PITTSFORD - Marissa Cussins scored with 59 seconds left in the second overtime to lift Fredonia State past nationally ranked St. John Fisher, 14-13, Friday in women's lacrosse.
"There was a little bit of a revenge factor," Fredonia State head coach Chris Case said. "From what I saw today, we got off to a bit of a slow start. I was impressed because our team just slowly crawled their way back in, especially because we made so many unforced errors early in the game."
The goal by Cussins was her seventh of the game and came on the only possession by the Blue Devils (2-0) during the second OT period. Two saves by senior goalkeeper Casey Chiesa, the first one on a free-possession shot, kept Fisher off the board just prior to the winning shot.
"In overtime, we stepped up and made some key stops," Case said. "Fisher had a chance to win it and they turned it over. Defensively, we really came through in critical moments. The team was so excited to get such a great win early in the season against such a great team and we're thrilled to see where it goes from here."
After the second save, Chiesa turned the ball over while trying to begin a clear. As she raced back to her net, the Blue Devil defense slowed the Fisher offense and enabled Katie Kleine to cause a turnover and pass ahead to Cussins, who then ran through defenders to get off her shot.
"(Katie) Keine was incredible," Case said. "Marissa Cousins had an outstanding day, seven goals and two assists. Fisher just never found a way to stop her today. With her playing hurt, I thought it was a pretty impressive performance by her."
In addition to her seven goals, Cussins also had two assists and four ground balls, three draw controls and two caused turnovers.
Kleine and Katie Glagolev had two goals each while Rachael Reinis, Erin Edson and Kaila Fox each had one goal. Kleine led the Blue Devils with five ground balls.
St. John Fisher came into the game ranked No. 14 in NCAA Division III. The Blue Devils are unranked.
The host Cardinals led by as many as three goals twice in the first half. The Blue Devils erased their deficit with a 5-0 run early in the second half, including a man-up goal by Cussins with 18:02 left to give Fredonia State its first lead, 9-8.
The teams traded goals the rest of the second half, which ended in a 13-13 tie. Neither team scored during the first six-minute overtime and the Cardinals appeared poised to pull out the victory in the second overtime, only to have Chiesa make two key saves. She finished with eight saves in the game.
The game was a rematch of Fisher's 9-8 overtime victory over the Blue Devils last May in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Fredonia State is back in action at 5 p.m. today at Nazareth. Both games this weekend are part of the Flower City Cup in conjunction with Coaches vs. Cancer.
New season opens with trip to Clermont, Fla.
The 2013 Fredonia State softball season starts March 21 with the team trip to Clermont, Fla. After finishing 16-16-1 in 2012, the Blue Devils have greater expectations this season.
Head coach Nicole Loudin is entering her second season and believes the talent on the team exceeds how they finished last season.
Nine players are returning in 2013 - four starters and three senior pitchers. Senior co-captains Tina Schwartzmeyer and Anne Wasik are returning starters and will be relied upon to lead the Blue Devils. Schwartzmeyer was an All-SUNYAC shortstop in 2010 and has a .310 career batting average. Wasik, last year's starting right fielder, who has also seen time at second base, was named SUNYAC Player of the Week twice last season. In 2012 she batted .330 with 18 RBIs, most by a returning player.
Senior center fielder Katie Bartkowiak (Fredonia/Fredonia) carries a .429 career batting average into the 2013 season and is among the Fredonia State all-time leaders in several statistical categories. The 2009 SUNYAC Rookie of the Year and three-time All-SUNYAC player, Bartkowiak is third with 145 career hits, 24 shy of the school record held by Heather Mercer (2001-04) and two behind Jen Grabowski (2002-05). Bartkowiak is also second all-time in runs scored with 87, second in stolen bases with 47 and fourth in total bases with 200. She batted .400 last season and was named to the National Fastball Coaches Association's Northeast Region Third Team.
Loudin emphasized that Bartkowiak will need to stay consistent, get on base, and make plays for the Blue Devils to be successful.
The fourth returning starter is sophomore catcher Jess Lauck. She started 18 games last season as a freshman and gained valuable experience in handling college pitchers and calling her own games.
The Blue Devils have experience in the circle - all three pitchers are academic seniors.
Alyssa Brognano, in her third collegiate season, was the 2011 SUNYAC Rookie of the Year and is 14-5 over two seasons with a 2.35 earned run average. Danielle Shelp, the Blue Devils' third captain, has been used both as a starter and reliever since her freshman year and has a 10-4 record in 35 appearances. Raela Wiley-Delp has made 20 of 21 appearances in relief the past two seasons as a Blue Devil for a 7-1 record and 2.22 ERA.
"All three pitchers have been on fire and looked good during practices," Loudin said. "There isn't one dominant pitcher on the team because each pitcher has a different style and they all pitch very well."
Other returning players are senior infielder Jamie Atkins and sophomore outfielder Kate Nicholson. Atkins was a part-time starter at third base last year after batting .391 in a reserve role as a sophomore. Nicholson, primarily a pinch-runner last season, is making the switch to batting left-handed to take advantage of her speed.
Loudin said that she was happy with the recruiting class. Cherise Gunnell, a sophomore transfer from Mercyhurst University, is a utility player and will play multiple positions. Freshman infielder Alyssa Morgan heads a list of first-year college players. The others are sophomore Kaitlyn Crossan (Dunkirk/Dunkirk), freshman Corinne Christie, Kim Lotocki, twins Madeline Medina and Megan Medina, and Izzy Simon.
Loudin said that the new players all had experience winning on the high school level and should help make up for the loss of 10 players from last year's team, including All-SUNYAC first baseman Michelle Lattner and six other four-year players. Two of the six, Lauren Larson and Ashley LaPorta, will serve as assistant coaches in 2013. Also lost via graduation were Rachel Burrows, Gabrielle Ciccarello, Brittany Lis and Jennifer Tighe.
The Blue Devils are picked for eighth in the SUNYAC coaches' preseason poll.
"The team is more talented than eighth," Loudin said, "and we are confident in being the underdog. The starting lineup will be put together based off what gives us the best opportunity to score runs."
The Blue Devils open their season on March 21 against New England College in Clermont, Fla. They return home to face Oneonta in a doubleheader March 29.