April 25, 2012

Blue Lacrosse Downs Smith to Advance to NEWMAC Semis

WELLESLEY, Mass. -- The Wellesley College lacrosse team used a late first half run, en route to a 19-14 victory over Smith College in the opening round of the New England Women's and Men's Conference tournament on Wednesday afternoon at Wellesley. The  fourth-seeded Blue, now 6-10, advance to the NEWMAC semifinals on Saturday, April 28, at 12pm, when they travel to Babson to face the hosts in the NEWMAC semifinals. The fifth-seeded Pioneers finish their season at 9-13.

Trailing 6-4 midway through the first half, Wellesley closed out the stanza with eight unanswered goals to take over the game. The first half advantage proved to be the difference maker, as Smith held a slight 8-7 edge in the second half scoring. The Blue will now look ahead to Saturday's semifinal, a rematch of the tightly contested regular season finale in which Babson topped Wellesley 13-11.

Smith grabbed a 1-0 lead in the opening seconds of play with a goal from Mckenzie Hessel. Wellesley tied the score at 1-1 less than a minute later as Brit Mscisz found the back of net with an assist from Nathalie Gruet. The Pioneers followed with a 4-1 run over the next 10 minutes, including goals from Becky Bracken, Meaghan Fileti, Mk Pasini, and Sofia Nakhnikian-Weintraub, to take a 5-2 advantage with 19:00 remaining on the clock.

The remainder of the period belonged to Wellesley. Back-to-back goals from Gruet and Meredith Roy trimmed the lead to 5-4 at the 15-minute mark. Two minutes later an unassisted point from Rachel Hanscom sparked the 8-0 run for the Blue, including two more goals from Hanscom, two each from Roy and Allison Robbins, and a second score from Mscisz, giving Wellesley a 12-6 lead at the break.

Smith trimmed the lead to 15-11 in the opening minutes of second half, with two more goals from Pasini, another from Hessel, and one each from Jenny Estes and Jessica Lillquist. But the Pioneers could get no closer as Wellesley scored four of the next five goals, taking a 19-12 advantage with 8:11 on the clock. The Pioneers added two more goals in the closing minutes of the game, but the Blue held on for the 19-14 win.

Wellesley's offense dominated the contest, outshooting the Pioneers, 46-26. Smith did hold a 20-15 edge in draw controls, but 17 turnovers from the Pioneers, including 10 in the first half, erased any advantage.

Between the pipes, Wellesley's Tya Logan earned the victory, her fifth of the season, making nine saves. Smith's Alina Pechacek came away with 15 saves, facing 46 shots from the Blue.

Pasini and Fileti led the Pioneers offensively with three goals each. Hessel added two goals, an assist, and five draw controls. Braken netted two, while grabbing three ground balls and seven draw controls. Lillquist added two goals, two ground balls, and five draw controls.

For the Blue, Hanscom tallied seven points on four goals and three assists, while Roy tallied six points on five goals and one assist to go along with four draw controls. Mscisz recorded six points as well, with three goals and three assists. Gruet and Robbins chipped in two goals each. Gruet also grabbed five ground balls, while Robbins snagged three, along with four draw controls.