March 10, 2014

Vendel's OT Goals Lifts Bryant over Lehigh

from press release

SMITHFIELD, R.I. – With 45 seconds to go in the first segment of overtime, senior midfielderLisa Vendel (Sandy Hook, Conn.) took a pass from classmate Haley Bloom (Hauppauge, N.Y.) and found the back of the net, propelling the Bryant University women's lacrosse team to its third overtime victory of the season, 13-12, on the road over Lehigh University Monday afternoon to kick off Spring Break action.

The tally was the second of the game from Vendel, who also added an assist as one of three multi-goal scorers for the Bulldogs (4-2). The Mountain Hawks (3-3) also saw three multi-goal scorers in the outing, including a hat trick from Carli Sukonik, who scored the go-ahead goal for Lehigh with just 1:55 left to play in regulation.

Senior Olivia McCarthy (Sea Girt, N.J.) knotted the game for the final time with an unassisted marker with 59 ticks on the clock, pushing the contest into an extra stanza and setting up Vendel's second-straight extra-time game winner.

Sophomore Lauren Descalzo (Hauppauge, N.Y.) finished the contest with a game-high four goals, while Bloom posted a contest-best five points off a goal and four assists. Senior midfielder Katherine Keckeisen (Danbury, Conn.) scored a pair of her own, while seniorKimberley Sniffen (Redding, Conn.) and McCarthy each chipped in a goal and an assist.

Lehigh was paced by four scores from Chelsea Retaleato with five points from Allison LaBeau (2 goals, 3 assists) to complement Sukonik's hat trick. In total, six players scored for the Mountain Hawks while the Bulldogs saw eight pick up at least one point.

"The game changer for us was our ability to grab the tempo of the game from the start," said Bryant head coach Jill Batcheller. "Our attack used the momentum from the defense and worked for their opportunities on offense, and that effort was led by Haley and Lauren today."

Bryant spotted the Mountain Hawks a 3-0 advantage to open the game, but the visitors scored four of the next five to knot the contest at 4-4 with 11:14 to go in the first frame. The Bulldogs eventually outscored Lehigh, 7-3, in the final 22 minutes of the half, including a streak of three straight from the sticks of Shannon Burns (Mount Sinai, N.Y.), Keckeisen and Descalzo for a 7-5 Bryant advantage with 3:36 to go before the intermission.

A Lehigh tally from Krista Dampman with 14 seconds left sent the Black and Gold into the locker room with a 7-6 edge after 30 minutes of action. But it didn't take Bryant long to get back on the board after the break, and the Bulldogs upped that advantage to 9-6 with goals from Sniffen and Descalzo nearly 10 minutes apart to take the clock below the 19-minute mark.

But it would be the Mountain Hawks' turn for a run, getting three of the next four goals – broken up by a Descalzo marker at the 16:16 mark – to cut the visitor's advantage back to a single score, 10-9, with 12:25 to go.

Rookie Emily Columbus (East Northport, N.Y.) made it 11-9 with the first goal of her career with just over five minutes remaining in regulation off a pass from Bloom, but a score from Lehigh's Kendall Garden and back-to-back Sukonik tallies just 60 seconds apart flipped the margin to 12-11 in favor of the home team.

But off a broken set play with under a minute to go, McCarthy got the chance to play hero, netting the equalizer with 59 seconds to go to send the teams into overtime. And while Vendel would net the go-ahead goal and eventual game winner 2:15 into the extra session, the game was far from over.

Lehigh's Julianne D'Orazio won the draw control to open the second half of overtime, and Lehigh would maintain the possession in the Bryant end entering the final minute. The lengthy possession led up to one final shot off the stick of Sukonik in the middle of the field with 44 seconds to play, but senior goalie Brianna Watt(Babylon, N.Y.) was there to make the save, allowing the Bulldogs to run out the clock and secure the overtime victory.

"Our defensive unit, led by Brianna Watt, came up with the big plays at pivotal moments," said Batcheller. "And Brianna's huge save at the end secured the win for us in the overtime."

Watt finished the game with 11 saves and a game-high three ground balls, while Burns led the Bulldogs with a pair of caused turnovers. Sophomore Nicole Britton(Monmouth Beach, N.J.) picked up five of the team's 13 draw controls, with four more coming from Sniffen, while the Bulldogs as a unit outshot the Mountain Hawks, 31-27. Lehigh picked up 15 ground balls to Bryant's 13 and won the draw control battle as well, 16-13.

The Bulldogs return to action Wednesday, when they take on Lafayette College in Easton, Pa., at 4:00 p.m.

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