FAIRFIELD, Conn. – A furious second half rally attempt by the Sacred Heart women's lacrosse team came up just short on Wednesday afternoon as the Pioneers fell to crosstown rival Fairfield, 12-11, from Rafferty Stadium. The Pioneers drop to 1-6 on the season with the loss while the Stags move to 5-3 in 2019.
Trailing 10-3 early in the second half and later by a 12-7 margin with 10:50 remaining, SHU made quite the last-gasp effort as the Pioneers scored four unanswered goals to make it a one-goal game with 30 seconds left. The Stags then snuffed out the comeback bid, winning a pivotal draw control to drain the time remaining and eek out the 12-11 victory.
Winless in 14 all-time games played against the Stags, today's decision marks just the second time in the series history (first since a 13-12 loss in the 2008 season) that the Pioneers have fallen by a one-goal margin to an annual regional power in Fairfield.
Freshman Lydia Werlau led the charge offensively for the Pioneers with a career-high four goals to go along with one assist for a five-point total. Hanna Wise added three goals to give her 13 over the last four games while Cassie Cesario went for two goals and one assist to give her a team-leading 13 points (eight goals, five assists) across the last three games.
Fairfield 12 / Sacred Heart 11
Sacred Heart (1-6) / Fairfield (5-3)
Conway Field at Rafferty Stadium / Fairfield, CT
First Half (7-3 FFD)
- Fairfield dominated a large portion of the first half, jumping out to a 3-0 lead with goals coming from three different Stags
- The Pioneer defense stabilized midway through the first half while Werlau ignited the SHU offense with consecutive goals to make it 3-2 with 11:12 remaining
- Fairfield, however, responded with a 4-1 run over the remaining nine-plus minutes of play, including a shorthanded goal that would loom large later as Kennedy Slater was sent off with a yellow card
- SHU freshman goalkeeper Shana Hecht kept her team in the game, making six of her 11 saves on the day in the first half alone while limiting Fairfield to a 3-for-8 showing on free position shot attempts
- Fairfield controlled possession thanks to their 9-1 advantage in draw controls in the opening half which translated to a 20-8 edge in shots for the Stags
Second Half (12-11 FFD)
- SHU looked like a completely different team in the second half, outscoring the Stags 8-5 but the opening 10 minutes belonged to the Stags who extended their lead to 10-3 with 23:15 remaining
- Trailing by seven, SHU did not go away quietly as the Pioneers scored eight of the next 10 goals to nearly complete the comeback
- A 3-0 SHU run ignited the comeback bid as three different Pioneers lowered the gap to 10-6 as Cesario first socred, followed by Werlau who completed her hat trick with this tally, and capped by Taylor Sweeney who sent home a great feed from Sydney Ericson who passed from behind the cage
- After Fairfield made it 12-7 with 10:50 left, the Pioneers held the Stags scoreless for the remainder of play while scoring four unanswered to come one-goal away from tying the score
- Kerri Metzler scored her second of the season to start the rally attempt while Cesario scored just 44 seconds later to make it 12-9
- Less than three minutes later, Wise scored off a free position to make It 12-10 but a couple of key turnovers from the Pioneers kept the Stags in command
- Werlau scored her fourth of the day with 30 seconds left, giving the Pioneers one last chance to find a game-tying goal but the Stags won the next draw and burned the remainder of the clock to take the victory
- Welau set new career-highs in points (five) and goals (four) as she now has 13 points in six games this season including seven in the last two games alone
- The five-point total for Werlau is the most points for a Pioneer freshman since Cesario went for six points in her 2017 rookie season
- Werlau added a career-high four draw controls, all of which came in the second half
- Wise pumped in three goals on the afternoon as she upped her goal-scoring streak to 15 straight games
- Wise has a team-leading 18 goals on the season including nine over the last two games alone while she upped her personal streak of four straight games with at least two goals
- Cesario recorded three points (two goals, one assist), two draw controls, two ground balls and one caused turnover as she gave great all-around production
- Over the last three games, Cesario has 13 points to up her season total to 16 (10 goals, six assists)
- Ericson dished out her team-leading seventh assist of the season while upping her point streak to four straight games
- Two-time NEC Rookie of the Week Hecht continued to shine in the cage as the rookie posted 11 saves for the game to give her double digit save totals in three straight contests
- Reigning NEC Defensive Player of the Week Elizabeth Small tallied two caused turnovers to up her team-leading total to 17 on the season
- Freshman Claire McElhenny was solid defensively with two caused turnovers and two ground balls
The Pioneers continue their season-long three-game road swing on Saturday with a matchup at famed James M. Shuart Stadium to face the Hofstra Pride at 1 PM.