Defense Carries Monmouth to NEC Championship Game
from press release
FAIRFIELD, Conn. -- The Monmouth University lacrosse team, seeded third, upset second-seeded Quinnipiac University, 9-4 in the semifinal round of the 2012 Northeast Conference Tournament on Friday afternoon at Sacred Heart University's Campus Field. The Hawks advance to the conference tournament championship match on Sunday at 1:00pm against fourth-seeded Mount St. Mary's, which defeated the top-seeded Pioneers, 7-4 earlier in the day.
Monmouth's defense and balanced offensive output were the game's story, getting two goals apiece fromAlex Marino (Howell, N.J./Freehold), Sam Lillo (Short Hills, N.J./Millburn), Kaleigh Gibbons (Candia, N.H./Manchester Central) and Olivia Salata (Broomall, Pa. /Archbishop Carroll) while limiting the Bobcats to more than seven goals below their season average of 11.3 and keeping QU off of the scoreboard for the final 37:57 of the game.
Hawks keeper Katie Donohoe (Peterborough, Ontario/Holy Cross Catholic Secondary), an NEC All-Rookie team honoree, made nine saves in the contest to earn the win.
Monmouth's defense staved off an early QU possession then took a 1-0 lead on a Lillo free position goal with 26:23 to play in the first half. Quinnipiac tied it up at the 21:00 mark, with a goal shot low by freshman Kyra Ochwat but Lillo came back to retake the lead just over three minutes later. Marino gave the Hawks a 3-1 lead with 15:46 to play but it was Quinnipiac's Chelsea Guerrera who tallied the next score, cutting the Hawks lead to 3-2 with 11:51 left before the half. The Hawks regained the two-goal edge when Lillo drew an 8-meter attempt but instead fed Marino on the left side of the cage who beat Quinnipiac goalie Samantha Tilts. Quinnipiac scored a pair of goals within one minute of each other to tie things up at 4-4. Danielle Rakowitz (Montville, N.J./Montville)) regain the lead from the Hawks, being fed by Gibbons.
The Hawks took a 6-4 lead into intermission, punctuated by a Salata goal with eight seconds left, behind a pair of first half tallies from Lillo and Marino. MU outshot Quinnipiac 12-9 in the opening half. Salata started off the second half scoring as well, taking a feed from Marino from behind the Bobcat net.
Gibbons scored the final two goals for the Blue and White, recording a pair of unassisted markers at 14:23 and 6:19 of the second half, respectively, for the 9-4 final.
MU outshot the Bobcats 26-17 in the game, including 14-8 in the second half. The Hawks also controlled the majority of the second half's possession thanks in part to winning three of the four draw controls after intermission.
Hawks will face Mount St. Mary's at 1 p.m. on Sunday.