by Jerry Reilly, director of Sports Information
The Blue Devils opened their season March 9 with a 7-5 home win over Wooster – and kept on winning.
Wins over St. John Fisher and then Nazareth in the Flower City Cup/Coaches vs. Cancer tournament preceded a trip to Southern California, where the Blue Devils vanquished, in order, Redlands, Chapman and Occidental.
The 6-0 record earned the Blue Devils their first national acclaim of 2013 on March 26, when the Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association (IWLCA) released its Week 5 NCAA Division III rankings and listed Fredonia State as having “also received votes.”
More wins resulted in more votes until, on April 23, the Blue Devils peaked at No. 14 – the highest ILWCA ranking in program history. They were 14-0 at the time and one of only four D-III teams still unbeaten.
The season began a downward spiral later that day. Early in a game at Brockport, sophomore midfielder Katie Kleine (Cazenovia) – the SUNYAC Rookie of the Year and a SUNYAC and IWLCA Empire Region First Team all-star in 2012 – sustained a season-ending injury. The Blue Devils lost the game and the two that followed – the regular-season finale at No. 4 Cortland and a SUNYAC Tournament semifinal vs. Geneseo. Despite their impressive record and favorable scores in several of the criteria the NCAA uses to rank all teams, the Blue Devils did not receive an at-large berth to this year’s tournament – as they had in 2012 – and their season ended with a 14-3 record (6-2 SUNYAC).
Still, the 14 wins tied the school record for single-season success, including a 6-0 mark at University Stadium. Meanwhile, the IWLCA named Kleine and sophomore midfielder Marissa Cussins (Elmira) to its Empire Region First Team, and senior goalkeeper Casey Chiesa (Baldwinsville) to its Second Team. All three plus junior defender Mary Bruton (Palmyra) were All-SUNYAC choices – Kleine to the First Team; Bruton, Chiesa, and Cussins to the Second Team. In addition, Chiesa and sophomore defender Jenna Cuddeback (Pittsford) made the SUNYAC All-Tournament team, and Kleine was chosen as an ECAC Division III Mid-Atlantic Region all-star.
And in its final D-III poll, IWLCA voters placed the Blue Devils at No. 19. It’s the first time any Fredonia State women’s lacrosse team ended its season ranked in the nation’s Top 20.