April 25, 2010
FAIRFIELD, Conn. (April 25, 2010) - The Sacred Heart women's lacrosse team used a 7-1 second half run to erase a 6-5 Quinnipiac lead on their way to winning their third-straight Northeast Conference Championship Sunday afternoon, 12-7 over the Bobcats. SHU senior goalkeeper Chelsea Wagner (Aurora, CO) made five of her eight saves in the second half to help fuel the Pioneer rally and was named the 2010 NEC Tournament Most Valuable Player.
"I am really proud of how this team stuck together," stated head coach Laura Cook. "I really believe the experience of the last two years is what won it for us today. In a tight game, this group just dug down deep in clutch time and got it done."
"This feels so, so good," stated SHU goalie and tournament MVP Wagner. "What a huge sigh of relief. I am so proud of this team for coming out and getting the three-peat, just so excited."
For the third-straight season, the NEC rival Pioneers and Bobcats faced off for the league's lacrosse championship with SHU claiming the last two at home on Campus Field. The win finishes off a perfect run through the Northeast Conference for Sacred Heart, who ran off an unblemished 9-0 regular season mark. The Pioneers raised their record to 14-4 with their 12th-straight victory as they move on to the 2010 NCAA Play-In Game on Saturday, May 8th at the champion from the Patriot League.
Joining Wagner on this year's Northeast Conference All-Tournament team was senior teammates Carissa Hauser (East Northport, NY), Jackie Pierce (Cortlandt Manor, NY) and Farra Copploa (Wantagh, NY) and junior Elizabeth Drehwing (Wyckoff, NJ).
Quinnipiac (10-7) struck first as leading scorer Katie Latonick found her teammate Lauren Matuszczak right in front of the cage for a 1-0 lead just 1:20 into play. SHU's Hauser helped set up the next two Pioneer goals, feeding senior teammate Pierce. Hauser found Pierce at the left post to tie it at 1-1 at 23:48. The duo hooked-up again just 42 seconds later as Hauser pulled out of an 8meter free-position attempt and found a cutting Pierce in front for a 2-1 lead.
Sacred Heart had a chance to extend the lead to 3-1 as Cori Horelik (South Windsor, CT) earned an 8meter attempt at 20:43 but saw her shot sail wide. Latonick took advantage of the successful Quinnipiac clear and worked her way to through the middle of the SHU defense for an unassisted marker at 18:14 tying it at 2-2. SHU's Horelik picked up the first of her three goals on the day with 16:30 on the first half clock, taking a feed from sophomore Alicia Fuchs (Bay Shore, NY) and beating QU keeper Noelle Martello for a 3-2 advantage.
After Devon Gibney hit the post on an 8meter attempt with 13:08, SHU's Kate Kmiotek (Farmingville, NY) gathered up the ground ball but saw her pass picked off by Latonick who took advantage going straight to cage beating Wagner one-on-one, tying it 3-3. The two team's would trade goals over the last 10 minutes of action, as SHU's Hauser made it 4-3 with her first goal of the day at 7:54 followed by Quinnipiac's Lyndsey Banach unassisted score at 2:35 to send it to the half knotted at 4-4.
The Bobcats scored twice in the first 5:07 of the second half before Wagner and the defensive unit set the stage for SHU's offensive rally. "This defense pulled together, we knew we needed to step up and get stops and that's just what we did I have a tremendous defensive unit out there in front of me." QU's Laura Iannotti scored unassisted at 26:16 and then followed a Horelik 8meter goal by scoring off transition off a feed from Laura Mutuszczak at 24:53. From there, the Pioneers ripped off a 5-0 run before QU would end their drought with 3:32 left.
Fuchs got the Sacred Heart run started off burying a feed from Pierce in the top-right corner at 21:44, knotting it at 6-6. Kmiotek took advantage of a Quinnipiac defensive crease violation at 17:28, beating the goalie one-on-one for a 7-6 lead, a lead they would never relinquish. The Bobcats had a chance to tie at 14:30 but Gibney's point-blank shot hit the post and the Pioneer's cleared setting up a Hauser 8meter goal a minute later, her second of the day.
Kmiotek had a hand in the next two Sacred Heart goals, making a diving pass to Pierce for her third of the day at 8:15 then scoring unassisted at 3:45 for a 10-6 advantage, capping the 5-0 rally. QU's Kaitlyn Kelly ended the scoring drought at 3:32, scoring unassisted, but Kmiotek helped thwart the Bobcat rally forcing a turnover off the ensuing draw as SHU cleared and tacked on two more goals in the final minutes to seal the win and their third-straight NEC title.
"This is probably the best season in my career," commented Cook. "The team came in this fall, worked hard and today put the finishing touch on what has been a dream season."
Rounding out the 2010 NEC All-Tournament team was Quinnipiac's Kaitlyn Kelly, Lauren Mutuszczak and Kim Davis, Mount St. Mary's Jackie Kearney and Lucy Pompa and Monmouth's Carissa Franzi and Kirby Mundorf.