Women's Lacrosse NCAA Preview

PATRIOTLEAGUEDOTORG Nikki Bolduc and the Crusaders make its NCAA Tournament debut against Duke this weekend.
Nikki Bolduc and the Crusaders make its NCAA Tournament debut against Duke this weekend.

May 11, 2006

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Difficulty Increases as Holy Cross Draws Duke
The season of firsts for Holy Cross continues as the Crusaders advance to its first-ever NCAA Women's Lacrosse Tournament. The task at hand for Holy Cross however continues to become more challenging as the Patriot League Champion will face top-seeded Duke in the first round at Koskinen Field in Durham, N.C. at 2 p.m. on Mother's Day.

This will be the first-ever meeting between the Crusaders and Lady Blue Devils, which has not faced a Patriot League team in nine years when Duke topped Lehigh, 14-5, in 1997 at home. Duke is 1-2 lifetime against the Patriot League.

While Holy Cross becomes the fourth team in Patriot League history to receive a berth into the NCAA Tournament (American, Colgate and Lafayette are the others), Duke will make its ninth-straight appearance. The Lady Blue Devils were ousted in the semifinals last year by ACC-rival Virginia, 15-13. Holy Cross' postseason berth marks the fifth-straight season, and sixth-time overall, that a Patriot League team has qualified for the NCAA Tournament.

The Holy Cross Resume
The ride that is the 2006 season refuses to die for Holy Cross. And its roots can be traced back to the 2005 campaign, which saw the Crusaders post its first winning season (10-9, 4-2) in three years and advance to the Patriot League championship game for the first time since 2001.

Proving '05 was no fluke, Holy Cross rewrote its program record books by posting the squad's first-ever perfect-regular season in Patriot League play (6-0) as well as the program's first regular-season League title. The Crusaders rolled through the Patriot League Tournament en route to the program's first-ever League championship and defeated Le Moyne last week in the NCAA Play-In game to make its NCAA Tournament debut.

Along the way, the Crusaders faced and answered several challenges which included snapping Colgate's 22-game League winning streak and two-year stranglehold on the Patriot League crown. In fact, Holy Cross defeated Colgate twice in the span of 10 days - the first win for its first perfect regular season and the second for the Patriot League title.

Third-year Head Coach Stephanie Pavlick has led the Holy Cross revival, recording 17 Patriot League victories over the past three seasons en route to the 2006 Patriot League Coach of the Year Award. Senior goaltender Megan Orr leads the nation in save percentage and captured her second-straight Patriot League Goalkeeper of the Year honor in 2006. Junior attack Patricia Sutton became the first Crusader in program history to earn Patriot League Offensive Player of the Year honors while senior midfield Carolyn Smirti took home Patriot League Tournament Most Valuable Player honors.

NCAA Tournament - First Round
Holy Cross (14-6, 6-0) vs. Duke (16-2, 4-1)

2006 Regular Season Meeting
First Meeting

NCAA Tournament Meetings
First Meeting

NCAA Tournament Records
Holy Cross 0-0 (0-0 First Round)
Duke 6-8 (4-3 First Round)

No. 3 Duke will be Holy Cross' first-ranked opponent of the season ... The Crusaders are 0-1 against Atlantic Coast Conference foes this season, falling to Boston College on April 19 ... Duke's only two defeats this season came to ACC-rival Virginia, with the final loss coming in the ACC Championship game ... The Crusaders are 14th in the nation in scoring defense and 19th in scoring margin.

The Patriot League Lowdown

Five-by-Five Two-thousand and six marks the fifth-straight season the Patriot League has sent a team to the NCAA Tournament.

Patriot League NCAA Roll Call Since the inception of the Patriot League in 1990-91, five teams from the League have advanced to the NCAA Tournament. Colgate and Lafayette are both tied with the most Patriot League appearances - two. Lafayette earned an NCAA Tournament berth in 1991 and 2002. Colgate is the only Patriot League program to make back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances in 2004 and 2005.

Patriot League NCAA Tournament Appearances By School Colgate (2) 2004, 2005
Lafayette (2) 1991, 2002
American (1) 2003
Holy Cross (1) 2005

History Lesson Although Lehigh has not advanced to the NCAA Tournament since becoming a charter member of the Patriot League, the Mountain Hawks also have one postseason appearance under its belt from 1984. Lehigh defeated Loyola in double overtime before falling to national runner-up Maryland in the semifinals.

History Lesson, Part 2 In addition to the two NCAA Tournament appearances Lafayette has made while a member of the Patriot League, the Leopards also advanced to the national tournament in 1988 and 1989. Lafayette received a first-round bye in 1988 before falling to Penn State in the semifinals. In 1999, the Leopards lost to Temple in the first round.

Did You Know? Holy Cross has the second-greatest turnaround in NCAA women's lacrosse history when it won nine more games in 2001 (13-7) than it did in 2000 (4-12).

And Holy Cross' 1999 squad is 14th in the NCAA women's lacrosse history with 18.78 ppg.

If Megan Orr can remain number one in save percentage by the end of the NCAA Tournament, she will become the first Patriot League student-athlete since Lafayette's Stephanie Tinney in 2002 to lead the nation in a statistical category. Tinney averaged a nation-best 5.40 groundballs per game in 2002.

Patriot League NCAA Tournament Appearances

2005; First Round
@ Boston, Mass.; Boston University 12, Colgate 6

2004; First Round
@ Princeton, N.J.; Princeton 18, Colgate 6

2003; First Round
@ Charlottesville, Va.; Virginia 19, American 3

2002; First Round
@ Washington, D.C.; Georgetown 20, Lafayette 9

1991; First Round
@ Easton, Pa.; Penn State 11, Lafayette 9