HAWKS CAPTURE SECOND CONSECUTIVE NEC TOURNAMENT WITH 9-7 WIN OVER BRYANT
WEST LONG BRANCH, N.J.- Monmouth University (13-6, 9-0 NEC) women’s lacrosse team won their second straight Northeast Conference Tournament Championship with a hard fought 9-7 win over Bryant University (10-8, 6-3 NEC) on Sunday at Kessler Field.
Senior Cassie Campasano (West Islip, N.Y./West Islip) was named to the All-Tournament team after leading the team in goals with four, all in the first half. Senior defender Gianna D’Urso (Fairfield, N.J./West Essex Regional) was named Tournament MVP after spearheading a defense that allowed 8.5 goals over the weekend and finishing with three ground balls and three caused turnovers. Junior midfielder Kaleigh Gibbons (Candia, N.H./Central) sophomore defender Gracie Williams (Reston, Va./Herndon) and freshman Marial Pierce (Middleburg, Va./St. John’s Catholic Prep) rounded out the All-Tournament Team members for the Hawks.
Monmouth earns one of 13 automatic bids into the Division I women's lacrosse championship. The field of 26 will be announced May 5 with first round play scheduled for May 10-12.
“This year was a more exciting victory for us because we’ve been looking at it since the last day we walked off the field as NEC Champions,” said MU head coach Denise Wescott. “We’ve been working at it for a long time. It was a fun win. More than anything we won it because we played well together. We had so many players who made plays for us today. It takes a whole team to win a championship.”
After MU led at the break 5-4, Bryant came out and tied the game under a minute into the game. Sophomore Emily Barbieri (Parsippany, N.J./DePaul Catholic) gave the Hawks a 6-5 lead then Pierce pushed the advantage to two with her second goal of the game with 13:31 to play. Bryant’s Kimberley Sniffen cut the lead to one less than a minute later, but Pierce came back with an unassisted marker with 10:06 to play putting MU ahead 8-6. Sophomore Karlee Dean (Medford Lakes, N.J./Shawnee) added an insurance goal with 8:57 to play and the Hawks led 9-6. Sniffen scored on a feed from Lauren Descalzo with 4:27 to play but the Bulldogs would net no closer. Sophomore goalie Katie Donohoe (Peterborough, Ontario/Holy Cross Secondary) made a save on a free position attempt with 1:43, one of her six second-half saves.
Monmouth got on the board early as Gibbons found Campasano just 41 seconds into the game to put the Hawks up 1-0. Bryant’s Lisa Vendel tied it two minutes later but the Hawks received back to back goals from Pierce and Campasano to push the lead to 3-1. After a Descalzo goal got Bryant to within one again, Campsasano scored twice in four minutes to give MU its largest lead of the game, 5-2 with 8:16 to play. Descalzo and Vendel combined for a pair of Bulldog goals in the final 3:09 to get to within one.
Campasano led all scorers with four goals while Pierce had three goals. Gibbons finished with four assists, three ground balls and three caused turnovers in the win.
The win marked Monmouth’s 12th straight victory, setting a new Hawk record. Monmouth has now won the NEC Championship five times, 2001, 2006, 2007, 2012 and 2013.
Sniffen finished with three goals to lead Bryant while Descalzo and Vendel each had a pair of goals. Goaltender Brianna Watt had five saves and five ground balls in net for the Bulldogs.