SYRACUSE, N.Y. – For the first time in school history, the Merrimack College women’s lacrosse program will hoist the conference crown.
After building a three-goal lead at the half and enduring a furious late rally from the hosts in a wild game that came down to the wire, Merrimack – the No. 7 seed that had already upset second-seeded Adelphi and sixth-seeded New Haven on the way to the title game – would ultimately hold on to stun defending league and national champion Le Moyne College, the top-ranked team in the country, and prevail by a 10-9 margin to give the Warriors their first-ever Northeast-10 Conference championship in the league tournament’s title game on Sunday at Ted Grant Field.
Two seniors – attack Amber Feminella and goalkeeper Lauren Trepaney – were joined by sophomore Taylor Darrell on the conference’s all-tournament team, and deservedly so. It was Darrell’s first-half hat trick that propelled the Merrimack offense in the early goings; Feminella, meanwhile, put an exclamation mark on arguably the greatest career in school history by scoring the game-winner late in the contest which, coincidentally enough, also put her on top of the program’s all-time scoring ledger. Trepaney, finally, would finish with a staggering 17 saves against one of the nation’s elite teams and earned the NE10 Championship Most Valuable Player award in the process.
Score: Merrimack 10, Le Moyne 9
Records: #22 Merrimack (11-8, 8-5 NE10) | #1 Le Moyne (19-1, 13-0 NE10)
Location: Ted Grant Field | Syracuse, N.Y.
How It Happened
- Merrimack would need only 25 seconds to find the back of the net on Darrell’s first of the game. Le Moyne had an answer two minutes later, but so did Darrell, who got another to go about a minute after that. The Dolphins followed suit with two more in succession to take their first lead of the game at the 10-minute mark, but the Warriors would go back-to-back with tallies from junior Olivia Colletti and sophomore Haley Bartlett to retake the lead (4-3) with 13:11 left in the half.
- The hosts would draw even again at 4-all about a minute later, but after a scoreless seven minutes and a missed chance on a Le Moyne yellow card, Darrell would notch her first-half hat trick with 5:27 on the clock to push the Warriors back on top, 5-4. Merrimack would extend its lead to a game-high three (7-4) after two goals in a 30-second span late in the half, as senior Bridget Schofield and Bartlett found the twine twice in the last 90 seconds of the half to give the Warriors a three-goal cushion at the halfway mark.
- The second half started slowly from an offensive standpoint after the two sides combined for 11 goals in the first 30 minutes. The score went unchanged through the first 10 minutes of the second stanza until Le Moyne pulled to within two goals at the 19:32 mark.
- Bartlett would come through with a huge response off another feed by junior Ally DaCosta, but the Dolphins answered shortly after to make it a two-goal game again with 15 minutes remaining.
- After being kept off the scoreboard through nearly 45-plus minutes, Feminella notched her first of the afternoon roughly three minutes later to give the Warriors a 9-6 cushion. The Warriors would have opportunities to add to that lead over the next five minutes but were unable to do so, keeping the window open for the Dolphins. The hosts converted a free position opportunity with 7:45 left to make it a two-goal game with time winding down.
- The lead was trimmed to one with 1:48 to play, but Merrimack secured the pivotal next draw control and it was Feminella who took it to the house unassisted for her record-setting goal that ultimately proved to be the game-winner.
- The game was far from over, however, as Le Moyne came up with the next draw control and got to within one after a wild scrum following a free position shot that was initially stopped. It appeared that the hosts would get another possession to try and tie it with about 15 seconds left, but a foul would give the ball back to Merrimack, and the visitors would run out the clock to seal their historic win.
Notes & Numbers
- Feminella, Darrell and Bartlett would all finish the day with three points apiece, with the latter two representing the only two hat tricks for the Warriors.
- Feminella would get just enough to claim sole possession of the program’s all-time scoring record with her 266th career point. She also is now within five goals of that all-time mark.
- Feminella would also lead all Warriors with five draw controls, while junior Danielle Schweitzer had three ground balls.
- Trepaney, one day after becoming Merrimack’s all-time leader in goalkeeper wins with her 21st victory in net, added another piece of history with 17 saves on 26 attempts, posting a .654 save percentage for the title game.
- Merrimack picked up its first victory against Le Moyne in 10 tries and handed the Dolphins, who were 19-0 coming into the contest, their first loss since last April. The Warriors are the first team since New Haven in 2009 to win a conference title other than Le Moyne or Adelphi.
- Shots: 25-37 (18-26 SOG)
- FPG: 0-4 // 1-8
- Draw Controls: 10-10 Ground Balls: 11-20
- Turnovers: 16-12 (3-9 CT) // Clears: 18-19 // 18-21
The NCAA Tournament field will be unveiled sometime Sunday evening online at NCAA.com.