The Mount St. Mary’s women’s lacrosse team’s habit of embarking on significant runs this spring re-emerged Thursday.
The Mountaineers scored seven unanswered goals over a span of 5 minutes, 18 seconds – including four in a 52-second stretch – in the first half and cruised to an 18-4 pasting of visiting Bryant in a Northeast Conference tournament semifinal at Waldron Family Stadium.
Mount St. Mary’s (16-2), the top seed in the playoffs after capturing the regular-season title for the fourth time, will meet No. 2 seed Wagner in Saturday’s title game at noon. The program will contend for its first tournament crown since 2012 and seek to capture its first title since 2005.
Sophomore attacker Jordan Butler scored three of her four goals during the Mountaineers’ 7-0 spurt, which was tied for fifth among the team’s largest of the season. The run proved especially timely as it occurred after freshman attacker Emily Diaz scored on a spin move to give the Bulldogs a 1-0 lead with 24:27 left in the first half.
“We never play individually,” said Butler, a Bel Air resident and John Carroll graduate who ranks second in the school’s single-season history in goals with 58 and chipped in three assists. “We’re just always looking to work together, always congratulating our teammates after a goal. The momentum just always carries onto the next one.”
Senior midfielder Emily Davis, who scored three times and had five draw controls, said the early 1-0 deficit may have actually been a motivator for Mount St. Mary’s.
“I think honestly, it kind of put a little fire under our butts to get going and to start doing what we know to do,” she said. “We were very nervous coming into this because last year we lost in the semifinals to Bryant. So I think there was a little bit of nervous anxiety, and I think after that, we were like, ‘Let’s go. We know what we have to do.’ ”
As prolific as the offense was, the defense has surrendered a total of seven goals to Bryant in two games. Senior goalkeeper Jillian Petito (seven saves) was rarely tested. Coach Lauren Skellchock credited junior defender Kaitlyn Ridenour with shutting out junior attacker Caitlin Breglia and forcing her to finish with more turnovers (two) than shots (one). Skellchock also praised Davis for limiting senior attacker Jess DeMeo to zero goals on seven shots and a lone assist.
“We’ve been playing great defense this entire year,” Skellchock, a Century and Johns Hopkins graduate, said. “We have a phenomenal goalie, a core group of defenders and midfielders that continue to get better. … The matchups are so key for us, and they did a tremendous job.”
Freshman attacker Emily Diaz was the only multi-point producer for the Bulldogs (8-9), scoring twice. Coach Brianna Roche said the team’s 9-of-24 showing on draws contributed to too much work for the defense and not enough for the offense.
“We struggled off the draw,” she said. “We had a hard time coming up with possessions off the draws and with 50-50 balls, and ultimately, we couldn’t play enough offense because of that.”
No. 2 seed Wagner 14, No. 3 seed Robert Morris 13: Sophomore midfielder Madeline Seims scored a game-high six goals, and the Seahawks weathered a last-gasp comeback effort by the Colonials to advance to Saturday’s title game for the sixth year in a row.
Robert Morris (12-5) scored three of the game’s last four goals, including the last two, to draw within one with 73 seconds left in the second half. But senior defender Maggie Jent won the ensuing draw, and Wagner (14-3) was able to run out the clock and cement the win.
Seims got help from sophomore midfielder Erin Kerstetter, who totaled one goal, three assists and seven draw controls. Senior attacker Megan Drum scored two goals and had eight draw controls, while Jent caused four turnovers and picked up one ground ball for the Seahawks, who will look to add another tournament crown to the ones they won in 2016 and 2018.
Junior attacker Mackenzie Gandy, a Baltimore resident and Dulaney graduate, paced the Colonials with four goals and two assists, and twin sister Melanie Gandy chipped in with one goal and four assists. Junior goalkeeper Katelyn Miller, a Bel Air resident and C. Milton Wright graduate, finished with a game-best 12 saves.