PORTLAND, Maine. – Sophomore midfielder Mallory Cottam (Hope, R.I.) netted a career-high four goals, including the game-winner to give the sixth-seeded Simmons College women's lacrosse team an 11-10 victory over host second-seeded Saint Joseph's College (Maine) this evening in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference Championship Tournament Semifinals on a rain-soaked Deering Memorial Stadium in Portland, Maine. The Sharks improve to 8-11 overall, while the Monks fall to 13-4.
Simmons advances as the lowest seed to ever play in the GNAC Championship and will take on top-seeded Johnson & Wales University, a 19-8 winner over number four seed Mount Ida College. The Sharks will play the Wildcats on Sunday, May 7 at 1:00 p.m. at the Scotts Miracle-Gro Athletics Complex in Providence, R.I.
Simmons returns to the GNAC Championship match for the first time since being edged by Lasell College, 15-14, on April 28, 2013.
The Simmons defense held Saint Joseph's without a goal for the final 12:55 of play, while the offense scored four unanswered goals, including two of Cottam's four markers. She also added a ground ball and caused a turnover for the Sharks. Junior attacker Kasey Fries (Bridgewater, Mass.) found the back of the net three times, including the first two tallies of the game, to go with an assist, and three draw controls. Sophomore midfielder Ana Giarrusso (Hingham, Mass.) also netted multiple goals with a pair in addition to two ground balls, two draw controls and two caused turnovers. Sophomore midfielder Elena Bragg (Belmont, Mass.) turned in an all-around effort with four caused turnovers, six draw controls, three ground balls and a goal. Junior goalie Chyenne Yeager (Indiana, Pa.) stopped six shots, including two in the final 31 seconds to preserve the victory.
Junior Elyse Caiazzo (Scarborough, Maine) led Saint Joseph's with a game-high five goals to go with seven ground balls and two draw controls. Senior midfielder Jackie Wilson (Tiverton, R.I.) scored a pair of goals and added six ground balls, four draw controls and four caused turnovers. Sophomore middie Kayla Kelly (York, Maine) chipped in with three points on a goal and two assists in addition to six ground balls, two caused turnovers and a draw control. First year goalie Kaylin Mansir (West Gardiner, Maine) made a pair of saves.
Caiazzo scored on a feed from first year midfielder Micary Verville (Portland, Maine) to give the home team a 10-7 lead with 12:55 left in the match. The Sharks' defense, which did not allow a goal in the final 26:26 of play in their quarterfinal match, tightened up once again, while the offense began its inspired comeback.
Fries fired a shot on goal for Simmons, but hit the post at the 10:57 mark. She got another chance when Saint Joseph's turned the ball over and Fries scored with 9:47 remaining in the contest. The Sharks cut the margin to just a goal when the Monks were wide on a shot on net and Cottam went coast to coast to score her third marker of the night at 5:42 to make it 10-9. Simmons later took advantage of another Saint Joseph's turnover and called timeout at 3:31 of the period. Coming out of the timeout, Giarrusso went aggressively into the goal mouth where she slid from left to right with a tomahawk shot that found the back of the net to knot the score at 10-10 with 3:05 showing in the match. Bragg followed the score by winning the ensuing draw to give the Sharks their biggest possession of the night. Cottam made a move in front of the net and deposited a shot into the bottom left corner for her 32nd goal of the year and an 11-10 lead with 2:17 to play in the game.
Simmons looked to play out the final 90 seconds of the clock, but the Monks forced a turnover and looked to tie the match. Sophomore attacker Samantha Medlin (Kingston, Mass.) unleashed a shot with 31 seconds left, but Yeager turned it away. Saint Joseph's regained possession for one last offensive gasp as Kelly looked to score on a free position attempt with just 16 ticks left in the contest. Yeager caught the shot at point-blank range and the Sharks were able to run out the clock for the victory.
Simmons began the game the same way they ended it, by scoring four straight goals. Fries scored twice in a 90-second span to give the visitors a 2-0 lead with 21:45 showing in the first period. Cottam followed with a pair of free position goals just 72 seconds apart to increase the Sharks' cushion to 4-0. Caiazzo cracked the scoring column for the Monks at the 14:13 mark to spark a 6-1 run by the home team and a 6-5 edge with 3:18 to play in the opening half. Caiazzo scored twice more during the stretch, including a player-down tally. Giarrusso scored the final goal of the half to pull Simmons even at 6-6 with 2:14 remaining. The score remained deadlocked until the end of the half.
The Monks scored four of the first five goals to open the second stanza, including two from Caiazzo, to take a 10-7 margin, before the Sharks stormed back for the win.