Top-seeded Cardinals welcome Scranton on Wednesday in semis

Top-seeded Cardinals welcome Scranton on Wednesday in semis

WASHINGTON – After completing its fourth undefeated Landmark Conference regular season in the last five years, the CUA women's lacrosse team will begin its quest for a fifth straight conference title on Wednesday.  The Cardinals will open the tournament as the top seed and play host to No. 4 Scranton.

After getting off to a slow start this season, CUA has rebounded nicely to win 10 of its last 11 games, including five in a row.  The Cardinals have dominated their Landmark Conference competition, outscoring opponents 68-34 in four wins.

Leading the CUA offense is All-American Mary Swarthout, who has scored 53 goals and handed out 24 assists.  Classmate Mallory Vogel has had a terrific senior season as well, scoring 36 goals and dishing out 20 assists, while Meghan Brady, yet another senior, has also found the back of the net 36 times.

Katie Miller (27), Lindsay Brophy (22), Mary Robinson (17), Erin Fowler (15), Gretchen Wade (12) and Caroline DiBartolomeo (11) have all scored double-digit goals, with Brophy and Miller joining Swarthout and Vogel with double-digit assists.

In addition to her scoring prowess, Swarthout also paces the Cards in ground balls (56), draw controls (95) and caused turnovers (28). 

Brophy ranks second on the squad in ground balls with 40, while Kelly Neligan and Caroline Scalamandre have won 38 draw controls apiece and Meghan Murray has caused 17 turnovers.

In goal, Head Coach Meghan McDonogh has a pair of talented keepers to choose from, in freshman Tricia Pehnke and sophomore Yasmeen Ajdari.  Both Cardinal goalkeepers have been honored by the Landmark Conference as Defensive Player of the Week this season and the duo has combined for 81 saves in nearly 700 minutes of action.

CUA has never lost a Landmark Conference Tournament game.  The Cards defeated Goucher and Drew last season to capture their fourth straight conference title and NCAA Tournament bid.

Scranton enters the 2012 tournament with an overall record of 11-6, but just 1-3 in the conference.  The Cardinals and Royals played this past weekend, and CUA raced past its counterpart 18-5 in Pennsylvania. 

Kerry Sullivan is the team's leading scorer with 48 goals and 58 points, while Jilliana DePaolera has added 35 goals and 17 assists.  Shannon Howe's 46 ground balls leads the team, as do Emily Gross' 43 draw controls.

Kathleen Smart has started all 17 games in goal for the Royals, stopping 120 shots in nearly 800 minutes of action.  Scranton fell to Drew in last year's semifinal round of the tournament.  This will be the Royals third appearance all-time in the Landmark Tournament.

Wednesday's game will begin at 4 p.m.  Should CUA win, it will host the championship game on Saturday, May 5 inside Cardinal Stadium.