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Somerset, NJ -- The 2012 Northeast Conference (NEC) Women’s Lacrosse Tournament will begin on Friday, April 27 at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, CT. In the semifinals, top-seed Sacred Heart takes on #4 seed Mount St. Mary's at 1:00 pm, followed by #2 seed Quinnipiac against #3 seed Monmouth at 3:30 pm. The championship match is slated for Sunday, April 29 at 1:00 pm. The winner of the NEC championship will receive the league’s automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament and take on the CAA Champion in a play-in game on a date to be determined.
2012 NEC Women’s Lacrosse Championships
Hosted by Sacred Heart University
Friday, April 27
#1 Sacred Heart (8-8, 7-2 NEC) vs.
#4 Mount St. Mary's (7-10, 6-3 NEC), 1:00 pm
#2 Quinnipiac (8-7, 7-2 NEC) vs.
#3 Monmouth (7-10, 6-3 NEC), 3:30 pm
The first semifinal matchup features Sacred Heart and Mount St. Mary’s. Sacred Heart earned the top-seed and a share of the regular season title in dramatic fashion as they earned a come from behind 10-9 victory of CCSU last Sunday. If the Pioneer’s had lost the game they would have missed the play-offs, but with the win earned the top seed with a 7-2 record, including a victory over number two Quinnipiac. The Mount has faced the Pioneer’s twice is post season action and the last time they were a fourth seed they upset the number one Monmouth Hawks 15-7 in 2003. On the other side of the bracket, pre-season favorite Quinnipiac looks to defend NEC crown while Monmouth returns to the play-off stage after missing the 2011 tournament.
Sacred Heart (8-8, 7-2)
For the third time in program history, the Sacred Heart Pioneers are the #1 seed in the Northeast Conference Tournament as they try to capture their fourth conference title in the last five seasons.
Regular season co-champions, the Pioneers enter the tournament having won five-straight NEC games and five of their last six contests. SHU battled their way to a 7-2 league mark, winning four NEC games by just a goal and a fifth by two goals. This past week junior Emily Pepe (East Quogue, NY/Westhampton) claimed her second NEC Player of the Week award thanks to a 14-point week in which she led the Pioneers past Bryant and CCSU and into the NEC Tournament. Pepe had a career-high six assists and eight points in the win over Central Connecticut. The junior attacker also set a new program record for assists in a season (43) which breaks the mark of 38 set by Mary Montesarchio during the 2008 campaign. She ranks second in the NEC in assists per game (2.69) and points per game (4.44). Senior Aurelie Pluijmakers (Freehold, NJ/Coltsneck) finished the regular season with 37 goals, ninth among NEC leaders (2.31). In her previous three years combined, Pluijmakers had a combined 10 goals. Senior Kate Kmiotek (Farmingville, NY/Sachem East) finished the regular season with 20 goals and 20 assists. The 20 helpers ranks eight among NEC leaders (1.25) while sophomore Kelsey Russo (Linderhurst, NY/Linderhurst) has been an all-around threat for the Pioneers, posting 29 goals, four assists, 56 draw wins, 35 grounders and 20 caused turnovers after making the move from attack to midfield this season. She ranks third in the NEC in draw controls (3.73) and is second in the NEC in 8-meter goals with 13 (13-24). Freshman Kelly Keenan (Wantagh, NY/Wantagh) has been a force between the pipes for the Pioneers ranking third in the conference in save percentage (.450) while posting an even 8-8-0 record and making 153 saves on the year. The New York native has also corralled 46 ground balls, which ranks her fourth in the league. She earned NEC Defensive Player of the Week honors in late March after a 17-save weekend.
Quinnipiac (8-7, 7-2 NEC)
After claiming a share of the regular season NEC title, the Bobcats will take on Monmouth in the first round of the NEC tournament as they look to defend their conference crown. Despite dropping their final game of the season to Bryant, the Bobcats have played well throughout the season and are no strangers to the NEC tournament as this represents their ninth consecutive trip to the conference tournament with the last seven coming under the guidance of Danie Caro, who, since 2008 has coached the team to a 37-6 NEC record, the best mark in the conference in that time frame.
The Bobcats sport a high-powered midfield trio made up of reigning NEC Player of the Year Marissa Caroleo (North Babylon, NY/North Babylon), 2011 NEC Tournament MVP Devon Gibney (Hopkinton, MA/Hopkinton) and freshman Kyra Ochwat (Farmingdale, NY/Farmingdale), who has collected NEC Rookie of the Week honors three times. Gibney leads Quinnipiac in draw controls (54), ground balls (27), caused turnovers (19) and also registered a point in 14 of 15 games this season to finish the regular season with 30 points. Most recently Gibney broke the program record for draw controls as she corralled number 148 last Friday. Caroleo has had another stellar season for the Bobcats, leading the team in goals (45) this spring as she recorded a point in every game and multiple points in 14 of 15 games. Her 3.00 goals per game average ranks second in the conference. Ochwat ranks first among league freshman in goals (31) and points (38), has registered a point in all but one game for the Bobcat’s this season, putting up multiple points in 10 of 15. Sarah Allen (Glastonbury, CT/Glastonbury) and defender Kim Davis (Darien, CT/Darien) also play critical roles for the Bobcats. Allen currently leads the nation in assists (64) and assists per game (4.57) and is ranked ninth in points per game (4.86). The junior leads the conference in assists and points per game and earlier this season broke the program record at the Q for assists as well as the NEC assist record. At the other end of the field Davis leads a Bobcat defense that ranks third in the league in goals against (11.40). The senior has tallied 16 ground balls this season as well as 14 caused turnovers, both of which rank her in the top-five on the team.
Monmouth (7-10, 6-3)
The Hawks return to championship weekend after a year-long hiatus and are riding a head of steam after earning a 11-6 win over Mount St. Mary’s last weekend to earn the three seed in the tournament. Monmouth sports a team peppered with talent at both ends of the field. Kaleigh Gibbons (Candia, NY/Central) and Sam Lillo (Short Hills, NJ/Milburn) lead up the offense, while Gianna D’Urso (Fairfield, NJ/West Essex) and freshman goalkeeper Katie Donohoe (Peterborough, Ontario/Holy Cross Catholic Secondary) have been stalwarts on defense. Gibbons put together a solid sophomore season in West Long Branch as she led the team in assists (18) and finished third in ground balls (28) and draw controls (15). The middie also posted a point in all but one league game. Lillo has also been a major offense threat for the Hawks, posting a team best 35 goals and 32 draw controls in her senior season. She earned NEC Player of the Week honors April 16 after she tied a program record for goals in a game as she netted eight against league opponent Wagner. Defensively D’Urso , leads the team in ground balls (33) and caused turnovers (30) and has also been effective on the circle, tallying 14 draw controls on the season while in goal posted a team best 42 ground balls, and second best 16 caused turnovers. While Donohoe, the freshman keeper bookended her season with NEC Weekly honors earning Defensive Player of the Week to begin the season and Rookie of the Week honors to end the regular season.
Mount St. Mary’s (7-10, 6-3)
Fueled by redshirt sophomore Kaitlyn Larrimore (Pylesville, MD/North Harford), who leads the team with 30 goals and four assists for 34 points, the Mount will look to return to the championship game to avenge last year’s 15-3 loss to Quinnipiac. Freshman midfielder Erin Seipp (Towson, MD/Notre Dame Preparatory) and senior attacker Jen Semler (Baltimore, MD/Perry Hall) are tied for second on the team with 29 points. Seipp has 21 tallies and eight assists while Semler, a 2011 All-NEC first-team selection, has 19 goals and 10 assists. Senior Meaghan Conlon (Eldersburg, MD/Liberty) and Gabe Little (Hampstead, MD/North Carroll) pace the defense with 23 caused turnovers apiece. Little also leads the team with 24 ground balls while Conlon ranks second on the squad in draw controls (46) and fourth in ground balls (24). Sophomore Lindsay Diaz (Timonium, MD/Dulaney) leads the team with 57 draw controls while ranking third in both ground balls (26) and caused turnovers (16). Senior goalkeeper Brigid McTavish (Mount Airy, MD/South Carroll) has tallied 112 saves this season, a 11.43 goals against average and a .384 save percentage. Mount St. Mary's is making their 10th-straight trip and 14th conference tournament appearance overall. The Mount is 8-11 in the league postseason, including tournament crowns in 2004 and 2005. Mount St. Mary's is coach by second-year head coach B.J. Johnson, who has guided the squad to a 15-21 record in her two seasons.
2012 Head to Head Matchups
Sacred Heart (1-2) • Quinnipiac (2-1) • Monmouth (2-1) • Mount St. Mary’s (0-3)
Quinnipiac 12, Mount St. Mary’s • Hamden, CT • March 30
Monmouth 9, Sacred Heart 7• Fairfield, CT • March 30
Mount St. Mary’s 11, Sacred Heart 6 • Fairfield, CT • April 1
Quinnipiac 13, Monmouth 8 • Hamden, CT• April 1
Sacred Heart 10, Quinnipiac 9 • Fairfield, CT • April 13
Monmouth 11, Mount St. Mary’s 6 •West Long Branch, NJ • April 20
• All-time NEC Tournament records: Sacred Heart (7-7), Quinnipiac (5-7), Monmouth (12-10), Mount St. Mary’s (7-11),
• The only schools to win NEC lacrosse titles are UMBC (five), Monmouth (three), Sacred Heart (three) and Mount St. Mary’s (two), Quinnipiac (one).
• The top seed has won the NEC Tournament 11 out of 14 times. Second-seeded Monmouth struck gold in 2007, while Sacred Heart, also seeded second, won it in 2008. Former NEC member UMBC captured the crown in 2003 as the #2 seed.
• Sacred Heart (2008-10) and UMBC (1998-00) are the only NEC programs to win three consecutive NEC championships.
• The 2012 NEC All-Conference teams and major award winners will be announced on Thursday evening at a banquet held at the Trumbull Marriott near the campus of host Sacred Heart.
• Mount St. Mary’s now has upped their postseason appearance streak to ten straight. Quinnipiac has qualified nine straight times and Sacred Heart seven years in a row. Monmouth returns to the stage this season after missing the post-season last year. The Hawks had previously participated in all 13 NEC tournaments from 1998-2010.
• While Quinnipiac and Sacred Heart meet for the fourth consecutive year in postseason play, it isn’t the longest such streak in NEC history. UMBC and Monmouth faced off five straight years from 1998-02, while Monmouth and Mount St. Mary’s went head-to-head five consecutive seasons from 2003-07.