March 27, 2011

Bryant Upsets NEC Frontrunner Monmouth

from press release

SMITHFIELD, R.I. – Bryant never trailed against one of the top teams in the Northeast Conference Sunday afternoon as the Bulldogs used four free position goals and strong defensive play to shock Monmouth, 8-7, in women's lacrosse action at the Bryant Turf Complex.

For the Hawks (6-3, 1-1 NEC), it was just the third loss of the season and their first in conference, while the Bulldogs (2-7, 1-1) picked up their second victory of the year and first in NEC action.

Rookie star Haley Bloom (Hauppauge, N.Y.) recorded a game-best five points on the day off two goals and three helpers, as the first-year attacker had a hand in every non-free position goal for the Black and Gold in the win. Junior captain Lauren Filippone (West Babylon, N.Y.) came up big in goal for Bryant, facing 30 shots and making 14 saves to preserve the one-goal topping.

Monmouth never owned a lead in the outing, and the Bulldogs led by as many three goals on three occasions throughout the contest, but the Hawks kept it close for the full 60 minutes, slowly chipping away at the home side's lead over the course of the second half. The efforts paid off with 10:12 to play in the contest, when Sam Lillo finally pulled the visitors even at 7-7.

But after working so hard to edge out a team most thought was the better of the two entering the game, the Bulldogs wouldn't stand by and watch their win evaporate. And with 9:32 on the clock, junior captain Lauren Sheridan (Bethpage, N.Y.) made sure it didn't, nailing home the game winner off a long assist from Bloom for the eighth and final score of the game as the Bulldogs kept their foes out of the net until the final whistle with a stellar defensive effort.

But even that was close, as the Hawks were given a final opportunity to re-tie the score after what could have been a costly Bryant turnover in the offensive end with just 28 seconds to play. Monmouth moved the ball upfield as quickly as it could under intense pressure, handing the ball off to Carissa Franzi – who already had two goals on the day – with five seconds for the final shot.

Franzi drove a slant route right to goal, releasing a shot just in time that sailed wide left to preserve the 8-7 Bulldog victory.

It was a well deserved 'W' for the Black and Gold, who caused four of Monmouth's 10 turnovers and used their free position opportunities to jump out to a 3-0 edge in the opening 18:13 of the contest. Sheridan and rookies Bloom and Lisa Vendel (Sandy Hook, Conn.) each made good on her chance to take the surprising early lead.

It would take nearly five more minutes, but Monmouth would get two back quickly before Bloom netted her second tally of the night with an unassisted goal at the 4:19 mark, just 16 seconds after the Hawks' second goal.

Antoinette Lombardi (Wallingford, Conn.) would make good on a crafty Bloom pass to give the first-year attacker her third point of the night and take back a three-goal Bulldog advantage, 5-2, but a free position shot from Monmouth's Rachel Obregon allowed the visitors to cut their deficit to two entering the halftime break.

Sophomore Madeleine Pickett (Stratham, N.H.) scored her fourth goal of the season just 39 seconds into the second frame, again assisted by Bloom, but from there, the Hawks began to claw their way back into the game.

An Erica Abendschoen goal with 22:34 to play cut the home team's lead to 6-4, and leading scorer Molly O'Brien pulled the visitors within one for the first time just as the clock ticked under 20 minutes.

Kim Sniffen (Redding, Conn.) re-upped Bryant's lead to two, 7-5, on the fourth and final free position goal of the day, but Monmouth wasn't done yet, as Franzi and Lillo would score just 41 seconds apart to tie the game at 7-7 with just over 10 minutes to play.

But a long feed from Bloom out to Sheridan at the top of the offensive zone on the ensuing possession gave the junior captain a prime lane to drive through for the hard shot, one that got past Hawk netminder Kirby Mundorf to retake an 8-7 lead the Bulldogs would hold on to for good.

The Hawks got more chances to get to the net than Bryant on the afternoon, outshooting their hosts, 30-23, and Monmouth won more ground balls, 22-16. The Bulldogs took the edge on draw control wins, earning an 11-6 margin thanks in part to a game-high three from Sniffen. Filippone's six ground balls were also a contest best.

Monmouth was whistled for 34 fouls to Bryant's 21, and Mundorf made eight stops between the pipes for the visitors.

Bryant will now take the confidence gained from a big win and put it toward the team's next contest, a 4 p.m. road matchup with Saint Francis (PA) on Friday, April 1. The Bulldogs are in search of their first back-to-back wins of the season and look to move above .500 in league play.

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