Pioneers Take On Stags in NCAA Play-In
April 30, 2009
2009 NCAA Play-In Game - Sacred Heart Pioneers (12-6) NEC Champions vs. Fairfield Stags (16-2) MAAC Champions
Saturday, May 2, 2009 - 3:00 pm - Fairfield, University
Live Stats and Live Video Available
Pioneers Take On Crosstown Stags for NCAA Spot... The Sacred Heart Pioneers are coming off their second-straight Northeast Conference Championship as they take on the Metro-Atlantic Athletic Conference Champion Fairfield Stags in the NCAA Play-In Game. The Pioneers hosted last weekend's NEC Tournament and beat Monmouth, 13-7, and Quinnipiac, 11-6, to claim their second-consecutive league title. The Stags ran through the MAAC regular season unbeaten and claimed their league title with wins over Manhattan, 20-8, and Marist, 19-9, last weekend. SHU and Fairfield met earlier this season with the Stags posting a 16-11 win at home. Since that lost, the Pioneers have posted an 11-1 record. The Stags come in having won 10-straight. The winner of Saturday's game will move on to the NCAA Tournament.
Sacred Heart in the NCAA Tournament... This is the Pioneers second appearance in the NCAA Play-In game. SHU took on the America East Champion Boston University in the 2008 play-in game. The #6 ranked Terriers posted a 15-3 win at home to earn a berth in the tournament field. The Northeast Conference is 0-8 all-time in NCAA Tournament play.
Last Meeting with Fairfield... Sacred Heart got two goals and four assists from senior Mary Montesarchio and three goals apiece from senior Amanda Williams and junior Carissa Hauser but came up short losing to the Fairfield Stags, 16-11, Tuesday afternoon. The Stags outscored SHU 12-2 in the first half en route to their fifth-straight win while the Pioneers drop their fourth-straight. Fairfield sprinted out of the gates to a 6-0 lead by the 18:36 mark of the first half. The Pioneers finally broke the Stag streak with back-to-back Williams scores at 13:20 and 12:44 but that would be all that the Sacred Heart offense could manage over the first 30 minutes of action. The Stags closed the first half with six more goals, three coming off the stick of Kristen Coleman. Coleman, who finished the first half with four markers, picked up right were she left off to start the second half, helping extend the Stags lead to 14-2 as she and Abbey Goodwin scored in the first five minutes. The Pioneers tried to mount a rally, outscoring the Stags 9-2 over the final 25 minutes but the deficit proved too much to overcome. Montesarchio scored twice in the half and tacked on three of her assists. Freshmen Kate Kmiotek and Kaitlin Rochler picked up goals in the loss.
2009 NEC Champions... The Sacred Heart Pioneers are once again Northeast Conference Champions after an identical run through the NEC Tournament as in 2008. The Pioneers posted a 7-1 NEC mark for the second-straight season to claim a share of the regular season title and earned the #1 seed for the first time in program history via a tie-breaker with Quinnipiac. Sacred Heart faced the Monmouth Hawks in the semifinal round and posted a 13-7 win on the strength of 10 combined goals between seniors Amanda Williams and Mary Montesarchio and junior Carissa Hauser. The Pioneers were matched up with the Quinnipiac Bobcats in a re-match of last season's title game. SHU took control early on and used some solid defense to hold QU to their lowest point total of the year to claim back-to-back titles with an 11-6 win.
NEC All-Tournament Team Honors... Senior Mary Montesarchio was named the 2009 NEC Tournament MVP after collecting seven total points, five ground balls, five draw wins and four caused turnovers to lead the top-seeded Pioneers to the 2009 NEC Championship. Joining Montesarchio on the all-tournament team was fellow senior Amanda Williams, juniors Jackie Pierce, Cori Horelik and Chelsea Wagner. Williams scored six goals with an assist over the weekend while Horelik had a career-best five goals against Quinnipiac in the championship game. Pierce and Wagner helped spearhead a defensive effort that allowed seven goals to Monmouth and six goals to Quinnipiac, their season-low.
Amanda Williams - NEC Player of the Year... A second team all-conference honoree in each of the last two seasons, Sacred Heart senior Amanda Williams become the first Pioneer to earn NEC Player of the Year accolades. With a break-out season, she emerged as the league's most prolific scorer leading the NEC with 57 goals and 79 points. Both marks set new single-season school Division I records and boosted her career totals to 136 goals and 178 points. Williams currently ranks seventh nationally in goals scored (57) and eighth in points (79). She is 12th in points per game (4.39) and 19th in goals per game (3.17). The senior attacker, who was a two-time NEC Player of the Week, has scored at least twice in 14 straight games heading into the NCAA Play-In. She finished third on the circuit with 13 free position goals and sits third on the Pioneers with 22 caused turnovers. Williams, who hails from Monroe, CT, finished the NEC Tournament with six goals and an assist to earn a spot on the all-tournament team after helping the Pioneers to the title. Williams was the 2008 NEC Tournament MVP after helping SHU to their first-ever title a year ago.
Pioneers Dominate All-NEC Awards... The Sacred Heart Pioneers led the league with six players garnering All-NEC honors in addition to winning the program's first player of the year award. Seniors Amanda Williams and Mary Montesarchio were joined by junior Chelsea Wagner on the All-NEC First Team while juniors Carissa Hauser, Jackie Pierce and freshman Kate Kmiotek garnered All-NEC Second Team honors. Head Coach Laura Cook was named the NEC Coach of the Year after leading SHU to the #1 seed.
Offensive Triple Threat... The Pioneer offense is led by the trio of attackers Amanda Williams and Carissa Hauser and midfielder Mary Montesarchio who all rank among the NEC's top-10 scorers. The three all registered over 50 points and 30 goals on the year. Williams has 57 points and 79 goals on the year while posting a .500 shot percentage (57g-114sht). Hauser has collected 68 points on 38 goals and a team-leading 30 assists. Montesarchio has 35 goals and 20 assists. The trio is averaging 11.2 points combined per game.
Williams and Montesarchio in the SHU Record Book... Seniors Amanda Williams and Mary Montesarchio are the two most prolific scorers in SHU's Division I history. Montesarchio is third on the all-time list with 185 career points coming on 97 goals and 88 assists. She holds the school records for career assists (88) and assists in a season (38 - 2008). Williams is right on her teammates heels with 178 career points on 136 goals and 42 assists. Her 79 points this season is a SHU Division I record and is third on the all-time list, just eight off the all-time mark. Her 57 goals this season and 135 career markers are both SHU Division I records and third on the all-time list. She is eight goals off the all-time SHU record.
Wagner Among the Nation's Top-GK's... Junior goalkeeper Chelsea Wagner leads the NEC and is among the NCAA leaders in goals against average, saves and save percentage. Wagner's 8.40 gaa is tops in the NEC and ranks her fifth in the nation. Her .552 save percentage also leads the league and is second in the NCAA heading into this weekend. Her 181 saves and 10.06 saves per game ranks her 15th in the country. Her 8.40 gaa this season is the third lowest for a season in Pioneer history while her 31 career victories in the cage is one away for tying the school mark for career wins.
Pioneer Rookies... A pair of Sacred Heart rookies have made their presence felt this season. Midfielder Kate Kmiotek and attacker Alicia Fuchs are fourth and fifth on the team in scoring this season. Kmiotek, who earned All-NEC second team honors, has 18 goals and six assists and leads the team with 25 caused turnovers and 41 ground balls. Fuchs has 21 goals and nine assists and is tied for the team lead with three game-winners.
SHU WLax History... This is the Pioneer's 12th year of competition in the Northeast Conference. Sacred Heart has qualified for the NEC Tournament six times and posts a 108-85 Division I record. The Pioneers have posted 10 or more wins four times and set a school record of 12 wins in each of the last seasons.