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Mount St. Mary’s women’s lacrosse introduces Long Island to ‘Mount style’ in eighth straight win, 18-6

EMMITSBURG — Since 2014, only two women’s lacrosse programs have run through the Northeast Conference with unblemished records: Bryant in 2014 and 2017 and Mount St. Mary’s in 2019.

After mowing down visiting Long Island, 18-6, on Wednesday afternoon before an announced 73 at Waldron Family Stadium, the Mountaineers are just five wins away — all against opponents they have already defeated — from joining that exclusive group.

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Mount St. Mary’s (8-2 overall and 7-0 in the league) extended its winning streak to eight games and has not lost since Feb. 20. Perhaps more importantly, the team moved one step closer to completing a perfect season against conference foes.

“That’s our goal,” graduate student defender Kaitlyn Ridenour said. “I think it’s a confidence thing. We wanted LIU because we hadn’t played LIU since the merge, and we wanted them to come here, and we wanted to welcome them to the league Mount style.”

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This spring, “Mount style” has been embodied by an explosive offense and a suffocating defense that has resulted in four double-digit wins over Northeast rivals and two by nine goals each. The team’s average margin of victory in the league is 11.3 goals.

The Mountaineers raised their conference-leading scoring average to 15.9 goals after Wednesday’s game. Senior attacker Jordan Butler led all scorers with seven points on five goals and two assists, senior attacker Alayna Pagnotta (Glenelg) torched the net for a game-high six goals and graduate student attackers Kate Kinsella and Sara Moeller (St. Paul’s) added five points each.

“We have a lot of threats,” said Butler, a Bel Air resident and John Carroll graduate. “We play a lot of the time with five attackers and two middies, and that fifth attacker adds to the threat. And our middies can finish, too, and get things done. We’re really quick and we like to possess. So it’s been really good.”

For the fourth time this season, Mount St. Mary’s induced a running clock by gaining a 10-goal lead, and that had as much to do with the defense as it did with the offense. The Sharks scored only two goals in the first half and endured droughts of 18:08 and 15:56.

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Senior goalkeeper Jenna Oler (Wilde Lake) finished with a game-high nine saves, and senior defender Devon Filippone (River Hill), senior midfielder Zoe Hurlburt (Fallston) and Ridenour limited Long Island’s three most dangerous offensive players.

Sophomore attacker Francesca Vasile-Cozzo, the Sharks’ top playmaker with 19 assists and 24 points, was held to two assists by Filippone. Graduate student midfielder Paige Sherlock, who had scored a team-high 18 goals, managed zero goals and only one assist against Hurlburt, and senior attacker Rachel Masullo, who had 10 goals and 10 assists, scored just once against Ridenour through the first 45 minutes.

“All week in practice, we worked on stepping up on their hands and eliminating their feeders because they have a lot of cutters in the middle,” said Ridenour, who added four draw controls and two ground balls. “We knew that if we could eliminate their feeds and slow the ball down coming off the draw circle, we would be successful.”

Coach Lauren Skellchock is quick to point out that the Mountaineers are not yet a finished product. When the Sharks scored three consecutive goals in a 2:31 span to close the deficit to 13-5 with 14:29 left in the second half, she called a timeout and pointedly reminded the players of their self-imposed standards.

“Regardless of the circumstances on the scoreboard, I want us to focus on every possession and every opportunity to be as perfect as we can be,” Skellchock said. “We have an eight-goal lead, but that doesn’t matter. We’re still working to make sure that we’re perfect with our slides on defense, and I felt that was starting to slip away a little bit with their run. So I felt like it was my job to make sure that they regrouped and they knew that there were greater expectations for possession, and I think they came in and made adjustments, and that was the end result of the game.”

To complete an undefeated season in the Northeast Conference, Mount St. Mary’s has to go through Central Connecticut, Bryant, Wagner (the preseason favorite to win the league), Saint Francis and Long Island. The ultimate objective, according to Butler, is earning enough wins to capture the regular-season championship and the No. 1 seed that accompanies it.

“It would be great to go undefeated in the conference, but we’re taking it game by game,” she said. “We want to be that No. 1 seed, and we want to host. We’re not looking too forward, but taking it game by game.”

Masullo finished with three goals for Long Island, and senior attacker Jamie Alvino chipped in two more. But the Sharks (7-2, 5-2) could not avoid their first loss in five games and surrendered the second-most goals in a single game in their abbreviated two-year history as a Division I program.

Long Island coach Meghan McNamara hates losing, but admitted the game was a valuable lesson for her players.

“It was eye-opening for them,” she said. “This is where we want to be. We talk about where we want to strive and our long-term goals. So it’s nice to play against Mount and see how team-oriented they were and how they worked together. I thought for our team, it was a good experience to play against the best team in our conference and realizing that this is where we’ve got to get to.”

MOUNT ST. MARY’S@CENTRAL CONNECTICUT

Saturday, 1 p.m.

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