach and Michelle Certosimo continuing to rewRITe the record books, the Muhlenberg women’s lacrosse team couldn’t quite shake Rochester Institute of Technology. That is, until the Mules’ defense stepped in.

Kiersten Mulvey
Sophomore Kiersten Mulvey made five saves, including this one on a free-position shot with the score tied at 7-7 late in the first half.
While Umbach was busy netting a career-high eight goals, Muhlenberg held the Tigers scoreless for a 31-minute stretch spanning halftime, helping to turn a two-goal deficit into a commanding lead en route to a 16-10 victory. The Mules (4-1), who won their sixth straight at home, were trailing, 7-5, midway through the first half before putting the clamps on and leaving RIT in the dust.

“Our attitude changed,” said Muhlenberg senior Kaitlyn McCaffrey, who finished with five ground balls and four caused turnovers. ”We came into this game really pumped and wanting to win again with a huge game coming up next week. We wanted to continue that momentum.

“We just had a moment where we told ourselves that we’re so much better than this,” McCaffrey continued. “We just started to put everything together.”

The Mules’ offense has been putting everything together since the season’s opening draw. Averaging nearly 16 goals per game coming in, Muhlenberg hit that number again, finding the back of the net on more than half of its 30 shots. In the middle of it all was its fearsome threesome.

The three-headed monster of Umbach, Certosimo and Casey Armstrong had a hand in every Mule goal but one. Umbach turned in the best scoring performance of her prolific career, becoming the first player in program history to score at least seven goals in back-to-back games after a seven-goal outburst against FDU-Florham on Wednesday; it was the first time a Mule scored eight goals since 2006. Her fifth consecutive hat trick included a remarkable first-half burst in which she scored three times in just over two minutes, the first two in 14 seconds, to give the Mules an 8-7 lead.

That jumpstarted a run of nine consecutive goals that put Muhlenberg on top, 14-7, with 18:44 to play. When RIT (1-2) finally ended its drought at the 13-minute mark, the game was already well in hand. In addition to her high-scoring antics, Umbach helped out the defense with a career-best six caused turnovers – one off the school record – and sophomore Amanda Orlak had a pair to go along with four ground balls. After the Tigers scored on seven of their first eight shots, Muhlenberg allowed only 10 attempts in the final 44 minutes.

Kelsey Nagle
Nagle assisted on a goal by Umbach to open the second-half scoring.
“Our defense is really starting to come together,” McCaffrey said. “We are figuring out where we should be and starting to really gel. We really like our team.”

Certosimo, meanwhile, continued her generous ways with six more assists. She is the first Mule to record five or more helpers in three straight games, and her second consecutive six-assist effort gave her six such games for her career; there are only four others in Muhlenberg history. As a team, Muhlenberg matched a season high by assisting on 12 of its 16 goals.

After breaking the all-time school record in that category during Wednesday’s victory over FDU-Florham, Certosimo already has 25 assists this season. A third of Saturday’s total went to Umbach, who added an assist of her own for the first nine-point game of her career. Umbach also had six draw controls and scooped up four ground balls.

“Steph and Michelle,” McCaffrey said, “are just ridiculous.”

Armstrong probably deserves that label with her recent play. The sophomore had three goals and four assists three days after a four-goal, five-assist explosion. Junior Kayleigh Thies added a pair of goals for the Mules, while freshman Kelsey Nagle scored the second of her career and senior Ally Shaffer added one of her own.

Another victory under their belts, the Mules are back home on St. Patrick’s Day for the finale of a stretch of three home games in six days. Five days later, Centennial Conference play begins with a trip to Franklin & Marshall, the fifth-ranked team in Division III. The way Muhlenberg is playing, McCaffrey and company believe they can compete with anyone.

“We’re progressing every day,” McCaffrey said. “We keep getting better and better, and we’re ready for conference play coming up.”
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