Lightning strikes twice

Denison seniors Cory Couture and Molly Sbrega scored overtime goals to send their respective lacrosse teams to the next round of NCAA postseason play.

Well, these thunderbolts didn’t actually hit in the same place, but they did strike in the same manner — and on the same day.

The stage was set when Denison’s men’s and women’s lacrosse teams both captured berths in the 2012 NCAA Championships — the men by virtue of their No. 8 national ranking, and the women via their automatic bid as conference tournament champions.

The next coincidence was that each team drew highly touted Adrian College (Mich.), a relative newcomer on the national lacrosse scene, in the opening round of the NCAA Division III postseason tournament. The men hosted Adrian in Granville on Wednesday afternoon, while the women traveled to Adrian, just north of the Michigan-Ohio line, to battle the Bulldogs in a Wednesday evening contest.

In both the men’s and women’s matches, Denison had to come from behind to tie the game in the waning moments. And in both contests, a senior stepped up to score the DU’s game-winning goal in overtime. Another interesting note is that the hero for the men, Cory Couture, is a product of Coronado, Calif.; while the heroine for the women, Molly Sbrega, hails from Portland, Maine — two coastal cities separated by more than 3,000 miles.

The men’s match-up was an instant classic, as the physical bout saw Adrian take the lead three times in the second half, only to have Denison re-tie the game on each occasion. The goal taking the game to overtime was an unassisted beauty by Alex Hardt, a senior from Dallas, with only 1:01 remaining in regulation. After a scoreless first extra period, Couture’s sudden-victory heroics came with 3:09 left in the second overtime.

The women’s contest was perhaps even more of a pressure cooker, as the Big Red fell behind by two goals on three separate occasions in the second half, forcing them to continually work to erase the deficit. Down again by two with 3:40 remaining in regulation, Carly Tschantz, a senior from Chicago, scored on a free position to put DU within striking distance. Then, with only four seconds left in the game, Molly Chapman, a first-year from Greenwich, Conn., scored the tying goal on an assist from Lauren Adams, a sophomore from Louisville, Ky., sending the contest into overtime. It was with 45 second left in the extra stanza that Sbrega netted the game-winner on an assist from Alex Thurner, a senior from Cincinnati.

The Big Red men now journey to Lynchburg, Va., to challenge the third-ranked Lynchburg College Hornets (17-1) at 7 p.m. on Saturday (May 12). The women’s season continues in Gettysburg, Pa., as Denison takes on the third-ranked Bullets of Gettysburg College (17-1) in an 11:30 a.m. match on Saturday.

For more about the Denison’s dramatic opening-round victories, including highlights and photos, and the Big Red’s next stop on the NCAA tournament trail, follow the links below to DenisonBigRed.com. Go Big Red!

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