Stony Brook, Albany To Meet In Saturday's Women's Lacrosse Final
Saturday's final will air live on ESPN3 with Eric Frede calling the action and Leah Secondo providing the color analysis. The winner will receive an automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament.
Albany (11-5 overall record) avenged a 16-11 loss to Boston U. (11-6) in early April with a 15-9 victory in the league tournament, moving one step closer to repeating last year's conference championship crown. In the second semifinal, Stony Brook (14-4) continued its record-breaking season with a 9-7 win over third-seeded UMBC (8-9). The Seawolves, ranked 20 in this week's DeBeer/Inside Lacrosse Media Poll, played themselves into their first-ever America East title game and set the program record for wins in a season.
In the first semifinal of the day, three different Great Danes scored four goals as Rachael Burek, Mel Rorie and Amanda Pollock all found the net often. First-team all-conference sophomore midfielder Ariana Parker recorded a seven-point afternoon, dishing out five assists to her teammates and scoring twice. Burek also registered an assist to finish with five points on the afternoon. Boston U. junior Danielle Etrasco and senior Molly Swain each scored hat tricks.
The first half scoring was a back and forth affair with five ties and no leads greater than one goal. After five-plus minutes of scoreless action in which Albany dominated possession, the Great Danes opened the scoring on Burek's first goal at 24:12. Etrasco and Burek traded goals before the Terriers took their first lead of the game on back-to-back tallies from Swain and Rookie of the Year Mallory Collins just 39 seconds apart at 13:48 and 13:09. The teams traded goals at will over the next ten minutes before Albany finished off the half with two goals in the final minute to take a 6-5 advantage into the break. Rorie completed a hat trick with her third goal of the stanza with 44 seconds on the clock.
Boston U. started off the second frame quickly with a tally from Swain just 29 seconds in to knot the score at six. The Great Danes then embarked on a game-defining six-goal run beginning with Parker's unassisted bounce-shot goal at 28:06. Albany chased Boston U. starting sophomore goalkeeper Christina Sheridan from the game in favor of junior Kim Elsworth after Maureen Keggins scored the team's ninth goal at 25:14 to give the visitors the 9-6 lead. Burek, Rorie and Pollock would all score over the next seven minutes to swell the lead to 12-6.
Swain broke the Terriers' drought, which lasted nearly 15 minutes, at 14:53 to bookend the Albany run. Pollock scored three of the game's final five scores, including the dagger with 1:49 remaining to make it 14-9 and the exclamation point with 38 seconds left, to seal the game up for the Great Danes.
Later in the day, Stony Brook used a four-goal run in the first half to build a lead the Retrievers weren't able to overcome. Freshman midfielder Michelle Rubino notched a hat trick and classmate Amber Kupres scored a pair of goals. America East Player of the Year Claire Petersen finished the day with five points on a goal and four assists. Rubino, the conference leader in draw controls, won five of Stony Brook's 11 draws on the day.
Emily Mercier and Kupres gave the Seawolves a 2-0 lead in the first eight minutes of the game, but UMBC's Alicia Krause and Emily Coady evened the score at two by the frame's halfway point. Stony Brook scored four straight goals, including two by Rubino and single tallies by Petersen and Kupres, to take a 6-2 lead, the game's largest advantage. The Retrievers' top point-getter Lindsay Cox tacked on two unassisted goals in the final minute of the half to bring UMBC within two, 6-4, and momentum into the game's final 30 minutes.
Both teams fed off of their goalkeepers in the second half. Stony Brook junior Hannah Perruccio made five of her six saves in the second half, but UMBC freshman goalkeeper Anna Barnett, a second-team all-conference choice, made several spectacular saves down the stretch to keep the Seawolves from running away with the game. Stony Brook junior Janine Hillier aimed a hard, low point-blank shot for the five-hole, but Barnett made the stop on one knee and made the clear. UMBC sophomore Kristen Bilney capitalized on that ensuing possession with her second goal of the half with 4:54 remaining to pull the Retrievers to within one goal, 8-7.
After UMBC's Krause won the next draw, Mercier caused a turnover and picked up the ground ball to gain possession for the Seawolves. Stony Brook Head Coach Joe Spallina called a timeout and then Rubino converted a goal coming out of the huddle at 2:42 to finish the day's scoring, sending the Seawolves into Saturday's title tilt.
Quick Hits... Stony Brook took the regular season meeting with Albany, 16-5 on April 21... Albany's Ariana Parker tied the America East Championship single-game record for assists with five. Her former teammate, Taylor Frink, as well as former Terriers McKinley Curro (2007) and Alyssa Trudel (2003) also recorded five assists... This marks the first back-to-back years Boston U. has not appeared in the league title game since the 1997 and 1998 tournaments... Stony Brook's Claire Petersen improved her season total to 98 points having entered the day with a league-high 93... Stony Brook freshman midfielder Amber Kupres also finished with four caused turnovers and five ground balls in the Seawolves' midfield... Saturday's final on ESPN3 is available through an affiliated internet or video provider online via WatchESPN.com, on smartphones and tablets via the WatchESPN app and through ESPN on Xbox LIVE... The Stony Brook and Albany men will also vie for the America East title Saturday afternoon on Long Island at 3 p.m.