Pioneers Best Bobcats in Final Seconds, 10-9

FAIRFIELD, CT (April 13, 2012) - Sacred Heart sophomore Kelsey Russo (Lindenhurst, NY) scored four goals but assisted on the most important goal of the afternoon, setting up senior Aurelie Pluijmakers (Freehold, NJ) for the game-winner with six seconds left to beat Northeast Conference rival Quinnipiac 10-9 Friday afternoon.  The Pioneers earn their third-straight win and improve to 5-2 in the NEC while handing the Bobcats their first conference loss of the season at 6-1.

Russo matched her season-high with four goals and added four ground balls, two caused turnovers and a draw win to her game-totals.  The sophomore midfielder play a critical role in the games deciding possession, drawing a pair of 8-meter attempts in the final seconds to set up the game-winner.  Junior Emily Pepe (East Quogue, NY) scored two goals with an assist.  Freshman Kelsey Keenan (Wantagh, NY) turned in 11 saves to earn the win in cage.

The two teams played a dead even first half in almost every statistical category but QU would lead on the scoreboard 4-3 at the break.  Both teams got off 10 shots a piece, had seven grounders each with SHU turning it over nine times to Quinnipiac's eight.  The Bobcats got the scoring started 1:57 in to play as Lianne Toomey scored her first of three goals off a feed from NEC assist leader Sarah Allen who dished out four helpers on the day.

The Pioneers went back-to-back off the sticks of Russo and Pepe for a 2-1 lead at 25:43.  Quinnipiac's Devon Gibney tied it with an unassisted goal at 15:39 but Russo gave SHU back the lead at 3-2 just over seven minutes later with her second.  The Bobcats closed out the half keeping SHU off the scoreboard for the final 8:27 while tacking on two more for a 4-3 lead at the half.

A great individual effort by SHU senior Kate Kmiotek (Farmingville, NY) knotted the game at 4-4 just 1:37 into the second half.  QU answered back lest than a minute later but consecutive goals by freshman Taylor Babin (Ellicot City, MD) and Russo put SHU back in front, 6-5, with 24:49 on the clock.  QU's Marissa Caroleo and Toomey posted goals at 20:05 and 19:32 for the sixth lead change of the afternoon and a 7-6 lead.

The Pioneers scored 58 seconds later and ran off a three goal run over the next four minutes to take a two-goal lead.  Pepe and Russo posted unassisted markers and Kmiotek buried a Pepe feed for her second of the day and a 9-7 lead with 14:44 to play.

Kyra Ochwat answered with her first of two-straight just 59 seconds later to pull within 9-8.  It would be nearly 10 minutes between her scores as she delivered on an 8-meter attempt with 4:21 left to knot it at 9-9.   SHU sophomore Samantha Villafranca (Wading River, NY) won the ensuing draw and the Pioneers elected to hold the ball for the until using a time out with 58 seconds left to come up with a final play.

Russo got loose and headed for goal where she drew a fouled and an 8-meter attempt with 10 seconds left.  On the whistle, Russo was fouled again looking for her shot and set up for a second attempt with eight seconds left.  On the restart, Russo found Pluijmakers waiting on the left post for a pass and finish for a 10-9 lead and the win.  QU's Caroleo won the ensuing draw but the Bobcats could not get a final shot off before the final horn.

The Pioneers will turn around and play their final non-conference game Saturday night at Brown.  Opening draw is at 6:00 pm.