NEW HAVEN, Conn. (April 15, 2017) – The Franklin Pierce University women's lacrosse team built a 9-5 first-half lead on Saturday afternoon, and later led 17-13 with just 4:57 to play before things got interesting at Jess Dow Field. Host Southern Connecticut State rattled off the game's final three goals, but could not complete the comeback, as the Ravens held on for a 17-16 road win in Northeast-10 Conference play. It was the fourth consecutive win for Franklin Pierce, which matches the program record.
With the win, Franklin Pierce improves to 7-4 (5-4 NE10), while SCSU falls to 3-9 (1-7 NE10) and has lost eight in a row.
The Ravens find themselves in an interesting situation with four regular-season games to go. Franklin Pierce sits sixth in the NE10, with eight teams set to qualify for the NE10 Championship, but the team is just one game up on a four-way logjam of teams which all have a 4-5 Conference record. Complicating things is Franklin Pierce's remaining schedule. The Ravens' final two games are against perennial national powers Adelphi and Le Moyne -- who are ranked first and third in the country, respectively -- while the preceding game comes against NE10 third-place and No. 13 nationally ranked Pace.
It all adds up to make Franklin Pierce's Tuesday night battle with Bentley the possible pivotal game of the season. Bentley is among the four teams just one game behind the Ravens, which makes the game important from both a standings standpoint, as well as from the standpoint of a potential head-to-head tiebreaker at the season's close. Game time is set for 7 p.m. on Tuesday, April 18 at Sodexo Field in Rindge. Franklin Pierce has never defeated Bentley in 18 tries and has not qualified for the NE10 Championship since 2009.
Facing a 9-5 halftime deficit on Saturday, SCSU rallied over the first 15 minutes of the second half. Three straight goals by the Owls to start the stanza, and then a 4-1 run over a span of nearly 10 minutes erased the Franklin Pierce lead, as junior midfielder Nicole Healey struck to tie the game with 14:57 to play.
Head coach Maud Lonergan called a timeout after the Healey goal and Franklin Pierce regrouped from there. The Ravens won the ensuing draw control and then rattled off the next four goals over a span of eight minutes. Junior midfielder Caitlin Sweeney (Shirley, N.Y.) -- who poured in a career-best nine goals on the day -- bookended the run, including an unassisted tally which gave the Ravens a 16-12 lead with 5:39 to play.
After junior midfielder Carolynn Keal struck for SCSU, Sweeney answered to reclaim the four-goal lead at 17-13 with just 4:57 to play, before the Owls attempted a late rally. Sophomore attack Samantha Cozzolino potted a pair of goals, before junior defender Hailey Prindle-Nelson set up freshman attack Morgan Hanks to trim the lead all the way down to 17-16 with 57 seconds remaining. The Ravens would escape however, as senior defender Kenady Kelly (Plymouth, N.H.) corralled the ensuing draw control and the Ravens held possession through the remainder of the game to nail down the win.
Earlier, Franklin Pierce scored three of the game's first four goals and six of its first eight to open up a 6-2 lead in the opening 12:55. Sweeney did the heavy lifting on the game-opening run, as she popped home four goals. The teams then alternated the final six goals of the half, as the Ravens took a 9-5 lead into the break, setting the stage for the wild second half to come.
Sweeney far and away led the way for the Ravens with her nine goals, which is tied for the third highest goal-scoring performance in school history and is the most goals by a Raven since Jordan Baillargeon '11 put home 10 against Norwich on April 10, 2008. Sweeney's nine goals are the most ever in program history against Division II competition.
Naturally, Sweeney was followed by twin sister and fellow midfielder Briana Sweeney (Shirley, N.Y.), who had four points on three goals and an assist, while juniors Julia Miller (Westfield, Mass.) and Megan Schaeffer (Brookhaven, N.Y.) scored twice each. Caitlin Sweeney added seven draw controls and three caused turnovers to her impressive afternoon, while Kelly collected four ground balls.
For SCSU, Keal led the way with five points (4-1-5), while Cozzolino (3-1-4) and Healey (4-0-4) added four each and Hanks put away three goals. Healey and Cozzolino each nabbed five draw controls, while Keal picked up six ground balls and piled up seven caused turnovers.
Senior goalkeeper Denise Hunt (Hull, Mass.) finished with nine saves against 25 shots on goal and picked up the win (7-4) for Franklin Pierce in what was not the best day for goalies in the Elm City. On the other side of the ledger, sophomore Alexandra Takacs (3-9) made just eight saves against 25 shots and took the loss in goal for SCSU.
For more information on Franklin Pierce Athletics, please visit the official website of Franklin Pierce Athletics (http://athletics.franklinpierce.edu). Also be sure to follow the Ravens through the Department of Athletics' official Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/FranklinPierceRavens), its YouTube channel (http://www.youtube.com/franklinpiercesports) and its Twitter feed (http://twitter.com/FPUathletics). Fans wishing to purchase Franklin Pierce lacrosse apparel can do so at the Department of Athletics' online store (http://athletics.franklinpierce.edu/store).