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Déjà vu: Sacred Heart takes NEC title from Quinnipiac again
As the clock wound down, cheers of “three-peat, three-peat” NOT CARESSED the stadium as Sacred Heart defeated Quinnipiac 12-7 in the Northeast Conference Championship Game.
The 2010 season marks the third straight year in which Quinnipiac finished runner-up to Sacred Heart in the NEC. The score was deadlocked at halftime; the outcome simply came down to NEC tournament MVP, Pioneer goalkeeper Chelsea Wagner making saves when she needed to.
Despite the defeat, defensemen Kaitlyn Kelly and Kim Davis as well as midfielder Lauren Matuszczak were named to the NEC All-Tournament team. The Bobcats finished another impressive season 10-7, with their only two defeats in conference coming at the hands of Sacred Heart.
“I am very proud of my team for everything they accomplished this year,” Quinnipiac head coach Danie Caro said. “They were over-achievers in a lot of ways, since most people wrote us off after losing a large senior class last year. I am especially happy for the seniors, who graduate with the best four-year won-loss record in the history of the program. They made it to the NEC Championship game three years in a row, and have consistently been among the top performers in the NEC over the course of their career.”
The ref set the ball down for the opening draw on a rainy, cold afternoon at Sacred Heart’s Campus Field. With possession, the ball swung around to Bobcat senior Katie Latonick. Quinnipiac’s leading feeder showed off an impressive move spinning middle and dumping off left to Matuszczak against the Pioneer double team. The junior midfielder took the pass, moved in front of the net uncontested, and deposited the shot into the back of the net for the quick 1-0 lead.
Quinnipiac seemed to feed off its fan base the entire game. As Matuszczak’s shot zipped past Wagner, the Bobcat fans erupted at the opening goal, just 1:20 into the game.
Perhaps the most impressive goal on the afternoon came at the 24:53 mark of the second half as Matuszczak sprinted on the breakout and passed the ball off to Laura Iannotti in front of the net. Iannotti took the pass, faked a shot to her left, spun right and zipped the shot to the lower-left corner for a 6-5 Quinnipiac lead.
This was the last lead for Quinnipiac, however, as the Pioneers reeled off five straight goals to take a commanding lead.
After another goal, with Sacred Heart leading 7-6, Wagner saved the lead and possibly the game with her save.
The Bobcats held the ball in the offensive zone and worked the ball around, with Wagner coming out of the net on her left side. Leaving the middle wide open, the pass was centered to the middle, and the shot was fired only to be denied by an outstretched Wagner. She corralled the save and prevented the rebound opportunity, while sending the Bobcat faithful in a state of disbelief.
Wagner shut the door on the Bobcats with her play at the end of the game. Out of the 27 Quinnipiac shot attempts, only seven made it passed her.
The Pioneer offense first struck a little more than six minutes in as Carissa Hauser connected with Jackie Pierce on back-to-back goals to give Sacred Heart the lead.
Latonick came right back for Quinnipiac as she controlled the ball behind the net and made a move around the net on Wagner’s right side. The defender gave her room to shoot, expecting a pass, and she ripped a goal into the upper-right corner of the net.
Sacred Heart answered again with a goal from Cori Horelik, who bounced the shot by Martello for a 3-2 lead. The differing styles early on proved to favor the Bobcats as they controlled the ball and waited for their shot while the Pioneers ooked for their shot early and often in their offensive zone. The Bobcats limited the Pioneer offense and took advantage of the opportunities when they were on the attack.
Quinnipiac evened the score again with Latonick recording her third point on the afternoon as she stole a Sacred Heart breakout pass and converted the turnover into a goal for a 3-3 tie.
After another Sacred Heart goal, the Bobcats converted a free position opportunity as Lyndsey Banach scored going to the lower-right corner of the goal, which tied it at 4 going into halftime.
Starting the second half, Quinnipiac came out with a purpose and put the Pioneers on their heels early on. Iannotti possessed the ball facing the net on a free position set, moved toward Wagner and ripped a shot at the feet of the goalkeeper that barley trickled over the goal line.
But the Pioneers always had an answer for the Bobcats, as they caused a Quinnipiac turnover off the draw control, and Horelik converted the free position goal.
Latonick, after helping or scoring the first three Quinnipiac goals, was limited to zero points the rest of the game. Matuszczak registered a goal and an assist, while Iannotti had two goals in defeat.
The Bobcats return 22 of 27 players from the 2010 squad as they hope to claim that ever elusive NEC title again next season.