The Farmingdale State women's lacrosse team is headed to the NCAA Division III Tournament after yesterday's 9-8 victory over St. Joseph's. A collective whew! was in order for the favored Rams, who had to come back against a team they beat by eight goals April 16.
"We came out here thinking it wouldn't be like that," Farmingdale midfielder Nicole Marzocca said of the final score in the Skyline Conference championship game. "They gave all they had. They came out and they shocked us all."
Marzocca, the team's single season record holder with 104 points, broke a 7-7 tie by scoring her only goal of the game with 13:12 left in the second half. "I was expecting us to get a little more daylight after that," she said, "but they came out just as strong once I got that goal. It was a tough game. A little too close."
Teammate Kimberly Pepe made it 9-7 on a free position shot before Caitlyn Webber brought St. Joseph's within one with eight seconds remaining.
When Farmingdale opened with goals by Jackie Kennedy and Lisa Olen, it appeared reminiscent of the 18-10 game 10 days earlier. But St. Joseph's scored the next four goals, and suddenly it was a 4-2 lead and took on the feel of a closely matched championship game.
St. Joseph's made adjustments from the last meeting and it showed in the first half as the Golden Eagles won eight of 12 draw controls and took a 6-5 lead. "I've seen them play multiple times, I know how good they are," Farmingdale coach Erin Calkins said. "I was actually surprised last game how much we beat them by . . . They definitely stepped up to the challenge today. Thankfully we came out on top."
The effort of St. Joseph's, in only its third season of the sport, pleased coach Bob Vlahakis. "There's nothing here for us to be ashamed of," he said. "Ten days ago they beat us pretty good. I'm so proud they made the adjustments coming back. I'm pinching myself still that we were in this to the last second. We were in it all the way today."
Webber added, "The first year we had kids who didn't even know how to play."
Calkins, a Ward Melville graduate, was an assistant in 2009 when the Rams made their first NCAA appearance. This is her second season as coach. "I've been waiting for this moment for the past six years," she said.
Marzocca, a graduate of North Babylon High School, echoed her coach's sentiment, saying "I can't wait to go."
Selections will be announced next Sunday.