Lions suffer season-ending loss in overtime; Skidmore knocks College out of national tournament

Senior midfielder Leah Geissler controls the ball against a Thoroughbread. (Tom O’Dell / Photo Editor)

A year ago she was just a lacrosse player and had no intentions of ever suiting up for the College’s field hockey team.

Many wins later, sophomore forward Kathleen Notos isn’t just a lacrosse player anymore.

The presence of Notos has played a big role for the Lions all season, but especially this week as they played two matches in the NCAA Division III Tournament.

Notos brought her A-game as she recorded a hat trick on Nov. 10 when the Lions took down the University of New England 4-0 and then added another goal in the Lions’ 3-2 overtime loss to Skidmore College on Nov. 13.

Although Notos was just a first-year player, she was able to step up defensively as well as offensively as the Lions came out of the opening round of the NCAA Division III Tournament with a victory.

“All over the field she played great,” head coach Sharon Pfluger said. “She really created a lot for us in the midfield, she had great pressure on the ball and she was up on attack with her goal scoring. She really had a complete game all the way around from one end of the field to the other.”

The rest of the Lions also helped suffocate the Nor’easters offense, which only managed two shots-on-cage.

“Everyone was backing each other up,” junior goalkeeper Shannon Syciarz said. “We had a lot of strong sticks in the backfield, so the defense was on today.”

The Lions other goal of the match came from junior defender Alex Okuniwitcz, who was part of a Lions offensive effort that put 10 shots towards the cage.

“I thought we played really strong,” Mitchell said. “We played a really strong six on defense and we had a good effort towards goal, so it was a complete game for us.”

The Lions brought a similar effort in their next match, but it wasn’t enough to overcome Skidmore College.

Notos scored a goal for the Lions in the first half, while senior midfielder Leah Geissler capitalized on a penalty corner seven minutes into the second half.

However, the Thoroughbreds were able to trade goals with the Lions and matched their level of play every step of the way, which ultimately forced overtime.

Seven minutes into the extra period senior forward Christine Kemp ended the match with a swing of her stick.

Kemp’s initial shot was saved by Syciarz — who finished with 11 saves — but Kemp was able to cash in on her own rebound.

The second-round loss to the Thoroughbreds ended the Lions season and put their final record at 17-5.

Notos, however, is able to look back on a season that wasn’t exactly planned.

“I gave up on (getting her on the team),” Pfluger said. “Then she came to me in the spring when she was playing lacrosse and said, ‘Coach, I’m going to play hockey.’ I said, ‘Are you sure?’ She said ‘Yeah.’”

Notos got into a groove early on in the season scoring her first career goal and recording an assist in only her second match on way to a 3-1 victory over King’s College.

That match would only be the first of a slew of productive matches on the season for Notos, who finished the season as the team’s leading scorer with 17 goals and 40 points.

Those numbers were enough for the New Jersey Athletic Conference to select Notos as the Rookie of the Year.

“I would have never thought that I would have been here,” Notos said. “Last year I was the stats girl, but this is just been great.”

Beside Notos earning NJAC Rookie of the Year, the Lions also had junior forward Leigh Mitchell named NJAC Attack Player of the Year and Syciarz named NJAC Goalkeeper of the Year.

“It just shows that in different areas of the field they stood out,” Pfluger said. “Shannon’s been our starting goalie for three years, Kathleen has been a great addition to the program and Leigh is the experience that we missed so much last year because she was out.”