The St. Lawrence University women's lacrosse team sprinted out to an 8-1 first half lead against William Smith College on Friday afternoon in the 2013 Liberty League semifinal in Troy, NY. However, the Herons would close the gap to one in the second half, but the Saints escaped with the narrow 12-11 win and will take on nationally-ranked No. 18 Rensselaer tomorrow for a spot in the NCAA Tournament.
Senior co-captain Brigid Hurley scored a hat trick to lead the Saints, who are now 12-5 on the season. Fellow co-captain Stephanie O'Rourke and sophomore Mackenzie Collins each added two goals, while junior Regina Rogers led the defensive group with four ground balls and two caused turnovers. The Herons' season comes to an end at 10-7, with Kathleen Ragan finishing with a game-high six points (4g,2a).
"We were very solid in transition again this afternoon and took advantage of the offensive chances that we created because of that," said St. Lawrence head coach Jodi Canfield. "We knew that they would make a run, and I thought Carly (VanTassel) delivered a big goal down the stretch to curb some of their momentum."
St. Lawrence closed with a 27-20 advantage in shots and a 13-11 edge in draw controls. William Smith won the ground ball battle 31-24, with both teams committing 21 turnovers. Sophomore Adden Cunningham picked up the win in net for the Scarlet and Brown behind a six-save outing, while Marina Guigli made eight saves in the loss for the Herons.
With the game tied at 1-1 early in the first half, the Saints' erupted for a seven-goal run that spanned 21:03 to seize control up 8-1. O'Rourke gave St. Lawrence a 2-1 lead on a man-up goal, while Hannah Calvelli, Holly Noyes, Hurley, Michaela Maybee and Collins followed consecutively before O'Rourke capped the run with 5:42 to play in the half.
William Smith would show signs of life with back-to-back goals to cap the first half scoring from Katie Sipple and Marissa Potter, pulling the Herons within five at intermission, 8-3.
The teams exchanged goals throughout the opening 10:00 minutes of the second half, with Hurley's 59th goal of the year coming at 9:22 for an 11-6 lead. However, Ragan would score consecutive goals only :58 seconds apart, followed by Sipple's 25th of the year to pull William Smith back within two at 11-9.
St. Lawrence would come up with the ensuing draw control to help steady the ship, and VanTassel's 13th of the season with 7:05 remaining made it 12-9 and gave the Saints some breathing room. Unfortunately, Abbie West and Ragan would answer off of passes from Sipple, as the Herons battled back to within one at 12-11 with 3:33 to play.
The Herons would have three more possessions, including the ensuing draw control, but were done in by three turnovers, which allowed the Saints to escape with the one-goal win and a shot at the Liberty League crown. It is the second time this season that St. Lawrence has defeated William Smith in a one-goal goal (8-7 on April 12).
"We're excited to have the opportunity to play tomorrow against a nationally-ranked team for a conference title," added Coach Canfield. "I think the keys to the game will likely be draw controls and defense, and we'll need to be sharp in both areas to compete."
The 2013 Liberty League Championship game between the top-seeded Engineers of RPI and the Saints is scheduled to begin tomorrow, Saturday, May 4 at 4:00pm.