Babson Park, Mass. - May 2, 2009 - Second-seeded Springfield College used a key 5-0 run midway through the second half to build a four-goal lead en route to an eventual 14-12 win over third-seeded MIT in the semifinal round of the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference Tournament at Babson College on Saturday afternoon.
With the victory, the Pride (12-5) advance to Sunday’s championship game against host and top seed Babson at 1 p.m. The Beavers will be seeking their third consecutive conference title, while Springfield will be vying for its fourth NEWMAC Championship and third in the last five years.
The defeat ends a spectacular 2009 campaign for MIT, which finishes the year with a mark of 13-5. The 13 victories is the most in the 18-year history of the Engineers’ women’s lacrosse program, surpassing the previous mark of 10 wins set back in 1995.
Pacing the Springfield attack was junior Alexandra Bazzano (Newington, Conn.), who tallied four goals while also collecting a team-high five groundballs. Sophomore Kaeleigh Lannan (Derry, N.H.) added three goals for the Pride, while senior captain Erin Doolan (Blauveit, N.Y.), senior captain Heather Dobson (Longmeadow, Mass.), and sophomore Nicole Soucie (Southington, Conn.) each contributed two goals apiece. Junior Jenn Zubkus (Dover, N.H.) chipped in with one goal, two assists, and three draw controls, and junior goalie Lauren McAulay (Yorktown, N.Y.) finished an all-around stellar performance with eight saves, four groundballs, and four caused turnovers.
MIT’s balanced attack featured three goals from sophomore Edith Reshef (Livingston, N.J.), two goals and one assist from sophomore Erica Little (Sherborn, Mass.) and senior Stephanie Brenman (Newton, Mass.), and two scores each from senior Samantha O’Keefe (Carlisle, Mass.), and sophomore Kelly Duncan (Rockville Centre, N.Y.). Junior Lynne Tye (Ithaca, N.Y.) also scored for the Engineers, while Brenman added four draw controls. Also playing well for MIT were sophomore Stephanie Leger (Vienna, Va.), who led all players with five draw controls, sophomore Alex Wright (Devon, Pa.), who added four groundballs and two caused turnovers, and sophomore goalie Molly McCartin (Arlington, Va.), who made seven saves and picked up three groundballs.
In a hard-fought contest that featured six ties and three lead changes, MIT jumped ahead 2-0 after back-to-back scores by Brenman in the first three minutes. Springfield answered with consecutive goals by Dobson and Soucie to knot the score at 2-2 – the first of four deadlocks in the opening half. The Pride eventually built the largest lead of the period after Doolan netted two straight goals to make it 6-4 with just over 10 minutes remaining, but MIT battled back to pull even again on scores by Little and O’Keefe. Bazzano then struck with 1:02 left in the session to give Springfield a slim 7-6 edge heading into the break.
Bazzano opened the second half with another score to push the Pride’s lead back to two, but Reshef tallied back-to-back strikes and O’Keefe netted her second of the game to move MIT in front, 9-8, with 21:04 left to play. However, Springfield responded with a pivotal 5-0 run over the next 11 minutes to take the largest lead of the game for either team, 13-9. Zubkus sparked the run with a goal at 19:47, followed by scores from Dobson at 17:52 and Bazzano at 16:49. Lannan then capped off the spurt with consecutive scores at 12:04 and 10:34, giving the Pride a four-goal cushion.
MIT refused to go quietly, as Duncan and Little each scored on free positions to cut their team’s deficit to two, 13-11, with 7:07 on the clock. However, Lannan punctuated a stellar second half with her third goal of the game at 1:49, all but ending the Engineers’ comeback hopes. Reshef would strike again for MIT with 24 seconds remaining to cut it back to two, but it would not be enough to prevent the eventual 14-12 Springfield win.
Sunday’s championship game will feature a rematch of Babson’s closest conference game of the season, as the Beavers edged the Pride in Springfield, 12-11, back on April 11. The last time these two teams met in the NEWMAC Tournament was in 2007, when Babson again won a grueling battle, 11-9, in the conference semifinals.