FAIRFIELD, CT (April 27, 2012) - The top-seeded Sacred Heart Pioneers were eliminated from the 2012 Northeast Conference Tournament Friday afternoon, falling to Mount St. Mary's 7-4 in the semifinals on Campus Field. The Pioneers end their season with an 8-9 record while the Mount improves to 8-10 and moves on to face Monmouth in Sunday's Championship.
The Mount shut out Sacred Heart in the first half of Friday's first semifinal match-up, building a 5-0 lead into halftime. The Pioneers trailed 7-1 with just over 16 minutes left but a late three-goal run wasn't enough as they finished with just four goals matching their season low. Mountaineer goalie Brigid McTavish turned away 10 of the Pioneers 17 shots to earn the win in cage.
Jen Semler scored twice and assisted on another to help guide the Mount to their 5-0 first half lead. Semler opened the scoring at 24:35 and added her second at 12:24, both unassisted. She set up teammate Lindsay Diaz for a 4-0 lead at 10:14 and Mount's Esther Rufolo closed out the first half scoring with a marker at 5:10. McTavish turned in six of her 10 saves over the first 30 minutes of action.
The Pioneers ended their scoring drought as senior Kaitlin Rochler (Wading River, NY) buried a feed from classmate Kate Kmiotek (Farmingville, NY) just 47 seconds into the second half. The Mount quickly answered to snuff out a potential SHU rally as Erin Seipp scored 55 seconds later and Kaitlyn Larrimore found the twice at 16:13 to push the lead to 7-1.
SHU tacked on three more goals off the sticks of Katie Gerhard (Centennial, CO), Emily Pepe (East Quogue, NY) and Kelsey Russo (Lindenhurst, NY), but could get no closer. The Mount controlled much of the play while winning eight of the 13 draws and outshooting the Pioneers 25-17 in the win. Freshman goalie Kelly Keenan (Wantagh, NY) posted eight saves for the Pioneers in cage.
In the first 14 years of NEC women's lacrosse, only one other #4 seed has ever upset the top seed in the semifinal round. The Mount also completed the task in 2003 when they beat Monmouth 15-7. The Mountaineers will play in their sixth NEC Championship Game and second-consecutive title game on Sunday afternoon on Campus Field.
In the second semifinal game, the #3 seeded Monmouth Hawks upset #2 seed and defending NEC Champion Quinnipiac, 9-4. Monmouth and Mount St. Mary's will clash for the league title on Campus Field on Sunday afternoon. Opening draw is 1:00 pm.