Fords eager for opportunity to shine in Centennial tournament

HAVERFORD, Pa. - The Haverford College women's lacrosse team will participate in the semifinals of the Centennial Conference tournament for just the second time in program history this weekend at top seed Gettysburg College. Having grown in confidence throughout the season, the third-seeded Fords will be aiming to defy the odds and land a spot in the championship game where anything can happen.

Haverford (13-4) begins its quest for a championship against No. 2 seed Franklin & Marshall College on Saturday in the tournament's second semifinal. The Diplomats, ranked sixth in the latest Division III poll, have captured five titles over the 12-year history of the conference tournament including three straight from 2009-11.

Eager to show that they can compete with F&M, the Fords will look to continue to defy expectations as they have all season. Haverford, picked to finish seventh in the preseason poll of conference coaches, persevered through the treacherous conference slate and continuously found ways to win. Coming through with two last-second victories the Fords went 7-2 to register the best Centennial record in program history.

Seniors Perrin Downing, Kenny Likes and Grace Stockbower provided outstanding leadership on the field to propel the successful campaign. Downing delivered eight of her 16 goals on the season in the last four games as Haverford looked to clinch a playoff spot. Likes, the team leader in assists, established new career-highs in points (seven), assists (five), ground balls (three) and draw controls (eight) over the course of a stellar final season wearing a Fords' uniform. Spearheading a strong team-wide defensive effort was Stockbower as she ranked third in caused turnovers in the conference while leading the squad in the statistic for the second year in a row.

While a trio of seniors kept the team focused on its goals throughout the regular season, it was a young supporting cast that provided the firepower. Sophomore Diana Perry paced the offense with a team-high 58 goals including a program-record 15 free position conversions. Perry, boasting the third-highest goal total in the Centennial, has now scored multiple goals in 19 consecutive games dating back to her freshman season.

Perry was far from a one-person show as junior Megan Gallagher (35), freshman Christina Gould (20), sophomore Hannah Morgan (27) and sophomore Dayna Kim (14) also reached double figures in goals.

Junior goalie Shannon Horn has provided a dependable presence between the pipes for Haverford. Taking over the starting role this season, Horn (12-4) ranked third in the conference in saves (111) at the conclusion of the regular season including four double-digit save performances.

Franklin & Marshall (13-3) owns the 34th-ranked scoring defense in all of Division III led by senior Jen Noon. Noon ranks sixth in the Centennial in ground balls and eighth in caused turnovers. Protecting the goal is junior Kelsey Hoffman. Hoffman  tops the conference and ranks 28th nationally in save percentage (.498).

The Diplomats rely on a balanced attack on offense as six players have tallied more than 20 goals led by sophomore Brittany Jorgenson with 39.

F&M's three losses on the season have all come at the hands of nationally-ranked opponents--No. 2 Salisbury, No. 4 SUNY-Cortland and No. 5 Gettsyburg.

Gettysburg and Franklin & Marshall occupy the top two spots, respectively, in this week's women's lacrosse NCAA regional rankings. Haverford sits sixth to account for three Centennial teams ranked in the Metro Region. The Fords, 9-1 away from Swan Field this season, are also receiving votes in this week's national poll.

The third-place Centennial regular-season finish is Haverford's highest in history. The squad also tied the program mark for overall wins in a season (13) with its 17-14 victory over Swarthmore on April 27.

Coach Lauren Wray is excited about her club's chance to shine this weekend. "Our team is extremely excited for the opportunity to compete in the Centennial semifinals," said Wray. "Franklin & Marshall is a very talented team with good speed and athleticism, but our squad has been gaining momentum and confidence this season and I believe we are ready to step up to the challenge."

The opening semifinal on Saturday pits the host Bullets against fourth seed Washington at 1 p.m. The Shorewomen advanced to the Final Four by edging visiting McDaniel 11-10 in the tournament's opening round on Wednesday.

The winners of the two semifinal matchups will do battle on Sunday at 1 p.m. for the conference crown and automatic bid to the national tournament.