WEST LONG BRANCH, N.J.- Monmouth blew open what was a one-goal halftime lead to cruise to a 12-3 win over Sacred Heart on Sunday at Kessler Field. With the win, MU improved to 9-6 on the season and 7-0 in NEC play, Sacred Heart fell to 5-9 and 3-4 in league play.
Monmouth took a 3-2 lead with 41 seconds left in the first half on a Kaleigh Gibbons (Candia, N.H./Central/RMU) then scored nine unanswered goals in the final 23 minutes of the game to clinch the victory. Sophomores Emily Barbieri (Parsippany, N.J./DePaul Catholic) and Karlee Dean (Medford Lakes, N.J./Shawnee) tallied 5 points a piece while the Monmouth defense, led by seniors Gianna D’Urso (Fairfield, N.J./West Essex) and Kirstyn Urbas (Sewell, N.J./Washington Twp.) held SHU to eight shots on goal, created 22 miscues and allowed just one goal in the second half.
“Sacred heart has always come at us hard, so to us it is always an important game,” said Head Coach Denise Wescott. “Every game is important game but it was nice to see we settled in and did some things. “I was amazed at how well our defense played. Everything they tried at us we just turned them back. Besides that we just creating a lot of turnovers. That’s probably the most I’ve seen our defense come up with possession and not even give up shots.”
Before the game, D’Urso, Cassie Campasano (West Islip, N.Y./West Islip/Jacksonville), Urbas and Sam Savona (Jackson, N.J./Jackson Liberty/FDU) were honored for playing in their last regular season game on Kessler Field. Fifth-year Erica Abendschoen (West Caldwell, N.J./James Caldwell) is Monmouth’s fifth senior, but elected to celebrate senior day with her incoming class last season.
The Hawks pushed the halftime lead to 4-2 on Dean’s first goal of the game but Sacred Heart cut the lead to one after winning the ensuing draw and going right to goal. From there it was all Hawks as Monmouth scored nine straight over the final 23:05 of the game. Savona scored first and Dean scored three of the next four goals and Monmouth’s lead ballooned to 9-3. Barbieri scored twice in the final 10 minutes and junior Danielle Rakowitz (Montville, N.J./Montville) finished the scoring with her second goal of the game.
Gibbons gave the Hawks a 3-2 first half lead when she took a pass from Abendschoen and beat the SHU netminder with 41 seconds left. Savona got things going at the 23:48 mark but Sacred Heart score back to back goals over a three minute period to take a 2-1 advantage. Stathius knotted the game after beating two defenders and going to goal with a low shot with 5:21 to play in the half. The Hawks outshot the Pioneers 12-5 and had three shots ring off the crossbar early in the period.
Barbieri’s goals and points were a career-high while Dean’s five points and four goals were also career-marks for the sophomore. MU goaltender Katie Donohoe (Peterborough, Ontario/Holy Cross Secondary) made five saves and had two caused turnovers to go with five ground balls in the win. D’Urso finished with three caused turnovers and a pair of ground balls to lead the MU defense.
Sacred Heart’s three goals were from three different players while goalie Kelly Keenan had 12 saves in the loss.
Monmouth heads to Bryant on Friday for a 7 p.m. for a pivotal tilt with the Bulldogs.