MANCHESTER, N.H. – Sophomore Erin Marshall (Woburn, Mass.) submitted a career day with a game-high seven points to lead the 12th-ranked and third-seeded Saint Anselm College women's lacrosse team to a 17-10 victory against sixth-seeded Bentley University in Wednesday afternoon's Northeast-10 Championship first round tilt at Grappone Stadium.
The Hawks, who also defeated Bentley, 12-9, during the regular season back on March 19, improve to 13-3. It is the first Northeast-10 Championship win in program history for Saint Anselm, which is making its sixth appearance in the conference tournament, including its second straight. The Hawks advance to the semifinal round where they will take on the second-seeded and fourth-ranked University of New Haven at Adelphi University, which will host the remainder of the tournament. The Chargers pulled out a 12-10 win at home against the Hawks back on April 5. Saint Anselm, which has won four of its last five, including three straight, adds to an already-program record with its 13th victory of the season after winning 10 games a year ago. The Falcons end their season at 8-9.
Marshall matched her career high with four goals and handed out a personal-best three assists for a career-high seven points. She also added four draw controls, three caused turnovers and three groundballs. Sophomore Caitlin Villareal (Portsmouth, R.I.) also contributed heavily to the offense with five goals.
Saint Anselm came flying out of the gate as two straight goals from Villareal and another from junior Kaitlyn Stazinski (Pembroke, Mass.) off a feed from classmate Sarah Doherty (Franklin, Mass.) staked the Hawks to a 3-0 lead just 2:17 in.
Erin O'Connor put Bentley on the board at the 24:35 mark, but Marshall answered just 37 seconds later with a pair of goals 23 seconds apart that opened the Saint Anselm lead to 5-1 with 23:35 remaining in the opening half.
The Falcons then responded with a 5-1 stretch of their own as O'Connor found the back of the net just 37 seconds after Marshall's second goal to begin the run. After two more Bentley goals, sophomore Michelle Kudlate (Waltham, Mass.) found Villareal for her third of the half, but Kelsey Howard answered with a pair just 1:01 apart to knot the game at 6-all with 11:29 left.
Kudlate then set up goals from Villareal and junior Kelly Pickett (Chelmsford, Mass.) before Doherty buried a free-position chance to open up some breathing room for the Hawks at 9-6 with 7:53 to play. Howard netted her third of the stanza with 4:23 on the clock and Bentley would pull to within 9-7 at the break.
Pickett opened the second-half scoring with a free-position goal just 1:28 in, but consecutive tallies from Howard sliced the Bentley deficit to 10-9 with 23:20 remaining. Saint Anselm would respond by scoring seven of the game's final eight goals, including five straight, to seal the victory.
Pickett connected on a feed to Marshall, who found the back of the net to give the Hawks some insurance at the 19:47 mark. Marshall set up Stazinski 20 seconds later and then handed out assists to junior Marissa Daly (Marshfield, Mass.) and Villareal to expand the Saint Anselm lead to 14-9 with 14:16 to play.
Pickett then scored before Howard halted the run with a free-position strike with 8:31 on the clock. Marshall answered with a free-position goal of her own to make it a six-score game with 3:18 left. Daly added an exclamation point to the win as she collected a feed from Doherty and scored on a behind-the-back shot with just over 11 seconds to play.
Sophomore goalkeeper Jane Bunn (St. John's, Fla.) stopped 11 of the 21 shots she faced, while Ally Dorman turned away nine of the 24 shots that came her way in the first 47:18 for Bentley. Lauren Ochs allowed two goals and did not make a save in the final 12:42.
Bentley held a 32-31 edge in shots, while Saint Anselm owned a slight 15-14 advantage in draw controls. The Hawks were 5 of 8 on free positions, while the Falcons were 4 of 10.
The Hawks return to action Saturday, May 3 at 2 p.m. when they take on second-seeded New Haven at Adelphi's Motamed Field. Stay up-to-date with the latest news, including game previews and recaps, directly from the Saint Anselm College athletic department by liking us on Facebook and following us on Twitter @STAHawks.