April 27, 2009

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. - The UMass women's lacrosse team captured the Atlantic 10 Championship and a berth in the NCAA Tournament with a 15-14 thrilling overtime win over Saint Joseph's on Sunday afternoon. Jackie Lyons scored the overtime game-winner to send UMass to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1985. Lyons was named the A-10 Tournament Most Valuable Player after she posted five goals and three assists for seven points. Meghan Reddy and Stephanie Hopkins both had hat tricks with three goals apiece.

Along with Lyons, Holly Drown, Reddy, and Merritt Cosgrove were named to the A-10 All-Tournament Team.

The Minutewomen (11-7) have now won nine of their last eight games en route to the NCAA Berth. Saint Joseph's falls to 10-8 on the season.

Saint Joseph's controlled play in much of the first half taking a 11-6 lead into halftime despite UMass having an overwhelming 17-to-1 advantage on draw controls. The Hawks forced the Minutewomen into 10 turnovers in the frame and scored on all but three of their shots.

After the game was tied 3-3 with 18:23 remaining, Saint Joseph's scored seven consecutive goals to go up 10-3 with 3:29 remaining.

UMass scored three straight thanks to Cosgrove, Danielle Pelletier and Lyons to pull within four with 1:44 left. Saint Joseph's Jessica Westlake scored with 12 seconds remaining in the half to go up 11-6.

In the second half, the two teams traded goals to open play with Westlake keeping the five-goal margin, 13-8, with 21:11 remaining in regulation.

Hopkins started a four-goal run for the Minutewomen with Lyons scoring back-to-back goals making it a one-goal game 13-12 with 14:01 to play.

A Helene Tursi goal gave the Hawks a two-goal lead nearly two minutes later, but Reddy and Lyons both found the net in the final 8:15 to tie the game 14-14.

In the overtime period, neither team scored in the first half, but UMass was able to gain control after freshman netminder Katie Florence made one of her three OT saves. Lyons scored a free position goal with eight seconds remaining for the game-winner. Reddy won the ensuing draw control and was fouled hard on a cross check with five seconds to play. On the restart, Reddy stepped back and then heaved the ball high into the air towards the Saint Joseph's goal as the clock ran out and the team stormed the field.

Reddy finished the game with a career-high tying 12 draw controls which is the third most for a single game in NCAA history. UMass' 28 draw controls was a single-game record for an A-10 Tournament game, while the 41 draw controls was a championship series record.

UMass finished the game with a 30-to-26 shot advantage and a 28-to-6 draw control advantage. Saint Joseph's won the groundball battle 21-to-10 and forced 20 UMass turnovers while committing just 11.

Florence finished the game with seven saves, while Hawks goalie Suzy Herlihy had six.

Westlake finished the game with a team-high four goals and one assist. Tursi had three goals and an assist as did Jenna Martino.

With her 12 draw controls, Reddy now has 123 for her career which is a new UMass career record. Her 77 this season is a UMass single-season record. UMass senior defender Jackie Rosenzweig (2 caused turnovers) started her 71st consecutive game which is also a UMass career record.

The 11 wins for UMass are the most since 2003, while the A-10 Championship is the first for UMass since 2000. This will be the fifth time UMass has made the NCAA Tournament: 1982 (Champions), 1983 (Semifinals), 1984 (semifinals), 1985 (Quarterfinals).