PORTLAND, Maine – Top-seeded Saint Joseph's College (12-6, 5-1 GNAC) defeated #4 Lasell College (12-7, 2-4 GNAC), 3-1, in a Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) Field Hockey Tournament Semifinal at Deering Memorial Stadium on Wednesday evening.
With the victory, Saint Joseph's advances to the GNAC Championship and will face #2 Simmons College, which topped #3 Johnson & Wales University by a 3-0 score in other semifinal action tonight, in the conference title bout for the second-consecutive season. Last fall, the Sharks edged Saint Joseph's by a 1-0 margin in the championship to earn the GNAC title – and automatic NCAA DIII Tournament berth – for the second in as many seasons.
The 2016 GNAC Championship will be played at Deering Memorial Stadium at 3:00 PM on Saturday.
For Lasell, the hard fought loss signals the end of the 2016 campaign save for a berth into the ECAC New England Tournament.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Saint Joseph's scored twice in the opening 20 minutes, both off penalty corners, as junior Elyse Caiazzo (Scarborough, Maine/Cheverus) slammed home a pass from Maddy Beaulieu (West Gardiner, Maine) at the 13:24 mark and freshman Libby Pomerleau (Limerick, Maine) netted her 14th goal of the season less than seven minutes later – off another Beaulieu feed – to lift her team to a 2-0 cushion.
The Monks seemed to have all the momentum, but the tide turned quickly as sophomore forward Cailin Flannery (Medford, N.J.) boomed a shot, from the top of the circle, off the lower third panel to cut her team's deficit in half at the 25:15 mark. St. Joe's sophomore keeper Megan Baker (Gorham, Maine) did not seem to see the shot, which ricocheted off the panel all the way to near midfield.
Lasell kept applying the pressure for the remainder of the half and tonight's outcome could very well have played out differently if not for a pair of defensive saves from sophomore defender Kayla Veilleux (Sabattus, Maine) in the closing seven minutes of the opening frame.
Looking for a spark early in the second stanza, the Monks received just that as junior Hayley Winslow (Falmouth, Maine) scored on a corner off a Pomerleau pass just 1:44 into the latter period.
Saint Joseph's managed to control play for the better part of the second half, although a late push from Lasell nearly paid off, as sophomore defender Meghan Burke (Falmouth, Mass.) picked up a defensive save at the 66:38 mark and Baker made an acrobatic save on a Samantha Taylor (Hanover, Mass.) shot with 1:57 remaining.
Saint Joseph's maintained advantages in shots (19-7), shots on goal (15-6), and penalty corners (11-8) in the semifinal triumph.
Baker was rarely tested in the victory as the second-year starter made a pair of saves to pick up her 11th win of the season. Lasell junior netminder Denise Landry (New Milford, Conn.) was outstanding in goal for the visitors with 12 saves, including perhaps a handful of highlight-reel quality stops, in the losing effort.
With the victory, Saint Joseph's improves to 16-3 in the history of the series with Lasell College, a team the Monks defeated by a 2-1 score, in overtime, at Mercy Field earlier this fall.
Saint Joseph's College is Maine's only Catholic liberal arts college, providing a supportive, personalized and career-focused education for more than 100 years. From its 474-acre campus on the shores of Sebago Lake, the College offers more than 40 undergraduate programs to a population of approximately 1,000 students. Saint Joseph's College Online provides certificates, undergraduate and advanced degrees for working adults through an online learning program. For more, visit www.sjcme.edu.