NEWTON, Mass. – Senior Morgan Pinksten (Pelham, N.H.) drove home the game-winning goal with 55 seconds remaining in the first overtime Wednesday afternoon to lift the top-seeded Lasell College women's soccer team to a 1-0 victory over fourth-seeded Emmanuel College in a Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) semifinal on Taylor Field.
The Lasers avenged a 2-1 regular season finale loss at the hands of the Saints exactly one week ago at Emmanuel. The loss ended Lasell's 20-game winning streak versus GNAC opponents.
The eight-time defending champion Lasers advance to the GNAC title game for the ninth straight year, and will host second-seeded Saint Joseph's College (Maine) for the championship on Saturday (time TBA). The Monks doubled-up third-seeded Johnson & Wales University, 4-2, in Wednesday's other semifinal.
Despite the scoreless gridlock at the end of the first half, Lasell showed poised offensive control, outshooting Emmanuel 9-1. Two of the Lasers nine first stanza shots came from senior Carly Zdanek (Newton, N.J.) late in the half.
In the second half the Lasers and Saints continued the stalemate. Lasell came close midway through the half as freshman Serena Speight (Biddeford, Maine) had back-to-back shots for the Lasers in a 90 seconds span. In the 82nd minute the Saints got two quick chances to take an advantage, but shots from Natalie Dash (East Hampton, Conn.) and Bailey Maurer (Florence, Mass.) failed to get by freshman goalkeeper Angela Sanzari (North Haven, Conn.)
In overtime, the Lasers continued to pressure Saints goalkeeper Lexi Gawron (South Hadley, Mass.) with four shots. Two of those final shots came as junior Caitlin Rotonnelli (Meredith, N.H.) hit a shot from beyond the box, with the ball tipping off the glove of Gawron into the crossbar before landing directly in front of the goal where Pinksten powered home the winning shot.
Defensively the Lasers and Saints created difficulty for their opposing offenses. Lasell garnered strong performances from seniors Emma Papile (Quincy, Mass.) and Sabrina Morais (Arlington, Mass.), sophomore Korynne Provenzano (Stratham, N.H.), and freshman Syd Eggsware (Hoosick Falls, N.Y.), who kept the Saints to only three shots. The EC defense was led by junior Kaylin Deschenes (Lynn, Mass.) and sophomores Rachel Prevost (Tewksbury, Mass.), Hannah Shesky (Scituate, Mass.) and Emma Johnson (Ellington, Conn.).
Lasell outshot Emmanuel 24-3 in the victory, with Sanzari recording two saves for the Lasers, while Gawron recorded a career-high 14 saves for the Saints. Prior to the goal, Gawron had appeared in 504 scoreless minutes in net for EC, the second-longest streak in program history.
Emmanuel graduates four seniors in Rachel Beliveau (West Springfield, Mass.), Kayla Generis (Wethersfield, Conn.), Mikayla Guthrie (North Andover, Mass.), Emily Medeiros (Barrington, R.I.) but returns the back four and keeper that finished the season with a conference-low 0.79 goals against average, setting a program record with 10 shutouts along the way.
*Release courtesy of Lasell College Sports Information Dept.