WEST LONG BRANCH, NJ (April 21, 2011) – The late season surge continued on Friday for the Sacred Heart women's lacrosse team as the Pioneers picked-up their fourth-straight win, beating Monmouth on the road 12-6 in Northeast Conference play. The Pioneers improved to 5-3 in the NEC and are tied with the Hawks and Saturday's opponent, Mount St. Mary's for one of the final two Northeast Conference Tournament spots heading into the season finale.
Sacred Heart (6-9, 5-3 NEC) closes out the regular season on Saturday afternoon at Mount St. Mary's. If the Pioneers win, they will clinch a NEC Tournament spot and be the #3 seed. If the Pioneers lose to the Mount they can still qualify for the playoffs as the #4 seed with a Quinnipiac win at Monmouth. A lose at Mount St. Mary's combined with a Monmouth win over the Bobcats would leave the three-time defending champions out of the postseason.
Monmouth (10-6, 5-3 NEC) jumped out front in the opening minutes but the Pioneers would take control over the last 10 minutes of the first half with a five-goal run to grab a lead they would never give up. MU's Carissa Franzi gave the Hawks a 2-0 lead with goals at 27:15 and 26:04. SHU junior Kate Kmiotek (Farmingville, NY) scored the first of three goals to put SHU on the board but Monmouth would lead 3-1 at the 10:57 mark on a Kirstyn Urbas score.
Junior Kaitlin Rochler (Wading River, NY) got the Pioneer offense untracked just 30 seconds later, scoring off a feed from sophomore Emily Pepe (East Quogue, NY). Five minutes came off the clock before the next SHU score but the Pioneers closed the final 5:22 with four markers. Kmiotek and junior Aurelie Pluijmakers (Freehold, NJ) buried unassisted scores and junior Alyssa Dorsey (Massapequa, NY) hit on an 8-meter attempt with just 20 seconds left. SHU took the ensuing draw and raced in for one more as Kmiotek set up Rochler who just beat the horn with one second left to send the Pioneers into the break up 6-3.
Sacred Heart senior Jessica Ingrilli (Wantagh, NY) kept the Pioneer run going to start the second half, extending the lead to 8-3 with goals at 28:10 and 22:12. The Hawks would end a 20:12 stretch with a goal and cut the Pioneer lead to 8-5 as Molly O'Brien and Rachel Feirstein scored back-to-back unassisted goals.
The Pioneer defense went back to work and after Feirstein's goal at 16:09 kept the Hawks off the scoreboard until the 2:36 mark. In between the SHU offense put the game out of reach running off four-straight starting at 11:59 off the stick of freshman Kelsey Russo (Lindenhurst, NY). Kmiotek followed with an 8-meter goal, her third, at 10:54. Ingrilli buried her third with 3:50 left and freshman Shelby Vaccaro (Brightwaters, NY) put the stamp on the win with her first, unassisted, at 2:52.
Kmiotek finished with three goals and two assists and had three caused turnovers and three ground balls with two draw wins. Ingrilli buried three, all coming in the second half, and also picked up four ground balls, caused two turnovers and had two draw controls in the win. Sophomore Megan Pepe (East Quogue, NY) made seven saves in earning the win in goal for the Pioneers.
The regular season finale at the Mount is scheduled for 4:00 pm on Saturday afternoon.