BOSTON, Mass. – The #5 seeded Rivier Raiders fell to the #1 seed Emmanuel Saints in a GNAC Conference semi final match-up 9-5, in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference tournament Semifinals Thursday evening at Roberto Clemente Field. With the loss, Rivier ends their season with a 9-8 overall mark, 6 – 4 in the GNAC. The Saints improve to 14-2 on the year with the win. Sophomore goalie Lauren White (Lynnfield, Mass.) made 17 saves to help lift the Emmanuel College women's lacrosse team past Rivier University.
Rivier got out to a hot start, jumping ahead to an early 2-0 lead behind goals from middie Rebecca Wickens (Senior - Tyngsboro, MA) and attack Elena Reilly (Sophomore - Braintree, MA). The Saints got on the board to make it 2-1 when sophomore attack Kristen Tuleja (Mansfield, Mass.) buried a free position shot at the 23:40 marker but the Raiders answered minutes later when attack Jessica Amaral (Senior - E. Providence, RI) converted a free position shot of her own to bump the visitors lead back to two goals at 3-1.
EC freshman attack Emily Baker (Stratham, N.H.) cut the lead to 3-2 with her 24th goal of the year, connecting on a free position shot before sophomore defender Sarah Higgins (Groveland, Mass.) evened the score with a man-up goal with 16:23 left in the half to make it 3-3.
The Saints used the momentum to take their first lead of the night as Tuleja buried another free position shot to lift Emmanuel on top, 4-3, with 7:36 remaining in the stanza. Higgins made it 5-3 with another man-up score with under four minutes to play but middie Amanda Wickens (Freshman - Tyngsboro, MA) capped the first half scoring with her 47th goal of the year to pull the Raiders to within one heading into halftime.
White played a huge role in the opening half, making 10 saves including several on free-position attempts to give the hosts the one-goal lead.
After almost ten minutes of scoreless action to open the second half, EC broke the lull as junior middie Sarah Wootten (Berlin, Md.) finished a Tuleja feed to bump the lead back to two goals at 6-4. Freshman middie Abaigeal Merrigan (Rye, N.H.) got into the scoring mix with her 11th marker of the season on a free position shot to make it 7-4 with 15:23 remaining.
Rivier continued to battle and a free position goal by R. Wickens with 12:58 to play pulled the visitors to a 7-5 score but White and the Saints defense stood strong, holding the Raiders scoreless over the final 12+ minutes of action.
EC would cap the scoring with goals from freshman attack Amanda Cook (Saco, Maine) and Wootten to account for the 9-5 final.
For the Raiders, A. Wickens grabbed a game-high 10 groundballs while freshman middie Savannah Lundwall (Fiskdale, Mass.) paced the Saints with a team-high six GB's.
Goalie Danielle Moran (Sophomore - San Diego, CA) played well making eight saves for Rivier while White's 17 saves tied a career-high.
The Saints advance to the GNAC Finals for the first time in the program's four-year history and will host Saint Joseph's (ME) on Saturday afternoon at 1:00 PM. The #2 Monks defeated #3 Norwich University 7-5 this evening to earn their first-ever trip to the GNAC Finals as well. Trailing 5-2, Saint Joseph's scored five unanswered goals to capture the win this evening. When the two squads met during the regular season, Emmanuel came away with a thrilling 15-14 overtime victory on the road on April 8.