Smithfield, R.I. (May 3, 2018) – Mount St. Mary's University nearly erased a late four-goal deficit, but top-seeded Bryant was able to hold off the Mount and escape with a 9-8 victory in the Northeast Conference (NEC) Semifinals on Thursday afternoon at the Bryant Track & Turf Complex.
Bryant carried a 6-5 advantage into the second half, and Caitlin Breglia added to the Bulldogs' lead with back-to-back scores early in the frame to extend the lead to 8-5. Melissa Wamp's second goal of the tilt at the 11:36 mark made it a 9-5 Bryant advantage.
The Mountaineers didn't have much luck in the second half, hitting a pair of pipes and one crossbar, as they were held scoreless in the opening 23 minutes of the stanza.
The Mount finally converted with 6:59 on the clock as Nicole Voci sent a pass to Alayna Pagnotta in front of net, where the rookie buried one to end the scoring drought and bring the Mount within three scores.
With just over three minutes remaining, Marley Heller continued the Mount's momentum with her second goal of the contest to cut the deficit to 9-7.
On the ensuing draw, Lauren Britton battled her way to the loose ball and picked up the draw control to gain key possession for the Bulldogs. Bryant was able to work the ball around in the offensive end and run out the final 1:35 on the clock, as the Bulldogs escaped with the 9-8 win.
Mount St. Mary's, which earned its first NEC Playoff berth since 2015, closes out the season at 10-7 overall, and finished NEC play with a 5-2 mark. The Mount's 10 victories were the most for the program since the 2007 campaign.
Bryant improved to 12-5 on the year with the win, and advances to the NEC Championship game on Saturday.
Jillian Petito, who was named the NEC Defensive Player of the Year on Wednesday night, led the Mount's strong defensive effort with a 13-save effort in goal, which was her 11th double-digit save performance of the season. Defenders Kaitlyn Ridenour and Maggie Allison chipped in a game-high three caused turnovers apiece for the stingy Mount defense.
On the offensive end, Pagnotta, Miller and Heller each netted two goals, while Taylor Carhart (1g) and Beanie Colson (1a) rounded out the team's scoring. Colson also added a pair of draw controls in the tilt, as she tied Sarah Schaffner's nearly 20-year old record for most draw controls in a single season (70). Jannel Daufenbach picked up a team-high three draws, and she rounds out her career as the program's leader for most career draw controls (191).
For Bryant, Breglia netted a team-high three goals, while Wamp and Jess DeMeo chipped in a pair apiece. Sam Santeramo stopped 12 shots to record the win between the pipes for the Bulldogs.
Bryant outshot the Mount 34-29 in the contest, and also held advantages in both draw controls (10-9) and ground balls (21-13).
After a five-plus minute scoreless stretch to open the contest, Miller registered the game's first goal at the 24:37 mark. The Mount followed with another tally with 17:38 on the board as Colson found Pagnotta with a nice feed to the middle for the goal, making it a 2-0 Mount advantage.
The Mountaineers nearly made it a three-goal game minutes later, but Colson's free-position shot was turned away on a nice save from Santeramo. The Bulldogs pushed the ball downfield in transition, and Britton converted on the other end for the team's first goal of the tilt.
The teams traded three goals apiece over the ensuing 10 minutes of play, with Miller, Heller and Carhart tallying the Mount's goals during the stretch.
Bryant was able to control play over the final five minutes of the half, closing the frame with the final three goals, including DeMeo's go-ahead goal with 2:54 remaining which gave the Bulldogs their first lead of the game.
A late surge from Bryant gave the Bulldogs an 18-13 shot advantage at the half, while the Mount controlled play in the draw circle, winning 7-of-12 draw controls.