THE MATCHUP: The Lyons head to Montclair State University for an NCAA Tournament Second Round match-up against the Red Hawks - the nation and tournament's top-ranked team. Game time is set for 11am on Saturday on Sprague Field. This is just the second meeting between the two schools. MSU holds the advantage with a 3-1 win over the Lyons to close out the 2006 season.
THIRD TIME'S A CHARM: This weekend's game marks the third Second Round appearance in the NCAA Tournament for the Lyons, who previously earned bids in 2001 and 2003 following championship victories in the NEWMAC tournament.
BACK TO THE BEGINNING: Saturday's game marks the second time in MHC history that head coach Andy Whitcomb has coached against her former squad. Whitcomb, who served as the head coach of the Red Hawks from 1996 till 1997, led Montclair State to a 19-17 record. In two years, the program broke school records for wins in a season, goals in a season, shutouts and longest winning streak. Additionally, Whitcomb collected NJAC Coach of the Year honors in 1997 before departing for Mount Holyoke.
THE MOUNT HOLYOKE LYONS: Mount Holyoke (18-2, 7-1 NEWMAC) enters Saturday's action following a 5-2 victory over Gwynedd-Mercy in the First Round of the NCAA Tournament. Four different players found the back of the net for the Lyons, starting with sophomore Julia Bell, who got MHC on the board late in the opening half. The Lyons opened the second half with a bang as junior Diana Banmann and first year Charlotte Wagner each scored. Despite the lead, the visting Griffins battled back to make it a 3-2 contest. Wagner added her second goal of the contest and junior captain Kirsten Kilburn scored on a penalty stroke to cap the game's offense. In goal, first year Liz DiCesare stopped seven shots to move to 18-2 and earn the decision in Mount Holyoke's first-ever NCAA field hockey victory.
INSIDE THE LYONS' DEN: Mount Holyoke is led in scoring by Banmann, a NEWMAC All-Conference First Team honoree. A starter in all 20 games, she has tallied 32 goals with four assists for 68 points. She has also recorded team-best numbers in shots (128), shots on goal (95) and game-winning goals (7). Additionally, Banmann entered the week as the national Division III leader in goals per game (1.63) and was fourth in points per game (3.42). Kilburn, who is also a NEWMAC First Team honoree, is second on the squad in scoring, posting 57 points on a squad-best 19 assists and 19 goals. Kilburn entered the week's action ranked second in the nation and continues to lead the conference in assists per game (1.00). Defensively, Mount Holyoke has been anchored by DiCesare, who owns the NEWMAC's best record at 18-2. She sports a 1.16 goals against average and a .831 save percentage. She has made 98 stops on the season and is fourth in save percentage among the nation's best.
SCOUTING THE RED HAWKS: Montclair State (20-1, 5-1 NJAC) enters the tournament having won 10 straight since suffering its lone loss of the year at Rowan on October 5. Included in those victories are two wins over ninth-ranked The College of New Jersey, the second a 1-0 win in Saturday's NJAC Championship contest that gave Montclair its second consecutive conference crown. Sophomore forward Maura Johnston had the lone goal for MSU scoring with 16:28 remaining. Sophomore goalkeeper Rebecca Brattole made that stand up making seven saves for the shutout giving Montclair State its 20th victory of the year. Jennifer Tafro leads Montclair State in scoring with 51 points on 20 goals and 11 assists recording double digits in both categories for a second straight year.
NEXT UP: The winner of Saturday's game will advance to Sunday's Third Round - Regional Final. That contest will begin at 1pm.