FAIRFIELD, CT (April 20, 2012) - The Sacred Heart women's lacrosse team needed to stave off a late Bryant rally on their way to an 11-10 Northeast Conference win on Friday night at Campus Field. The win sets up a showdown for the final NEC Tournament spot going to the winner of Sunday's regular season finale with Central Connecticut State.
The Pioneers (7-8, 6-2 NEC) got two goals each from seniors Kate Kmiotek (Farmingville, NY) and Katilin Rochler (Wading River, NY), junior Emily Pepe (East Quogue, NY) and sophomore Kelsey Russo (Lindenhurst, NY). Pepe added four assists to her totals and will head into Sunday's finale with season needing just one assist to tie the school record for assists in a season, set by Mary Montesarchio in 2008 (38).
The Bulldogs (5-10, 4-4 NEC) got four goals from Lauren Sheridan who nearly single handly lifted her team back with three-straight unassisted goals over the final 12:39 to pull Bryant within a goal.
Bryant opened the game scoring four goals on their first four shots and led 4-2 just 4:49 into the game. From there, the Pioneer defense kept the Bulldogs off the scoreboard for the remaining 25:21 of the first half and built a 7-4 lead with a five-goal run. Pepe started teh rally at 22:30 and ended it with six seconds to play before the halftime horn. In between, she set up the three other goals, feeding senior Alyssa Dorsey (Farmingdale, NY), Rochler and freshman Taylor Babin (Ellicott City, MD).
The Pioneers made it six-straight goals as Russo opened the second half with an 8-meter goal just 59 seconds into play. Bryant ended their drought with an 8-meter goal at 26:53 off the stick of Olivia McCarthy. Kmiotek answered with one of her own just 51 seconds later. McCarthy again answered a the SHU goal, scoring two minutes later to cut the lead to 9-6.
Kmiotek scored on a strong individual effort at 18:30 to push the lead to 10-6 but Bryant again quickly answered 15 seconds later off the draw on a Mary Green 8-meter score. Rochler provided the Pioneers their last goal of the night, scoring off a Kmiotek feed at 13:21 to extend the lead to 11-7.
The Bulldogs went to work in the draw circle and Sheridan made SHU pay, racking up three-straight scores including markers at 4:15 and 3:15 to pull within 11-10. The Bulldogs would get a crack at tying the score as Haley Bloom earned a free-position attempt with 1:44 to go. SHU goalie Kelly Keenan (Wantagh, NY) made her sixth save of the night and scooped up the loose ball as the Pioneers would successfully clear and run off the remaining time to perserve the win.
Sacred Heart will host CCSU on Sunday at 1:00 pm. The winner will clinch the final spot in the tournament field and join Quinnipiac, Mount St. Mary's and Monmouth while the loser will see their season end. A Pioneer win combined with a Quinnipiac loss to Bryant would give the Pioneers a share of the regular season title and the #1 seed. A SHU win combined with a Quinnipiac win over the Bulldogs would give the Pioneers the #2 seed and QU the top-seed and regular season title.