NEWTON, Mass. – The Lasell field hockey team continued its banner season with a 2-1 victory over defending conference champions Saint Joseph's College of Maine Saturday afternoon at Grellier Field. Lasell improves to 11-2 on the season, their best record in program history, and remains undefeated at 5-0 in conference play. Lasell and Simmons College now stand as the only two unbeaten teams in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC).
The Monks suffer their first regular season conference loss since September 17 of last season, where the Wildcats of Johnson & Wales came on top with a 2-1 result. The Monks went on to win their first-ever GNAC title, and made it to the second round of the NCAA Tournament just a year ago. Saint Joseph's dips to 8-4 this season, and 4-1 in the GNAC with the loss.
The win between the two GNAC teams comes as a first for the Lasers since the 2013 season, where Lasell came out with the 2-1 victory.
Neither team was able to put the ball in the back of the net in the first half, supported by strong defensive backs that both stand at the top of the GNAC in goals against average. Lasell headed into the match holding a .75 goals against average, while Saint Joseph's averaged 1.11 per game.
The Lasers, who came into the contest averaging 4.75 goals per game, which ranks first in the country across NCAA Division III, first tested the Monks in the 4th minute, as senior Leah Sullivan (Mansfield, Mass.) took a bid on net in the midst of chaos in front of the visitors' cage. Megan Baker (Gorham, Maine), Monks junior keeper, was there to make the stop, to hold the game scoreless.
Baker and Lasell senior Denise Landry (New Milford, Conn.) kept both teams at bay for the remainder of the first half, as Landry's defense forced her to make just one save in the frame. With the result, Landry stays atop the GNAC in save percentage, goals against, and goals against average.
The Lasers came flying out of the gates after halftime, and needed just 1:40 to put their first goal on the board. Following a penalty corner by Samantha Taylor (Hanover, Mass.), Cailin Flannery (Medford, N.J.) dished a pass to Nikki Pignone (Ipswich, Mass.) who converted the pass for her 14th goal of the season. Flannery's assist gives her 12 assists on the year, factoring into her .92 assists per game, a statistic that ranks second in the country.
The Lasers rode momentum in the ensuing moments, not allowing a single offensive play for Saint Joseph's until the 40th minute. Taylor lined up for another corner at the 37th, where Flannery tried to take a crack on net, but was blocked by a Monks' defender, rewarding Lasell with another corner. Taylor resumed the line once more, and dished the ball over to senior Erica Connors (South Berwick, Maine), who found Sullivan's stick for the second goal of the game, and the 2-0 advantage. The goal for Sullivan was her fifth of the season.
From the 40th minute on, Landry was an absolute force for Lasell, saving six shots on net by the Monks. In the 43rd, the visitors were forced to make a goalkeeper change, as Kaylin Mansir (Gardiner, Maine) strapped up and came into the box for Saint Joseph's.
Saint Joseph's broke the shutout with just three minutes left to go in regulation, as Kylee Veilleux (Sabattus, Maine) took a corner from Kayla Kelly (York, Maine) for her first goal of the season. The 2-1 result stood throughout, securing the undefeated conference streak for Lasell.
Landry made seven stops in the full 70 minutes of play to earn the win in the cage for Lasell. For the Monks, Baker took the loss with one save, before counterpart Mansir was not contested in 26 minutes of relief.
Lasell hops out of conference action on Wednesday when they travel to Smith College for a 4:30 p.m. start. Saint Joseph's will also take on a non-conference opponent in their next tilt, facing Gordon College on the road at 4:00 p.m.
COURTESY OF LASELL COLLEGE SPORTS INFORMATION
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.