April 27, 2014

Bryant Routs Sacred Heart to Clinch NEC Crown

from Press Release

SMITHFIELD, R.I. – Behind five goals from senior attack Haley Bloom (Hauppauge, N.Y.), the Bryant University women's lacrosse team capped off a perfect 7-0 Northeast Conference season and claimed the 2014 NEC Regular-Season title, all while setting a new program record for wins in a season with a 17-9 victory over Sacred Heart Sunday on Senior Day.

Bloom's five goals tied a career high while senior midfielder Lisa Vendel (Sandy Hook, Conn.) and sophomore attack Lauren Descalzo (Hauppauge, N.Y.) also chipped in hat tricks. Senior Olivia McCarthy (Sea Girt, N.J.) dished out a career-best four assists and also finished the day with five points to lead the Bulldogs (13-3, 7-0 NEC).Caitlin Delaney paced the Pioneers (4-11, 2-5) with four scores while Paige DeVine added a trio of assists.

"All season long, these seniors have just stepped up to support each other, and today was no different," said Bryant head coach Jill DePetris-Batcheller. "Haley [Bloom] and Lisa [Vendel] really led the team in our attack whereas Lindsay Gilfeather and Lindsay Langellareally kept the defense sound and came up with big plays."

Sacred Heart jumped out to a 1-0 lead less than four minutes into the contest, but goals from Bloom, Descalzo and senior midfielder Kimberley Sniffen (Redding, Conn.) turned the advantage in Bryant's favor, 3-1.

Delaney would cut into that lead at the 16:47 mark, but back-to-back Descalzo scores gave the Black and Gold a 5-2 edge midway through the frame. Jesslyn Joseph closed the gap to two goals, 5-3, for Sacred Heart, but it was all Bryant from there, as the Bulldogs scored five straight to close out the half and take a 10-3 lead into the locker room at the intermission.

Bloom started out the second stanza with her fourth tally of the day just 1:13 into the frame off an assist from Katherine Keckeisen (Danbury, Conn.), but Sacred Heart would make a run from there, scoring four of the next five to cut into the Bulldogs' lead and narrow it to 12-7 with 18:31 still to play in the contest.

Vendel jumpstarted the Bulldog response just four minutes later, though, completing her hat trick in unassisted fashion, and a McCarthy goal less than a minute after pushed Bryant's lead back up to 14-7. The Bulldogs and Pioneers would trade goals for the remainder of the contest, with Bryant's final three markers coming from Vendel, rookie Emily Columbus(East Northport, N.Y.) and sophomore Nicole Britton (Monmouth Beach, N.J.) en route to the 17-9 final.

"What this team has been able to accomplish is a true testament to the hard work and dedication that they have put in all year long," said DePetris-Batcheller. "Our seniors are the driving force behind this team, and I am so happy they were able to go out on a note like today, beating Sacred Heart to earn our first-ever NEC Regular-Season title."

The Bulldogs outshot the Pioneers, 42-20, and more than doubled Sacred Heart in the ground ball game, 26-12. Bryant also took the edge on draw controls, 15-13, and got seven saves from senior netminder Brianna Watt (Babylon, N.Y.).

The win secured the Bulldogs' first undefeated NEC season and marks the first time the program has been perfect in conference play at any level. After advancing to the NEC Championship Game last season, Bryant will serve as tournament host and top seed in 2014 and will next square off against fourth-seeded Central Connecticut in the first of two NEC Semifinals Friday at 4:00 p.m. at the Bryant Turf Complex.

"The year that we've had getting to this point has been full of so many highlights and so many firsts," said Batcheller. "It's our program's first time winning the NEC title, first getting the top seed, first finishing undefeated in the league, and we hope to keep it going and become the first team in our program's history to go to the NCAA tournament."

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