Fredonia Women’s Lacrosse team, spring 2015
Rarely, if ever, does a Fredonia president report a sports score while wearing academic regalia, but that was exactly what Dr. Virginia Horvath did at 2015’s Commencement — and with good reason.
Her surprise announcement during the May 16 afternoon ceremony that the women’s lacrosse team defeated Washington & Lee in the third round of the NCAA Division III (D-III) Tournament was quickly met by cheers and applause from the audience of thousands that filled Steele Hall Fieldhouse.
That 9-5 victory over the No. 10-ranked school in D-III was just one of many highlights in a memorable season, heralded as the best ever in the team’s 20-year history.
In her inaugural season as head coach, Amy Simon, ’12, led the Blue Devils to their first appearance in the NCAA quarterfinals and cemented the stellar season with a lofty No. 11 ranking in the final NCAA D-III rankings. It’s the highest ranking in program history.
The Blue Devils racked up 17 wins — four more than the previous high — to finish with a 17-4 mark. Three of their four losses were to teams that advanced to the NCAA final four. A 16-9 loss to Franklin and Marshall, the two-time national champion which was ranked No. 3 nationally, ended Fredonia’s season on May 17.
A week earlier, Fredonia hosted an NCAA Second Round game against Denison, which the Blue Devils won impressively, 10-5. It was the team’s third NCAA home game in the past four years.
As remarkable as its team accolades were, individual performances were the icing on the cake.
Katie Kleine, a senior and Second Team All-American, picked up four assists in the final game to raise her career scoring to 291 points, a new school record. She also set three more school marks: 197 draws, 132 caused turnovers, and 138 career assists.
Fellow senior and Second Team All-American Marissa Cussins picked up two more goals in the finale to give her a team-best 64 for the season (an average of more than three per game). Her 90 points set a single-season school record and gave her 273 career points, third on the all-time list.
Kleine and Cussins were named to the 2015 Empire All-Region Team by the Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association. It was a case of “been there, done that” for the pair who, along with fellow seniors Shelby DePew and Katie Glagolev, chose to miss their graduation ceremony in exchange for a shot at the national title. Kleine was named to the All-Region First Team in four consecutive seasons — the first Fredonian so honored — and Cussins was a three-time selection.
Coach Simon clearly knows what it takes to be a winner. She took over the program from Chris Case, ’01, who successfully guided the team during the previous 12 seasons and recruited Simon, then a senior at Amherst (N.Y.) High School, to Fredonia. Simon is considered by some to be the best player in Fredonia history; she finished her Blue Devil playing career as the all-time leader in goals, 242, and points, 286. Kleine and Cussins were freshmen and teammates of Simon’s during her senior year.