Merrimack downs Adelphi for a chance to win first conference title
NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. -- Guided by a pair of first-half goals and a game-high five points from senior forward April Daugherty, fourth-ranked and top-seeded Merrimack downed visiting fourth-seeded Adelphi 6-0 in the Northeast-10 Conference Tournament Semifinals on Saturday at Martone-Mejail Field.
Improving to 16-2 overall, the Warriors won their ninth consecutive match and next play conference rival UMass-Lowell for a chance to claim their first-ever NE-10 Tournament title Sunday in the championship game. Adelphi, meanwhile, sees its season end with an overall record of 8-12.
After the opening 30 minutes, Merrimack exploded for three goals in the span of three minutes. Senior Jamie Spano put the home side on the board with her fourth goal of the season to break the scoreless draw. Then, Daugherty notched back-to-back strikes in just over two minutes, as the Warriors took a 3-0 lead into the break.
Thanks to several saves from Bergquist earlier in the first half on Adelphi's few scoring chances, the game remained scoreless heading into the final five minutes. That was when junior Jessica Otis sent a long cross to Spano, who buried it into the left side of the cage to put Merrimack on the board at 31:12 of the first half.
Just over a minute later, Daugherty notched her 19th goal of the season after picking up a loose ball and firing a shot into the right side of the net. Before the half ended, the all-time leading scorer for the program struck again. Waldie and Jen Otis helped set up a scoring play on a penalty corner, allowing Daugherty to bury her second score of the game to wrap up the half.
Merrimack controlled the first frame with a 17-7 edge in shot attempts, while Bergquist notched five saves compared to seven for Puzio. The Warriors also held a commanding 7-2 lead in penalty corners in the first 35 minutes of action.
Merrimack pushed ahead with three more goals in the second half, as junior Candace Waldie, Otis and freshman Katrina Squeri each found the back of the cage to account for the final margin of victory.
Senior goalkeeper Kerri Bergquist had a seven-save performance for the home side, while visiting netminder Kristine Puzio turned aside 11 shots for Adelphi.
In total, the Warriors outshot Adelphi by a 28-12 margin and owned a 9-4 lead in penalty corners.
"Great team victory for us against a tough Adelphi squad," head coach Anne Rounce said afterward. "We'll have to bring our A-game against a very talented UMass-Lowell team [Sunday]."