Three seniors to miss graduation for NCAA tourney

GETTYSBURG, Pa. – Last Saturday, minutes after her teammates had defeated Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in the NCAA Division III Tournament, sidelined senior Shelby DePew walked into the Steele Hall Fieldhouse, which was already set up for this year’s graduation ceremony.

It was then, as a joke, she decided to walk up the aisle toward the stage -without the strains of Pomp and Circumstance. With her teammates looking on, DePew completed a walk she, Mary Bruton and Chelsea Maderer will not take Saturday.

Instead, all three are in Gettysburg, Pa., preparing for the Blue Devils’ NCAA third-round game vs. Trinity (Conn.). Game time at Gettyburg College’s Clark Field is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. Saturday.

DePew is here in a support role. She was injured before the fourth game of the year during the Blue Devils’ Florida trip. She had season-ending surgery a few weeks later.

“I’m still part of this team,” said DePew. “(And while) I’ll be here next year, it’s something I want to be part of now. It wasn’t a question of going to graduation or going to the game. I would miss graduation to be in the national tournament any day. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime kind of thing.”

“A lot of people thought I would be upset missing graduation,” Bruton said, “but it really doesn’t faze me like that. This is a huge opportunity. I would much rather be playing in the Sweet 16 than sitting there (in Steele Hall) for three hours waiting to walk across the stage for 30 seconds.”

Bruton has not been one to sit at Fredonia State. She has played two sports – soccer and lacrosse. Her 71 games in women’s lacrosse is a team record – one that she will be adding to Saturday afternoon against Trinity.

Following last Saturday’s win over RPI, she expressed surprise at not making last year’s NCAA field – and equal surprise at getting in this year. The Blue Devils received an at-large bid, just as they did in 2012.

“It was our second chance and we really took hold of it, made the best of it,” Bruton said. “And now we’re here. It’s really exciting and it’s a great way to go out my senior year, especially.”

Like her teammates, Maderer will be happy to be in Gettysburg instead of in Fredonia on Saturday. So will her father, Keith. He will be attending the game while his wife, Lori, will be attending the graduation ceremony of Chelsea’s twin sister, Allysa, at The College at Brockport.

“I think he kind of decided that for them,” she laughed.

Bruton and Maderer will be looked upon to help keep the Trinity offense in check. The Bantams are ranked No. 3 in NCAA Division III and are riding a 12-game winning streak. They have appeared in 10 NCAA tournaments (compared to just two by Fredonia State) and have played in the last two championship games, winning in 2012 and losing to Salisbury last year.

“For the three of us who’ve been here for four years, it’s been kind of crazy to see,” Maderer said. “Freshmen year we didn’t even make playoffs. We have consistently made playoffs since then and have gotten stronger and better each year. Each year it’s like “uh, oh, we’re lost x-person” but somehow we all managed to come together and know our roles. We really have come together as a team and get this far. It remains to be seen just how far.”