Pioneers Open NEC Play at LIU Brooklyn and Wagner

GAME 07 * SACRED HEART AT LIU BROOKLYN * Friday, March 23rd * 4:00 pm

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Game 08 * SACRED HEART AT WAGNER * Sunday, March 25th * 1:00 pm

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Setting the Scene...  The Sacred Heart women's lacrosse team opens up the Northeast Conference schedule this weekend with stops at LIU Brooklyn and Wagner.  The Pioneers are looking to shake off a 1-5 start to their season as they head into league play.  SHU has lost four-straight and are coming off a 15-12 loss at Holy Cross on Sunday.  This will be the NEC opener for the Blackbirds with Wagner heading to Quinnipiac on Friday before taking on the Pioneers on Sunday.

Last Time Out...  Sacred Heart couldn't overcome a 10-5 deficit at halftime on their way to a fourth-straight loss, 15-12, Sunday afternoon at Holy Cross.  Senior Aurelie Pluijmakers turned in a career-high six goals only to be matched by Holy Cross' Sara Hennessey.  The Crusaders out shot SHU 33-21 and collected 22 ground balls.  Senior Kate Kmiotek passed out four assists, matching her career-high.  She also had four assists earlier this season against Niagara and last season against Iona.

Pioneer News & Notes... The Pioneers enter NEC play looking to qualify for the NEC Tournament for the seventh-straight season in 2012...SHU has had no trouble scoring this season, averaging 10.83 goals per game, second in the NEC, but are searching for some conisistency on defense, allowing 14.96 goals per game, seventh in the confernece...The Pioneers lead the NEC in turnovers, averaging 19.67 per game...Junior Emily Pepe is second among league leaders with 26 points, an average of 4.33 per game...Pepe leads the team and is second in the league with 15 assists...Senior Aurelie Pluijmakers has a team-best 13 goals, eighth among NEC leaders (2.17 pg)...Classmate Kaitlin Rochler is on her heels with 12 goals (2.00) and is 10th in the NEC in points per game (3.00)...Sophomore Kelsey Russo ranks fourth in the NEC in the draw circle with 20 draw controls (3.33 pg)...Rookie goalie Kelly Keenan sports a .459 save percentage (5th) and averages 11.17 saves per game (2nd).

All-Time Series vs. LIU Brooklyn...  The Pioneers have never lost to LIU Brooklyn, leading the all-time series 9-0.  The two teams have met every season since 2003 with SHU posting a 5-0 mark at home on Campus Field and a 4-0 record in Brooklyn.

Scouting the Blackbirds...  The LIU Brooklyn Blackbirds are in search of their first win of 2012 coming in at 0-7 on the year.  The Blackbirds are coming off a three-game trip to the left coast, falling to UC Davis, 24-10, Saint Mary's, 19-11, and Fresno State, 17-12.  LIU ranks fourth in the NEC in scoring, averaging 10.43 goals per game but are last allowing 18.57 goals per outing.  Sophomore attacker Shakoya Smith is tied for fourth with 20 goals (2.86 pg).  Smith is ninth among league leaders at 3.14 points per game.  Sophomore midfielder Ashley Delaney is tied for ninth, with 14 goals (2.00 pg).  Sophomore defender Jesenia Cantres is fifth in caused turnovers with 12 on the year (1.71 pg).

All-Time Series vs. Wagner...  SHU leads the all-time series, 9-3.  The series began in 1999 when Sacred Heart became a member of the Northeast Conference.  The Pioneers have won six-straight in the series coming into Sunday's match-up.  SHU is 4-2 at home and 5-1 on the road against the Seahawks.

Scouting the Seahawks...  After an 0-3 start to their season, the Wagner Seahawks are riding a five-game winning streak heading into the first NEC weekend of the season.  The Seahawks return home after road wins at Howard, 19-14, and Presbyterian, 17-10, last week.  Wagner sports the league's top-scoring offense at 11.86 goals per game while also getting off a NEC best 26.57 shots per game.  The Seahawks have also been strong in the draw circle, winning 14.86 per game.  Senior attacker Carolyn Clark is third among league leaders with 21 goals (3.00 pg).  She ranks sixth in points per game (3.43).  Sophomore Sam Morin is right on her heels with 21 goals (2.86 pg) on the year.  Junior Erika Bulken leads the NEC with 45 draw controls and is sixth in the league in assists per game (1.29 pg).  Rookie goalkeeper Shannon Sweeney is second in the NEC with a 9.52 goals against average and a .506 save percentage.

Around the NEC...  Northeast Conference play kicks-off for everyone but Central Connecticut State and Bryant this weekend.  The Blue Devils and Bulldogs met earlier this season with CCSU post a ww win.  Central will be in California this weekend to take on Saint Mary's.  QU will host Wagner and heads to LIU Brooklyn this weekend while Monmouth and Mount St. Mary's play host to Robert Morris and Saint Francis (PA).  Wagner's Lauren Petrik was named this week's NEC Offensive Player of the Week while Bryant's Lauren Filippone earned Defensive honors.  Quinnipiac's Kyra Ochwat and Robert Morris' Erin Mossop shared this week's Rookie Award.

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