Sacred Heart Earns NEC Top Seed with OT Win
from press release
FAIRFIELD, Conn. - Sacred Heart senior Amanda
Williams (Monroe, CT) scored her league leading 50th and 51st goals
of the season during overtime, the last coming just 15 seconds into
the third extra session to lift the Pioneers to a 10-9 win over
Wagner College and claim a share of the 2009 Northeast Conference
Regular Season Championship. Sacred Heart and the Quinnipiac
Bobcats both finish the conference slate at 7-1 as the Pioneers
earn the #1 seed for the first time in program history and the
right to host next weekend's NEC Tournament via their head-to-head
Williams kept the Pioneers alive with her third goal of the afternoon coming with just 1:49 left in the first overtime session, tying the game at 9-9 after the Seahawks had jumped in front. Williams finished off her fourth of the afternoon just 15 seconds into the third overtime, weaving her way through the Wagner defense after the draw to bury the game-winner unassisted.
After Sacred Heart scored seven first half goals, it was all Wagner in the second half as they put four scores on the board and got 10 saves from Alex Johnston to force the game into overtime. SHU got out to a 3-1 lead in the game's first five minutes of action as senior Mary Montesarchio (Cortlandt Manor, NY), junior Carissa Hauser (East Northport, NY) and freshman Kate Kmiotek (Farmingville, NY) all found the back to the cage. Wagner rebounded and tied it at 3-3 off scores by Carolyn Clark and Cara Gonzalez with just less than 17 minutes left in the first half.
It looked as if the Pioneers were looking to pull away as Hauser started a three-goal run with her second at 12:27 off a feed from Montesarchio on an 8meter attempt. Freshman Alicia Fuchs (Bay Shore, NY) and Williams each followed with their firsts of the afternoon for a 6-3 Pioneer lead. Wagner ended the run just over a minute later but Williams would send the Pioneers in to the half with a 7-4 lead thanks to an 8meter free-position goal with just 15 ticks left in the first half.
The second half was all Seahawks, tying the game twice while outscoring SHU 4-1 on the way to overtime. Wagner opened the second half with three-straight goals after neither team could manage any offense for the first 10 minutes. Clark, Melanie Garces and Karen Vitkus each notched goals as the Seahawks pulled the game even, 7-7, with 16:14 left in the game. The Pioneers ended a 15:28 scoring drought when Hauser picked up a loose ball in front and beat Johnston to give SHU back the lead 8-7.
Wagner's Janine Bright and Kelly Blundin clicked offensively for the Seahawks as the duo scored twice, once in regulation and again in overtime nearly delivering the upset win. Blundin found Bright cutting to the cage with 6:21 left to knot it at 8-8 and Johnston made one last save in the waning seconds to force overtime. Blundin and Bright hooked up again just 1:28 into the first overtime to give the Seahawks their first lead at 9-8.
After a Wagner turnover with just over two minutes left, SHU went to Williams and the senior delivered, taking a pass off the clear attempts and charging in for the tying goal at 1:49, her 50th of the season. Williams would get off a potential game-winner with just four seconds left in overtime but Johnston made the stop to preserve the tie and force a second, sudden-victory session.
Sacred Heart forced another turnover to open the second overtime as Williams came up with a stick check on Jessica Richmond and the Pioneers would hold the ball for one shot. Montesarchio let fire with six ticks left but Johnston again came up with a game saving stop. Williams and the Pioneers needed little time to put the game away at the start of the third overtime as the senior attacker buried her fourth of the day and 51st of the season just 15 seconds in off the opening draw.
Williams closes out the regular season with a league leading 72 points on 51 goals and 21 assists. Her 51 goals this season breaks her own school Division I record and places her fifth on the all-time list. Her 72 points is the fourth highest point total for a season in school history and the most since joining the ranks of Division I. Her 130 career goals ranks her third all-time at SHU. Montesarchio finished with a goal and two assists in the win and ranks just ahead of Williams in career points with 178, third all-time. Hauser finished the day with three goals and an assist to give her 60 points on the year, third on the team.
Pioneer goalkeeper Chelsea Wagner (Aurora, CO) made eight saves in earning her 10th win on the year. She finishes the regular with an 8.64 goals against average and a .556 save percentage (168 saves).
Prior to the game, Williams along with Montesarchio and senior Erika Spadafora (Saratoga Spring, NY) were honored with their parents on "Senior Day".
The #1 seeded Pioneers will serve as the host to this year's NEC Tournament. Sacred Heart will face #4 seed Monmouth with #2 seed Quinnipiac taking on #3 seed Mount St. Mary's in the semifinals on Friday, April 24th. The NEC Championship game will take place on Sunday, April 26th. Times to be announced.
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