The number one-seeded University at Albany Great Danes, who are ranked eighth nationally, topped third-seeded UMBC, 11-4, to win its first-ever America East Women's Lacrosse Championship Saturday at John Fallon Field. Albany moved to 17-0 on the season and earned the program's first-ever NCAA Tournament berth with the victory.
The NCAA Tournament selection show will unveil the field of 16 teams at 7:30p on Sunday, May 8 on NCAA.com.
Albany senior attacker Jodi Battaglia collected a team-high seven points on five goals and two assists after notching five goals in the semifinal win over New Hampshire on Thursday. Battaglia, who earned the tournament's Most Outstanding Player award, joined teammates Taylor Frink, Ariana Parker and Nikki Branchini on the all-tournament team.
The difference in the game turned out to be UMBC's scoring drought which last over 46 minutes. Albany's high time of possession and Great Dane goalie Anna Berman's four saves kept the Retrievers off the board for most of the game.
The Great Danes and Retrievers, who met last week in the final game of the regular season which Albany won by a 12-11 score, started off much like the regular-season game did with back-and-forth scoring. The Great Danes got on the board first on a Rachael Burek tally assisted by Battaglia at 28:15, but the Retrievers responded just 31 seconds later when Amanda Pappas' 40th goal of the season hit off the post and ricocheted into the net.
In the game's 11th minute, Battaglia scored her first goal after taking a feed from Frink from behind the net. Pappas' free-position shot at 18:15 tied the game at 2-2.
Battaglia and Frink teamed up again at 17:27 to spark a 5-0 Albany run that end the first half. The Great Danes entered intermission with a 7-2 lead.
Albany picked up in the second half where they had left off, scoring twice more in the first five minutes coming out of the break. Battaglia, who factored into seven of the Danes' 11 goals for the afternoon, scored at 26:15 after working around the left side of the net and beating UMBC goalkeeper Natalie Rau to make the score 8-2. Battaglia dished out an assist to Burek at 25:12 for Albany's ninth goal which forced UMBC into a timeout.
The Great Danes bled out the clock and scored twice more over the next 20 minutes before the Retrievers broke up nine-straight goals from Albany with 2:10 remaining. Senior Ashley Stodter struck the back of the net for the Retrievers' third goal of the game. Freshman midfielder Kristen Bilney scored with 8.7 seconds remaining to account for the 11-4 final.
Albany won 11 of 17 draws, including Branchini's five on the afternoon. The Great Danes also outshot the Retrievers, 19-10. Ground balls were 9-6 in favor of Albany.
Rau made five saves and earned all-tournament team recognition alongside teammates Pappas and Erika Braerman.
University of New Hampshire's Hayley Rausch and Ally Stager, and Boston University's Christina Sheridan and Danielle Etrasco also received all-tournament team distinction after their semifinal performances.