April 24, 2009

St. Joe's Scores Final Six to Beat Richmond

from press release

PHILADELPHIA ---Jen Peters scored a goal off a Abby Renninger assist with no time remaining to complete an unbelievable comeback as #3 Saint Joseph's defeated #2 Richmond, 11-10, in the Atlantic 10 Championship semifinals on Friday at Temple. The Hawks were down 10-5 with 11:24 remaining, but scored six straight goals to beat the Spiders for the first time in program history.

Saint Joseph's (10-7) had the ball with just over a minute to play and the game tied at 10-10, waiting to take the final shot. Peters held the ball with 15 seconds to go but was blocked in front of the crease and the Spiders regained possession on a foul by SJU with seven seconds left.

Richmond (6-11) released the ball out of their defensive end to Mary Flowers near midfield. Renninger checked her stick, picked up the ground ball with five seconds to go and ran into the offensive zone. She tossed it over to Peters who was stationed just outside of the crease and fired top shelf past UR's Erica Marocco (eight saves) with zeros on the clock for the stunning victory.

"We won as a team," Peters said. "I was just hoping it went in. It was a last second shot and I just ripped it."

The historic day seemed to be contained to Jenna Martino, who scored five goals and tallied an assist, upping her season totals to 54 goals and 72 points, which are new single-season records. The rest of the Hawks' offense struggled, just as they had five days earlier in Virginia against the very same Spiders.

"They earned it," Head coach Denise Roessler said, nearly speechless, "And I'm not surprised. They fought hard until the end and it was a team effort."

The comeback began when Jessica Westlake scored off a Julie Mineweaser helper with 11:24 remaining to cut the score to 10-6. Meghan McDevitt scored back-to-back goals with 7:25 and 6:52 to go cutting the four-goal deficit in half, 10-8. The second McDevitt goal was assisted by Helene Tursi.

Just 11 seconds after McDevitt's pair, Martino went the distance, taking the ensuing draw control all the way for an unassisted goal. Fourty-three seconds after that, SJU won another draw control and Martino was there again for her fifth goal of the game to knot things up at 10, setting up the final-second heroics by Peters and Renninger.

"We said when we were down five goals either we have to comeback now or the season is over," Renninger said. "We said we weren't letting anymore goals in on defense. It was Christine Readinger who pumped everyone up and the attack did their job."

In the first half, UR opened the game with two goals during the 11th minute. Martino put two in with 17:32 to go and 9:53 remaining in the half. UR's Mandy Friend (five goals) notched her first goal of the day with 7:24 to put the Spiders up one.

Peters scored her first of the day off a Martino helper with 6:13 left to tie the game at three. Friend closed the half with two goals, including one at the buzzer for a 5-3 advantage.

Friend scored her fourth-in-a-row to open the second half and double up SJU at the time, 6-3, with 29:39 left. Goals by Martino and Peters sandwiched another UR tally to make it 7-5 with 24:38 to go.

The Spiders put three more on the board to make it the 10-5 game that Saint Joseph's from which SJU would come back.

Defensive Player of the Year Suzy Herlihy had 13 saves on the day, including two big stops on free-position tries in the last five minutes.

UR out-shot the Hawks, 32-29, and had the edge in ground balls, 12-10. SJU had 13 draw controls, including four of the last five during the comeback and nine of 13 in the second. The Hawks were a perfect 15-for-15 in clears, while Richmond was 10-for-14. Saint Joseph's moves on to the Championship game for the first time in program history. The Hawks will take on #1 Massachusetts, 12-9 winners over #4 George Washington, on Sunday at Temple's Geasey Field at 1:00 p.m.

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