SALEM, Va. - Beating the same opponent three times in the same season is usually a dicey challenge.
But the Adelphi women's lacrosse team completed its second three-game sweep of the 2015 season Saturday, topping Le Moyne, 10-5, at Kerr Stadium in an NCAA Division II semifinal. That's earned the Panthers the right to play for their second straight national championship Sunday.
They will play Lock Haven (Pennsylvania), an 11-6 winner over Lindenwood (Missouri) yesterday.
Adelphi (20-1) had played Le Moyne (18-4) in the final Northeast-10 Conference game of the regular season. The Panthers won that game, 15-6, then beat the Dolphins, 14-5, in the conference tournament final a little more than a week later.
Also in the last month, Adelphi played and beat Stonehill on three occasions. Those two teams represent six of the Panthers' last eight opponents.
"It's exciting to see someone strange," Adelphi coach Pat McCabe said of Sunday's final. "I think it will be an interesting matchup. We'll do our best to study what they do, but we're a lot more about what we do.
"We believe we can do our thing better than how you do yours."
That's how McCabe said his team prepared for the Dolphins, ranked second in the Division II Northern Region.
"These were very familiar opponents, and there was a tremendous amount of respect from one side to the other," said McCabe, who took over as head coach in August. "It also makes it a pretty intense atmosphere. We know each other's tendencies. We know the personnel. We knew this was going to be a tough one, and nothing would be easy. And then that's kind of how it went."
McCabe said it is not part of his coaching philosophy to adjust his team's play in fear of reoccurring opponents figuring out his team. Both he and his players said the strategy Saturday was basically the same as it was their whole season.
That meant setting up plenty of scoring opportunities for top scorers Alexa Froccaro and Jacqueline Jahelka. Both scored two goals in the first half, as Adelphi built a 6-2 lead, and finished with three apiece. Jahelka's second score came on a shot from the free position with just over 1 second to play in the half.
"At that point, it was really hot, and we knew both teams were tired," said Rachel Aitkens, who scored twice for Adelphi. "We know that our team is good at containing energy, and we were ready to keep running at the beginning of the second half. We just let our players match up one-on-one with their defenders and we were ready for it."