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Saints throttle past second-seeded Misericordia to claim program's first ECAC DIII Championship

Saints throttle past second-seeded Misericordia to claim program's first ECAC DIII Championship

GALLOWAY, N.J. – History was made on Sunday afternoon in several categories for the fifth-seeded Marymount (Va.) University women's lacrosse team, throttling past second-seeded Misericordia University in the ECAC DIII Championship, 11-3, to collect the program's first ECAC title. 

"I'm beyond excited for us, and I believe no one is more deserving than this group," Head Coach Kate Athing said. "Everything we did on and off the field was to meet this goal, and for us to accomplish that together made this very powerful." 

Additionally, the final win of the season marked the 13th for the year, moving the 2017 squad to the most wins in a single season in program history. 

"Grabbing that type of accolade on top of the championship shows what type of dedication we have in this program as well," added Athing. 

Each game in the tournament, the Saints were marked as the underdog when it came to seeding, But for the third-straight time on Sunday, Marymount didn't back down from the challenge. Although the first two games in the tournament panned out to be just one-goal difference, a strong second half made Sunday's championship game much different. 

To get to the final 30 minutes involved a tight first half that saw the Saints take just a 4-2 advantage into the break. An early man-up opportunity had sophomore Bridgette Stacom notch her first of a hat trick of goals for the day on a free-position shot to give Marymount a 1-0 lead. 

However, the Cougars answered with two straight to take their only lead of the game by the 16:20 mark, 2-1, before the Saints started heating up. In the second half of the first period, MU tightened up on the defensive half of the field, which fed into the offense. 

By the end of the half, Marymount found the back of the net three more times off two free-position goals by junior Abby Wescott and Stacom, while senior Natalie Tinkham fed sophomore Kelly Campbell for the finish on another man-up opportunity. 

A few adjustments at the half had the Saints geared up for a strong 30 minutes to close out the game, putting away seven more goals while holding the Cougars to just one. 

Coming out of the break, MU picked up where it left off in the first half with four-straight goals. Wescott, Stacom, sophomore Jessica Crew, and junior Kellen Cannon each scored in the stretch before Misericordia halted the run with its lone goal of the half. 

In the closing 10 minutes, the Saints fired off three more, two from Cannon and one by Campbell, to seal up the 11-3 victory. 

"In the second half, the offense calmed down and was really able to find each other and adjust to the pressure that was being applied," Athing said. "But, the defense really anchored the team and set the tone of the game, especially Holly (Reik) who had another big game for us in the goal." 

Sophomore goalkeeper Holly Reik totaled another nine saves for the afternoon, registering 28 through the three games in the tournament. For the year, she made 166 saves and earned 11 wins in the net. 

On the offensive end, Wescott and Cannon led the way with a game-high four points apiece. Stacom, who just came off a three-goal semifinal game, tacked on another hat trick on Sunday. 

At the end of the championship, the ECAC announced the All-Tournament team, seeing Stacom, Wescott, Cannon, Reik, Crew, and junior Liah Agouras all make appearances. 

Crew, who finished with an 11-point tournament off 10 goals and an assist, was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player. 

"Jess had a great season, but she peaked at the right time," Athing mentioned about her sophomore attacker. "Not only did she put up points for us this week, but she communicates very well and was the driving piece in our team this year. She deserved this recognition, and it meant a lot to our team for someone so selfless and hardworking to be recognized." 

The Saints conclude the 2017 campaign with a 13-6 record, the second-straight year with double-digit victories.   

"Going into next year, this is going to propel us to continue to get better and get back into postseason play," Athing added on another successful year for the team. "For our young team to be able to get a taste of a championship is what we need to take it to the next level. "