April 2, 2011

Branchini Helps Keep No. 11 Albany Perfect

from press release

STONY BROOK, N.Y. - Nikki Branchini had a career-high four goals and one assist, all in the second half, as UAlbany stayed unbeaten with an 11-5 victory over Stony Brook on Saturday, April 2 at LaValle Stadium. The Great Danes, who were playing in their America East Conference opener, are one of four undefeated teams at the Division I level.

Stony Brook (3-7, AE 0-2) closed the gap to 5-4 early the final period when Kaila Gottlick connected on a free-position attempt. UAlbany (9-0, AE 1-0) answered with a pair of goals one minute and 50 seconds apart. Kathleen Lennon and Branchini each scored unassisted.

Gottlick, a freshman midfielder, tallied her third goal of the game to slice the deficit to 7-5 with 12:41 to play. After Stony Brook goalkeeper Mickey Cahill made two saves off free-position attempts, UAlbany attacker Jodi Battaglia ended that sequence with her 16th goal of the season.

The Great Danes pulled away by scoring three more times in a span of two minutes and 41 seconds. Branchini set up Amanda Pollock for a 9-5 lead with 5:09 remaining. The senior defensive midfielder later drilled a free-position shot into the cage after being fouled by Seawolves' midfielder Trish Molfetta. Freshman Persy Sample ended that offensive outburst after Lennon broke up a clearing attempt and picked up a ground ball.

"They came out with a lot of energy," said Branchini, whose team is ranked No. 11 in the IWLCA coaches' poll. "Our defense was able to keep them from scoring. We made some adjustments and started to get the 50-50 loose balls. We are very excited about our success, but we have to take it one game at a time."

Freshman Ariana Parker had two goals for the Great Danes, who along with Maryland, Northwestern and Loyola, Md. are the nation's only undefeated Division I teams. Stony Brook's Cahill made 10 saves.

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