Women’s lacrosse primed for PSAC playoffs

Going into Tuesday’s Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference, the Indiana University of Pennsylvania women’s lacrosse team will face a familiar opponent.

After having just beaten Bloomsburg University, the two teams will face off for the second time in six days in the PSAC quarterfinals. IUP defeated the Huskies 14-9 on Wednesday.

“If we just play our game, we will easily come out on top,” Michelle Zakrzewski (senior, health and physical education) said.

Though IUP came out on top, the Crimson Hawks’ regular season finale victory was anything but easy.

IUP had to fight back from deficits of 2-0 and 3-1 early in the first half. The Crimson Hawks used a 5-0 run to take a 5-3 lead midway through the first half before going into halftime with a 6-5 lead.

Drew Hayden (sophomore, speech pathology) continued her dominant season by scoring four of her five goals in the second half to lead the Crimson Hawks.

Brittney Palardy (sophomore, athletic training), Amy Weinberg (sophomore, special education and clinical services) and Kim Hooven (freshman, elementary and special education) each scored goals in the second half for IUP to hold on to the 14-9 victory.

Goalkeeper Katie Davis (senior, interior design) saved six shots while the strong Crimson Hawks defense overpowered the Huskies offense, limiting the opposition to just 15 shots on goal.

After the game, head coach Mindy Richmond credited the victory to the team’s ability to put two solid halves of lacrosse together.

“Playing a full two halves [was key],” Richmond said. “We’ve really been struggling with the intensity in the second half of games, and it was just about playing with intensity for an entire 60 minutes.”

The victory came on the heels of a 14-13 home loss just four days earlier to West Chester University.

IUP started the season 10-2 but split its four-game homestand to end the season and finish 12-4.

The 12 wins tie for second-most in team history. Last year, the Crimson Hawks set a school record with 13 victories.

Overall, the 2014 season could be described as record-breaking.

Hayden averaged 3.81 goals per game en route to 61 on the season, breaking Alexa Lodovici’s record of 55 set last season.

For good measure, Hayden also added 19 assists for a total of 80 points and had a .629 shooting percentage.

Not to be outdone, Weinberg also broke some records.

An 11 assist game April 5 broke the PSAC mark of 10, which was previously held by Lock Haven University’s Chelsea Borrino.

Weinberg assisted on seven goals in the first half alone, which set a new school mark.

With 49 assists on the season, Weinberg bested the old school record of 46, which was held jointly by Becca Vogt and Lodovici.

Another school record fell as the Crimson Hawks scored 274 goals on the season, including six 20-goal games. IUP teams scored 263 goals the last two seasons.

While Bloomsburg poses as a threat to the Crimson Hawks’ chances of advancing in the playoffs, recent history is on IUP’s side in Tuesday’s game.

Last year, IUP beat Gannon University 18-10 in the regular season finale, then came back just three days later to defeat the Knights by a similar 19-10 scoreline.

“We have been in a similar situation before, and it does help to have just played the same team the week prior,” Taylor Norwood (senior, nursing) said.

“The corrections that need to be made are fresh in our minds, and the practices in between these two games have been focused on fixing those.”

The winner of Tuesday’s game faces second-seeded Mercyhurst University Friday. Lock Haven, the host of the semifinals and finals, is the top seed.

Mercyhurst snapped IUP’s eight-game win streak in a 15-13 win April 15 in a matchup of nationally ranked teams.

A chance to defeat the Lakers in a rematch would be a “dream,” Weinberg said.

“That would be a huge win,” she said. “It’s every team’s dream to get revenge on a team who beat us earlier in the season, especially in the playoffs.”

Game action against the Huskies starts at 4 p.m. at George P. Miller Stadium.