HAMDEN, Conn. (April 25, 2008) - Sacred Heart got three goals apiece from junior Amanda Williams (Monroe, CT) and freshman Jessica Ingrilli (Wantagh, NY) as the Pioneers held off a late Monmouth rally to post a 12-11 win and advance to the Northeast Conference Championship game Sunday afternoon. The #2 seeded Pioneers went up 12-6 with just over seven minutes to play but had to hold off a late run from the #3 seeded Hawks to advance to the title game against top-seeded Quinnipiac.
The Pioneers (11-7) took the game's opening draw and got on top early as junior Mary Montesarchio (Cortlandt Manor, NY) fed Williams from behind the net for the score with less than a minute gone by. SHU took the ensuing draw and held the ball for over five minutes before Williams scored again with 24:32 on the clock for a 2-0 lead.
Senior Liz Ottey (Baltimore, MD) put Sacred Heart up 3-1 at the 15:55 mark with an unassisted marker and junior Meghan McCaffrey (Garden City, NY) scored on a free position for the Pioneers to increase their lead to 4-1 just 22 seconds later. MU's Ashley Waldman scored an apparent goal on the Hawks next possession, but she was called for a dangerous follow through and handed a yellow card with 15:01 left. SHU's Ingrilli made it a four goal lead burying a feed from sophomore Carissa Hauser (East Northport, NY) with just under nine minutes to go.
Monmouth (13-5) put together a two-goal rally to cut the lead to 5-3, thanks to a pair of 8meter goals by Rachel Feirstein and Waldman. The Pioneers answered back with two of their own before the halftime horn as Williams buried her third off a free position at 1:22 followed by Ingrilli's second off a feed from senior Katie Salamone (Baltimore, MD) with 50 ticks left.
The Hawks opened the second half with a marker off the stick of Carissa Franzi but SHU put together a 3-1 run into the 10th minute for a 10-5 advantage. Ingrilli notched her third off a pass from Williams while McCaffrey and Salamone each buried unassisted goals. MU's Meghan Nutter made it 10-6 at 9:26 with her second unassisted goal of the afternoon but SHU followed with a pair to build their biggest lead of the day.
Hauser buried an 8meter attempt at 8:44 followed by a Salamone unassisted tally at 7:04 for a 12-6 lead. The Hawks refused to go quietly however and scored the game's final five to make it a one-goal game. Jessica Picciuto started the run at 6:29 followed by two from NEC Rookie of the Year Rachel Feirstein at 4:57 and 4:31 to make it 12-9. SHU's defense kept the Hawks in check over the next three minutes but the Hawks were able to toss in two more as Picciuto scored at 1:15 and Fiersten scored again but with just three ticks left.
The Pioneers avenge three-straight losses to the Hawks in the tournament with Friday's win as they advance to the title game for the second time in the last three years. SHU lost to the Bobcats in their regular season match-up, 10-9, at home. The championship game is slated for a 12:00 pm start on Sunday at Quinnipiac with both teams looking for their first league title.