Landmark Spring To Conclude With Four Championships
MADISON, N.J. – The Landmark Conference spring season will conclude with four sports holding conference championships this weekend. Champions will be crowned in baseball, women's lacrosse, men's lacrosse and softball at four different sites.
The men's and women's lacrosse championships will both feature matchups of the top-two seeds as Goucher College hosts Drew University in the men's final in Towson, Md. while The Catholic University of America welcomes Susquehanna University in Washington, D.C. for the women's lacrosse title both on Saturday. Moravian College will serve as the host for the double-elimination baseball championship beginning on Saturday with Drew, Catholic, and the United States Merchant Marine Academy. The softball double-elimination competition gets underway on Friday with Susquehanna hosting Moravian, The University of Scranton and Catholic. The winners of the baseball, men's lacrosse and women's lacrosse postseasons will all earn an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Competition begins with softball on Friday as Susquehanna will serve as the host of the Landmark double-elimination softball for the first time after Moravian served as the host for the first four years of Landmark competition. Susquehanna enters as the number-one seed and will face fourth-seed Catholic, while Moravian earned the number two seed and will take on third-seed Scranton in the other first-round matchup. Susquehanna was 8-6 at home during the regular season but swept its final regular season series to clinch the top seed. They are led offensively by senior outfielder Lisa Finizio whose .469 average ranks second in the conference. Moravian has claimed all four Landmark championships and led the conference in runs scored and runs allowed during the regular season. Jenna Carmon's 17 wins leads all conference performers as she anchors the pitching staff, and the freshmen duo of Jenn Dalickas and Dior George have added punch to the Greyhounds offense. Scranton is in the postseason for the fourth time in five seasons, this time under the direction of first-year Head Coach Mia Collarini. The Royals have also benefitted from a slugging freshman as Caitlin McHenry leads the Landmark in batting average and slugging percentage. Hurler Christine Capalbo leads the Royals' pitching staff with her 1.87 ERA and 69 strikeouts which both rank third in the conference. Catholic reached the final game of the postseason last year and will be trying to go one step further this season. The infield pairing of Taylor Stockinger and Megan Rizzi is arguably the best in the conference while Kerri Apicella and Erin McMakin also give the Cardinals a formidable pitching pairing. The Landmark softball postseason has consistently provided drama as the past two editions featured four extra-inning games and 10 games decided by three runs or fewer.
Drew (13-3) at Goucher (16-1) in men's lacrosse provides just the second one-seed versus two-seed in Landmark men's lacrosse postseason history, with the first coming in the inaugural postseason in 2008. That was also a matchup of Goucher and Drew, which Drew won to claim the first Landmark title. These two teams combined for an 11-1 record in the Landmark this season with Drew's only loss coming to Goucher by an 18-8 score. Goucher has dropped just one match all season and has risen to 10th in the USILA Division III rankings and is making its third-straight appearance in the Landmark title match, and its fourth in five seasons. The team completed only the second unbeaten conference regular season in Landmark men's lacrosse history, with the first coming in 2010 when the Gophers earned the conference title. Drew's semifinal win over Scranton established a new program record for wins in a season. The Rangers are led by Sean McGowan who leads NCAA Division III in face off percentage while also ranking in the top-10 in the Landmark in points. Scott Humphreys leads the team in goals, while defender Dominick Reda is among the Landmark leaders in caused turnovers and ground balls. Goucher features a dominant attack duo of Kyle Boncaro and Rory Averett who have totaled 137 points this season. Midfielder Matt Lynch is also an offensive threat with a Landmark-best 35 assists and goalkeeper Connor Mishaw is fourth in NCAA Division III in save percentage.
The double-elimination baseball tournament will begin on Saturday in Bethlehem, Pa. with Moravian serving as the host for the third-consecutive year. The top-seeded Greyhounds will face fourth-seed Drew in the opening game, with third-seed Catholic taking on number-two seed USMMA in the other. Moravian has finished atop the regular season standings the past three years, claiming the title in 2010. Senior shortstop Dave Zubia powers the team's offense as he hit a remarkable .603 in 18 Landmark games. The addition of freshman Chris Lansberry has bolstered a team pitching staff that already featured reigning Landmark Pitcher of the Year Brendan Close. USMMA is back in the Landmark postseason for the first time since 2009 when the team reached the title game. The Mariners improved by six victories in Landmark play this season and have allowed the second-fewest runs in Landmark play. Andrew Martin leads the team with a 3.60 ERA and three wins in conference play, while the team slugged a Landmark-best 12 home runs, with the versatile Dustin Thomsen belting five. Catholic has enjoyed unprecedented success in the Landmark postseason, winning three of four conference titles including last season. Freshman Colin McCarthy and second baseman Tim Mierzwa pace the team's offensive attack while the deep pitching staff is led by Andrew Carroll who had a team-best six wins during the regular season. Drew is making its first appearance in the Landmark postseason after improving by eight conference wins to finish the year 9-9. Outfielder Michael Bodden hit .290 and led the Landmark with 19 stolen bases on the year to propel the Drew offense, while Pat Rock pitched 29 innings of relief with a 1.24 ERA and a Landmark-best five saves.
Catholic (13-5) will be searching for a fifth-straight women's lacrosse championship as the Cardinals host second-seed Susquehanna (15-1). It is the first Landmark final for the Crusaders who finished 3-1 in Landmark play and 15-1 overall after winning only seven matches last season. The team's only loss came against Catholic as the Cardinals claimed a 13-9 victory in the regular season meeting between the two teams. The Crusaders are actually 6-0 on the road this season and after an 18-5 win over Drew in the Landmark semifinals have outscored opponents 263-136 for the season. This is Susquehanna's third appearance in the Landmark postseason, and first in the final, while Catholic has claimed the first four Landmark titles with three of them coming as the top seed. Catholic topped Susquehanna in the semifinals of the first Landmark postseason in the team's only previous postseason encounter. After opening the season 2-4, Catholic has won 11 of its last 12 matches, including a 14-11 win over Scranton in the semifinals to reach the championship match. The two teams ranked first and second in the Landmark in scoring average and scoring defense. Susquehanna's stingy defense is keyed by goalkeeper Emily Stankaitis who currently ranks first in NCAA Division III in save percentage. Midfielder Michelle McGinniss plays a key role in the Crusader midfield as she leads the Landmark with 115 draw controls and has also poured in 42 goals, joining with second-leading Landmark goal scorer Emma Ehler to power the Crusader offense. Catholic's offense starts with reining Landmark Player of the Year and All-American Mary Swarthout whose 81 points (56 goals, 25 assists) are tops in the conference. Meghan Brady also ranks in the top-10 in scoring in the conference, while the team's defense leads the conference in goals against average and has senior defender Meghan Murray leading the defensive unit.
The Scranton women's tennis team , the Drew men's tennis team and the Moravian men's and women's outdoor track & field have already won Landmark championships this spring. Last season the Landmark sent six teams to the NCAA Championships and sent 10 athletes to the NCAA Division III Track & Field Championships.