Loria, late defense lift Stevens
Ducks' defense shuts out Ithaca in final 11 minutes
HOBOKEN, N.J. – Pamela Loria's tiebreaking goal with 6:10 left gave 10th-ranked and top-seeded Stevens (15-3) its second consecutive Empire 8 Championship with a thrilling 10-9 victory against third-seeded Ithaca (11-6). Ashley Carey spearheaded a Stevens defense that was relentless in both tournament wins and was named the Empire 8 Championship MVP.
The Ducks looked to be in control early after jumping out to a 6-2 lead in the first 20 minutes. Spencer Waybright (two goals), Loria (two goals), Leah Wasserman and Michelle Buonacuore had the Stevens goals in the early going.
But Ithaca was able to roar back in the final 10:13 of the first, outscoring the Ducks 5-1 to tie the game. Nicole Borisenok had two goals during the spurt and Tracy Rivas notched the equalizer with 3.2 seconds to play before intermission.
The second half saw neither team with more than a one-goal lead and was dominated by strong defense and goaltending. Waybright tallied her third goal of the game 8:35 into the second half to put the Ducks up one, but Borisenok answered 1:12 later to tie the score at eight.
After a Stevens turnover with 16:50 in regulation, Ithaca was trying to clear the zone but was unable to do so because Wasserman intercepted an outlet pass and buried her shot to once again give the Ducks the lead on what was a great play.
Borisenok tallied for the fourth time with 10:54 left to tie the game at nine, but Loria was able to put home the eventual game-winner with 6:10 to go after several dodges and moves. It was Loria’s third goal of the game and 40th of the season.
From that point on, the Ducks’ defense did not allow Ithaca to again ring the bell and Stevens was able to maintain possession for the final 2:23 of game time.
Meg Collins, who came on in the second half, was marvelous in goal for the Ducks. She made eight saves in her 30 minutes of action and picked up one ground ball. Five of her eight stops came on free-position attempts for the Bombers and her strong play visibly flustered the Ithaca attack.
Carey finished with three ground balls, three caused turnovers, and two draw controls to lead the Stevens defense. Kate Cox, Lindsay Daly and Teegan Kelly were all strong as well.
Waybright finished with three goals and a ground ball, while Loria tallied three times as well. Wasserman had two goals, one ground ball and one monster caused turnover, and Buonacuore had a goal and two assists. Kara Rafferty scored once, while Jenna Scheibling had an assist and two draw controls. Christine Smith also notched an assist, scooped up one ground ball, and played solid defense out of her midfield position.
Borisenok led Ithaca with four goals, while Katie Hurley had three. Rivas had two goals and two assists, and Ali DeCirce handed out a pair of helpers. Ithaca goalie Jess Worthmann had seven saves in a losing effort.
Ithaca ended with a 24-19 shot advantage, but the Ducks held a 14-9 ground ball margin. Ithaca was 1-for-9 on free-position attempts, while the Ducks were 0-for-1. The Bombers won 13-of-20 draw controls.
Stevens has now defeated Ithaca the last two years in the conference final and has won 19 of its last 20 games against Empire 8 opponents the last three years. The program will be making its third appearance in the NCAA’s.
NCAA.com will be broadcasting the NCAA Division III Women’s Lacrosse Championship Selection Show on Sunday at 9:30 p.m.