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WOMEN'S SOCCER SEMIFINALS: Lasell Wins 1-0 Thriller, SJC Handles JWU, 4-2




#2 Saint Joseph's at #1 Lasell
Saturday, November 3, 1PM

NEWTON, Mass. –
 Senior Morgan Pinksten (Pelham, N.H.) drove home the game-winning goal with 55 seconds remaining in the first overtime Wednesday afternoon to lift the top-seeded Lasell College women's soccer team to a 1-0 victory over fourth-seeded Emmanuel College in a Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) semifinal on Taylor Field.

The Lasers avenged a 2-1 regular season finale loss at the hands of the Saints exactly one week ago at Emmanuel. The loss ended Lasell's 20-game winning streak versus GNAC opponents.

The eight-time defending champion Lasers advance to the GNAC title game for the ninth straight year, and will host second-seeded Saint Joseph's College (Maine) for the championship on Saturday (time TBA). The Monks doubled-up third-seeded Johnson & Wales University, 4-2, in Wednesday's other semifinal.

Despite the scoreless gridlock at the end of the first half, Lasell showed poised offensive control, outshooting Emmanuel 9-1. Two of the Lasers nine first stanza shots came from senior Carly Zdanek (Newton, N.J.) late in the half.

In the second half the Lasers and Saints continued the stalemate. Lasell came close midway through the half as freshman Serena Speight (Biddeford, Maine) had back-to-back shots for the Lasers in a 90 seconds span. In the 82nd minute the Saints got two quick chances to take an advantage, but shots from Natalie Dash (East Hampton, Conn.) and Bailey Maurer (Florence, Mass.) failed to get by freshman goalkeeper Angela Sanzari (North Haven, Conn.)

In overtime, the Lasers continued to pressure Saints goalkeeper Lexi Gawron (South Hadley, Mass.) with four shots. Two of those final shots came as junior Caitlin Rotonnelli(Meredith, N.H.) hit a shot from beyond the box, with the ball tipping off the glove of Gawron into the crossbar before landing directly in front of the goal where Pinksten powered home the winning shot.

Defensively the Lasers and Saints created difficulty for their opposing offenses. Lasell garnered strong performances from seniors Emma Papile (Quincy, Mass.) and Sabrina Morais(Arlington, Mass.), sophomore Korynne Provenzano (Stratham, N.H.), and freshman Syd Eggsware (Hoosick Falls, N.Y.), who kept the Saints to only three shots. The EC defense was led by junior Kaylin Deschenes (Lynn, Mass.) and sophomores Rachel Prevost (Tewksbury, Mass.), Hannah Shesky (Scituate, Mass.) and Emma Johnson (Ellington, Conn.).

Lasell outshot Emmanuel 24-3 in the victory, with Sanzari recording two saves for the Lasers, while Gawron recorded a career-high 14 saves for the Saints.

Courtesy of Lasell Athletics Communications.

#2 SJC 4, #3 JWU 2
STANDISH, Maine – Second-seeded Saint Joseph's College (15-3) defeated #3 Johnson & Wales University (14-7-1), 4-2, in a Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) Women's Soccer Tournament semifinal contest at the SJC Athletics Complex on Wednesday evening.

With the score tied 1-1 and the clock nearing the 70th minute, senior Emily Thornton (Westbrook, Maine) netted three goals in a matter of eight minutes to lift the Monks to what proved to be an insurmountable lead.

With the victory, Saint Joseph's advances to the GNAC Championship game, for the first time in 12 seasons as a member of the conference, and will travel to Newton, Mass. on Saturday for a 1:00 PM title bout with top-seeded Lasell College. The Lasers, winners of eight-consecutive GNAC Championships, defeated #4 Emmanuel College, 1-0, in overtime in the other semifinal earlier today. With the loss, the 2018 season comes to a close for Johnson & Wales.

The Monks found the board first when in the 11th minute sophomore Madeline Wood (Madison, Maine) potted her second goal of the season after cleaning up a rebound off a Haley DaGraca (Saco, Maine) shot.

The 1-0 edge remained until the 24:07 mark, when JWU senior Deja Hursey (Columbia, Md.) hit pay dirt off a Jordan Restivo (Utica, N.Y.) pass.

After nearly 45 minutes of scoreless play Thornton – who entered the game just five minutes earlier – potted her first goal of the afternoon at the 67:47 mark following a scrum in the Wildcats' goalmouth with freshman Emma Auclair (Kittery, Maine) earning the assist.

Senior Colleen Sheehan (Medway, Mass.) set up the Monks' third goal with an impressive individual effort, as she chased down a pass near the end line and delivered a crisp right-to-left cross to Thornton, who was stationed near the left goalpost and one-timed a shot into the netting to make it a 3-1 game.

In the 76th minute, Thornton capped her first collegiate hat trick with a header that floated over the head of JWU keeper Colleen Lynch (New Milford, Conn.). Sophomore Peggy Balboni (Millis, Mass.) set up the strike with a well-placed free kick from about 35 yards out on the right side of the field.

Hursey netted her second tally of the afternoon, and seventh of the season, at the 78:50 mark, but the Wildcats mustered just one shot on net in the closing 11 minutes and were unable to close the gap.

SJC freshman Adia Grogan (Kennebunk, Maine) registered 10 saves in the victory while Lynch turned away a pair of shots in the setback.

Johnson & Wales held advantages in shots (20-15), shots on goal (12-6), and corner kicks (6-0) in a losing effort.

Saint Joseph's is now 4-7-4 all-time versus Johnson & Wales University and has now defeated the Wildcats in consecutive meetings for the first time in the history of the matchup. The Monks defeated the Wildcats, 1-0 in overtime, in this year's regular-season meeting in Providence.

Courtesy of SJC Athletics Communications.

The Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) is an NCAA Division III association made up of 13 member institutions and over 3,000 student-athletes across the New England region. Founded in 1995, the GNAC annually sponsors and administers 20 championships, while balancing academic integrity, athletic opportunity and community involvement in an effort to enhance the student-athlete experience. 

– #TheGNAC –