BOSTON, Mass. – The No. 1-seeded Emmanuel College Women's Lacrosse Team won the program's first-ever conference title, defeating No. 2-seeded Saint Joseph's College (Me.), 17-7, in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) Championship. With the win, coming on a rain-soaked Roberto Clemente Field on Saturday afternoon, the 15-2 Saints have earned an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament and will advance to play in the national tournament on May 7th. Finishing as the conference runner-up, Saint Joseph's falls to 12-8 on the season.
Sophomore middie Kristen Tuleja (Mansfield, Mass.) got the Saints on the board first, scoring off an assist from classmate Sarah Higgins (Groveland, Mass.) just four minutes into the action. This would be the first of six goals on the night for Emmanuel's all-time leading scorer and the Saints took a 1-0 lead.
St. Joe's quickly tied things up, when Krystal Walsh (Springvale, Maine) notched an unassisted tally eight minutes into the first half. Higgins and Tuleja would reverse the combination, as Higgins netted her 42nd goal of the season and EC led 2-1. Just one minute later, senior midfielder Cassie Diplock (Augusta, Maine) scored to tie things up again for the Monks at two-all.
The Saints then went on a five-goal tear, featuring two unassisted tallies from Tuleja, as Emmanuel surged out in front, 7-2, with 7:39 left to play in the first half. The Monks would score twice more before the break with Jackie Wilson (Tiverton, R.I.) finding the back of the net on a man-up opportunity and Diplock netting her second of three goals on the day, as the St. Joe's cut their deficit to 7-4 at halftime.
The Monks scored quickly out of the break with Kat Gadbois (Scarborough, Maine) scoring just three minutes in, making it a two-goal game with St. Joe's trailing 7-5. Emmanuel then regained the momentum, as the Saints poured in seven unanswered goals to rally back and take a 14-5 lead with 11 minutes remaining in the game. During the scoring spree, Tuleja scored twice, while Higgins, Sara Wootten (Berlin, Md.), Madison Altwies (Southington, Conn.), Emily Baker (Stratham, N.H.) and Savannah Lundwall (Fiskdale, Mass.) all notched unassisted markers.
Meghan Williams (Greenland, N.H.) ended the drought for the Monks, scoring on another Saint Joseph's man-up opp. Tuleja and Diplock would trade goals at opposite end to bring the spread to 15-7 with seven minutes left. The hosts then got two more scores before it was over, coming off the sticks of freshmen Amanda Cook (Saco, Maine) and Abaigeal Merrigan (Rye, N.H.), to pull away with the 17-7 win.
Despite holding a 27-26 edge in total shots and a 20-17 advantage in ground balls, the Monks were out-matched offensively, as Emmanuel connected on 17 of the team's 20 total shots-on-goal.
Tuleja finished the day with an incredible 9 points, a career-best performance. The sophomore dished out three assists to go along with her game-high six goals. Higgins notched her 12th multi-goal game of the season with three goals and an assist. Merrigan and Baker finished with a pair of goals each for the Saints, while Lundwall led the defense with her five ground balls. Tuleja, Wootten, Lundwall and Higgins all earned spots on the All-Tournament Team for Emmanuel.
Sophomore goalie Lauren White (Lynnfield, Mass.) earned her 15th win of the season for the Saints. White played another tremendous game in net for Emmanuel, making 11 total saves on the day. Following the game, White was named the GNAC Tournament's Most Valuable Player.
Diplock recorded a hat-trick for the Monks, while Gadbois, Williams, Walsh and Wilson scored once each in the effort. Saint Joseph's goalies Haley Nason (Saco, Maine) made three saves in the effort for the Monks, but Elizabeth Giacchino (Melrose, Mass.) took the loss, allowing the first seven EC goals.
Diplock, Lizzie Calnan (Westport, Mass.) and Rachelle Messuri (Atkinson, N.H.) were All-Tournament Team selections for Saint Joseph's.
Having gone undefeated in regular season conference play and boasting a 13-0 record against GNAC opponents this season, Emmanuel will ride an 11-game win streak into the national tournament in two weeks. The young Saints, without a senior on the roster, will make the program's inaugural NCAA Tournament appearance. Opening round NCAA Tournament action is slated to begin on May 7th.
2014 GNAC Women's Lacrosse All-Tournament Team
Lauren White – Emmanuel (Most Valuable Player)
Kristen Tuleja – Emmanuel
Sarah Higgins – Emmanuel
Savannah Lundwall – Emmanuel
Sarah Wootten – Emmanuel
Lizzie Calnan – St. Joseph's (ME)
Cassie Diplock – St. Joseph's (ME)
Rachelle Messuri – St. Joseph's (ME)
Baylie Lamarre – Norwich
Grace Fitzpatrick – Norwich
Rebecca Wickens – Rivier
Danielle Moran - Rivier
View the post-game interview with Emmanuel College Director of Athletics Pam Roecker, Head Coach Liz Goddard, team captain Sarah Wootten and leading scorer Kristen Tuleja