BOSTON, Mass. – The No. 1-seeded Emmanuel College Women's Lacrosse Team stretched its win streak to nine games, when the Saints defeated 8th-seeded University of Saint Joseph, 20-8, on Tuesday night at Roberto Clemente Field. The Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) Tournament Quarterfinal win was Emmanuel's first-ever play-off victory, as the Saints improved to 13-2 on the season and will now advance to the GNAC Semifinals on Thursday night.
University of Saint Joseph was making the program's first GNAC Tournament appearance. The Blue Jays end their 2014 campaign at 4-10 on the season.
Much of the opening half was tightly contested with the lead changing sides five times in the first 22 minutes of action. The Saints got on the board early with freshman Emily Baker (Stratham, N.H.) scoring just 99 seconds into the contest. Over the next three minutes, the Blue Jays got goals from Haley Tufano (Farmington, Conn.) and Rachel Foster (Newington, Conn.) to take a one-goal lead at 2-1.
Sophomore middie Kristen Tuleja (Mansfield, Mass.) netted her first of five goals on the night to tie the game at 2-all, before rookie Savannah Lundwall (Fiskdale, Mass.) scored on a free position shot just ten minutes into the game to put EC back out in front at 3-2.
The Blue Jays would rattle off three unanswered goals over the next eight minutes, including two markers from Dayna Gambino (Newington, Conn.) to go up, 5-3, with 11:42 left in the first half. The Saints then went on a four-goal tear that spanned just two and a half minutes with goals from Tuleja, Baker, Sarah Higgins (Groveland, Mass.) and Abaigeal Merrigan (Rye, N.H.) to take the lead for good at 7-5.
Gambino struck again for USJ, before another five-goal EC scoring spree ensued. Two goals from Higgins, along with one each from Tuleja, Lundwall and Amanda Cook (Saco, Me.) pushed the Emmanuel spread to six at 12-6 with a minute to play in the half. The Blue Jays got one more tally before the break, when Erika Leitao (Southington, Conn.) scored off an assist from Foster with 15 seconds on the clock and the visitors trailed 12-7 at halftime.
The Saints held a 23-11 shooting advantage in the first half and Emmanuel continued to dominate the offense in the second half, taking 18 shots to just five by the Blue Jays. The hosts opened second half action with seven unanswered goals, including two by Baker and two by Tuleja, to surge out in front 19-7.
The Blue Jays got a late spark from Leitao, when the senior attack scored her 100th career goal with just under five minutes remaining in her final collegiate contest.
Tuleja finished the night with seven points. The sophomore scored 5 goals, including her 50th of the season, while dishing out 2 assists and tallying a game-high 7 groundballs. Higgins and Baker scored four goals apiece. Lundwall notched her first collegiate hat-trick and Cook had her third multi-goal game with two scores on the night. Wootten finished with four points, coming off of a goal and three helpers, to go along with 4 groundballs and 7 draw controls.
Leitao and Gambino each had three-goal outings for USJ. Foster dished out four assists, while Bridget Saur (Vernon, Conn.) and Kathryn Zeugner (Windsor, Conn.) combined for 10 groundballs in the effort for the Blue Jays. Leitao became just the second player in USJ program history to score 100 career goals, joining Dayna Gambino in the record books.
Sophomore goalie Lauren White (Lynnfeld, Mass.) notched her 13th win of the season, playing the full 60 minutes in net. White made four saves on 12 USJ shots to improve to 13-2 on the year.
Senior Anne Pitoniak (West Haven, Conn.) took the loss for the Blue Jays, finishing the year at 4-10. Pitoniak made 14 saves in goal for the visitors.
Emmanuel will now advance to the GNAC Semifinals this Thursday night (4/24). The Saints will host No. 5 Rivier University in a 7:00 PM start on Roberto Clemente Field. The Raiders are advancing to the GNAC Semifinals after upsetting No. 4 Lasell College tonight, 11-7, on Lasell's home field.