FOUR YEARS OF FRUSTRATION LEAD TO LOCK HAVEN DOMINATION
By Al Mattei
When the NCAA Division II championship was expanded to four teams in 2000, nobody expected four-time defending champion Bloomsburg (Pa.) to be left out of the field.
It could have been expected that Lock Haven (Pa.) and Bentley (Mass.), the runners-up for the last four years, to meet for the 2000 final at Lock Haven.
Few, however, expected the Eagles to sweep to the championship, outshooting the opposition 66-7 in the semifinal and final rounds. Lock Haven's 2-0 win came from firing 17 shots on the Bentley cage.
"They were attacking us very strongly all game," said Falcons head coach Kelly McGowan. "We have a young defense, and they were taking advantage of it."
Shanna Vitale pumped a corner shot in the game's 12th minute to give the Eagles a lead they would not relinquish.
"Shanna is extremely dangerous on those," said Lock Haven head coach Pat Rudy, whose team won the D-2 title for the first time since 1995.
The game was, despite Lock Haven's territorial and attack domination, still tight approaching the hour. However, when Amy Hale latched onto a Vitale free hit to score a late field goal, it became clear that it was not the Falcons' day.
"I'm proud of the team for getting here again," said McGowan. "We lost a lot of senior leadership and big players from last season, and everyone told us that it was going to be a rebuilding year, but it wasn't. We played ourselves back to the national championship, and it's unfortunate that it had to end the same way it did last year. But they've all done a good job."
Bentley had every right to be optimistic after a 1-0 win over St. Michael's (Mass.) in the semifinal match, while Lock Haven served notice on the field with a 2-1 win over mid-season favorite Indiana (Pa.). The notice that Lock Haven served was on the attack end, as the Eagles threw 49 shots on the IUP goal, forcing Indians netminder Jen Lawler into 29 saves.
However, the one she did not get was a top-corner flick by LHU's Erika Grap in the game's 62nd minute.
First half -- 1. Lock Haven, Vitale (Marionni), 12th minute.
Second half -- 2. Lock Haven, Hale (Vitale) 55th.
Shots -- Bentley 3, Lock Haven 17.
Saves -- Bentley: Novis 7, defensive 1; Lock Haven, Beach 2.