Cardinals capture ECAC championship with 2-1 win over Drew

Cardinals capture ECAC championship with 2-1 win over Drew

WASHINGTON – Junior Mary Swarthout scored a pair of goals and the CUA defense was once again very strong in lifting the Cardinals to a 2-1 win over Drew in the 2010 ECAC championship game on Sunday inside Cardinal Stadium.  The victory is CUA's program record 17th as the Cardinals finish their season with a title.

"It's feels awesome to finish a great season like this with a win," said an elated Gia Cillizza after the game.  "To have the best record in school history and finish it off with a championship is the best way to end our season."

She continued, "We knew this team was special going all the way back to preseason, and they knew it as well, and today they had a chance to prove it.  I can't say enough about the wonderful senior class we have; I'm extremely proud of them and happy for them.  That is a group of ten special young women who got to enjoy a championship in their final season together and to share in it with everyone."

The teams showed why they were the last two standing in the championship round, as the game was close throughout.  CUA took just five shots, while Drew was also credited with five.  The Rangers had ten penalty corners and the Cardinals seven.

For CUA, freshman Alison Dillard had another strong performance as she stopped three shots in goal, while Drew goalkeeper Christiana Carlini sent back two shots for the visitors.  "I thought Alison played great," Cillizza said.  "She stepped into some critical games for us down the stretch and performed very well."

Cillizza continued, "You never know when you're going to get an opportunity and to her credit she kept working and working, and her time finally came and she was ready.  It's exciting to see her do so well and our other goalkeepers were extremely supportive of Alison, which was great."

As has been the case throughout the 2010 season, CUA jumped out to an early lead on Sunday as Swarthout found the back of the cage just 3:51 into the contest off a Tracey Scanlon assist.  The score came off a penalty corner and put the Cardinals on top 1-0 in the early going.

Drew's first shot came at the 6:25 mark from Sarah Charles, but her attempt was wide.  The teams then traded penalty corners before Swarthout looked to increase CUA's lead with a shot at the 13:36 mark.  Carlini stopped the attempt though and the score remained 1-0.

Meredith Chandler's shot at the 17:33 mark for CUA was also stopped by Carlini, but Drew was not so fortunate on the Cardinals next attempt.  The shot came from Swarthout with under four to play in the half and it found the back of the cage for a 2-0 CUA lead.  Senior captain Andrea Baick assisted on what was Swarthout's 17th goal of the season.

After a rather uneventful opening 12 minutes of the second half, Drew sliced CUA's lead in half when Kati Eggert beat Dillard with a shot off a penalty corner.  Samantha Calabrese assisted on the goal, setting up an intense final 22 minutes.

At the 57:23 mark Megan Howlett looked for the equalizer for Drew, but Dillard made the save.  The Rangers were then awarded back-to-back corners, but nothing came of it as the CUA defense continually turned the visitors away.

Following a save of a Chandler shot at the 64:06 mark, Drew called timeout as the Rangers looked to pull even.  It was not to be though, as the Cardinals defense was more than up to the challenge and held Drew without a shot for the remainder of the contest. 

As the final seconds ticked off the clock, members of the CUA team began to realize the championship was theirs, and once the horn sounded the Cardinals rushed the field and the celebration was on.

Senior captain Liz Grumbein received the Most Outstanding Player award after once again leading the way for the Cardinals stingy defense.

"It was a very tough day last weekend (at the Landmark Conference championship) for everyone associated with our program," Cillizza said.  "I'm impressed with the way we bounced back, though.  We picked ourselves up and made it through three very tough games against three strong teams, and I think that says a lot about the character of this team.  They're a special group, that's for sure."