Selinsgrove Pa. – Playing in the NCAA Championship Tournament for the first time, the Geneseo women’s lacrosse team (13-5) exploded for a 15-7 win over previously undefeated Susquehanna (17-1) Wednesday in a first-round playoff game. The Knights, who used a 12-1 run to take control then held off the Crusaders’ late charge, will play #8 Bowdoin in a second-round game Saturday. Saturday’s second round will be part of a four-team regional; the other second-round game features Cortland facing the winner of Wednesday night’s Kenyon at Adrian game. The NCAA will announce the site of the weekend regional on Thursday.
"We prepared for this game just like we would for any other game,” said Carly Ritchlin, Geneseo’s head coach. “We knew we could not let up for one second."
Senior Julie Bernatzky (Mount Sinai/Mount Sinai) made a career-high 18 saves as Geneseo held the high-scoring Crusaders to just seven goals on 25 shots on goal.
Susquehanna actually outshot the Knights 37-36.
Junior Caroline Buonocore (Syracuse/Westhill) scored a season-best six goals, all during Geneseo’s explosive outburst.
After the Crusaders scored two on their first three shots on goal to open a 2-0 lead 5:57 into the opening period, Buonocore put the Knights on the board 12:40 in by scoring on a free position shot. She picked up the equalizer five minutes later and junior attack Meredith Weber (Bellport/Bellport) gave Geneseo the lead for good with the first of her four goals, scoring at the 9:56 mark.
Buonocore scored three more goals in the final 10 minutes of the half and picked up her sixth goal 3:39 into the second period. She raised her career total to 210 points, one shy of the program’s second-highest all-time figure.
During Geneseo’s run – which extended from Buonocore’s opening goal through Weber’s goal exactly 10 minutes into the second half – the Knights outscored Susquehanna 12-1 in a span of 32:30 (the Crusaders had allowed only two opponents to score as many goals in an entire game all year).
During the decisive burst Bernatzky saved nine of Susquehanna’s 10 shots on goal, including a pair of free-position attempts (the Crusaders missed the cage on two other free-position shots). Bernatzky moved into fourth on Geneseo’s list for career saves; she now has 342.
The Knights scored on three of their first four second-half shots in the second half to stretch their lead to 12-3 before the Crusaders tallied four goals in eight minutes to pull to within 12-7. Three more Geneseo goals sealed the win with senior midfielder Rachel Petrone (Rochester/Penfield) notching her second goal of the game and sophomore attack Katey Hart (Syracuse/West Genesee) and junior midfielder Emily Haggerty (Syracuse/Westhill) closing out the scoring.
Petrone scored a season-high three goals. First year midfielder Liz Felix (Scarsdale/Scarsdale) had a pair of assists and senior attack Jen Costanza (Webster/Schroeder) assisted on the game’s final goal.
Haggerty assisted on Buonocore’s fourth goal; the assist was the 66th of her career, tying her for second on the program’s all-time list.
Bernatzky’s career-high six ground balls also led Geneseo. Senior midfielder Lea Paris (Henrietta/Rush-Henrietta) picked up five and Haggerty and Petrone had four apiece.
Buonocore won a team-high three draw controls with Haggerty and junior midfielder Kylie Caesar (Delmar/Bethlehem) contributing two apiece.
Hart and Paris both caused a pair of turnovers.
"The biggest factor [in the win] was that we played together’” said Ritchlin. “We rely on all 27 players on the team."
Geneseo’s 15 goals were the most given up by Susquehanna this season. The Crusaders – who entered the game as one of three undefeated teams in Division III – ranked 13th nationally in scoring offense. The Knights’ defense held them nine goals under their season average.
Post-game press conference