BALTIMORE - The No. 14 Loyola University Maryland women’s lacrosse team clinched a bid to the 2012 Big East Tournament Sunday afternoon, downing Villanova, 20-9, on Senior Day at Ridley Athletic Complex.

With the win, Loyola improves to 10-4 this season, marking its 23rd 10-win season in program history and fourth-straight under head coach Jen Adams. The Greyhounds also moved to 6-0 in the BIG EAST to mark their best start in program history, while the six victories ties a school record for conference wins in a season.

Sophomore Marlee Paton led all players with six points on four goals and two assists Sunday, while 15 of the Greyhounds’ season-high 20 goals were scored by a member of the freshman class. Freshman Hannah Schmitt led the rookies with four goals, while classmate Annie Thomas had three goals and two assists. Freshmen Kara Burke and Molly Hulseman each tacked on two goals, and Sydney Thomas had one goal and two assists. Freshmen Elizabeth Barranco, Madison Formwalt and Julie Morse also tallied goals, while junior Ashley Cahill rounded out the scoring with one goal and three assists.

For Villanova (4-10, 2-4 BIG EAST), Justine Donodeo led the way with two goals and one assist, while Annie Fallon had one goal and a team-high two assists.

Loyola used a 7-0 run to break open an even 4-4 game midway through the first half. The Wildcats got on the board first at 27:32, but Loyola evened the score less than one minute later behind a goal from Schmitt, assisted by Paton.

Villanova regained its lead at 19:59, but another quick score from Schmitt knotted the game at 2-2 with 19:38 to play. Burke then gave Loyola its first lead at 19:12, scoring her first goal of the game, assisted by Annie Thomas. That assist for Thomas moved her season total to 20, breaking Janet Eisenhut’s freshman record of 19 set in 1980. She currently has 21 assists and ranks fourth in the program’s freshmen records with 51 points this season.

Following Burke’s score, Thomas snuck around the cage and slipped a goal of her own into the back of the net to give the Greyhounds a 4-2 lead with 18:24 to play.

The Wildcats would answer with back-to-back goals to tie the game at four, but that would be all the Greyhounds’ defense would allow for the half, as Loyola’s offense strung together seven-consecutive scores to take an 11-4 advantage into halftime. Paton and Schmitt each scored twice in the run, while Burke, Morse and Sydney Thomas also scored.

Out of the break, Loyola scored its eighth-consecutive goal when Cahill fired her first goal of the season into the back of the net with 29:02 left to play.

Villanova broke its scoreless streak at 27:15, but the Greyhounds tacked on two more scores from Hulseman and Schmitt to earn a 14-5 advantage by the 23:24 mark.

The Wildcats cut their deficit to seven with back-to-back goals, but another three-consecutive from the Greyhounds gave Loyola a 17-7 lead with 13:16 to play.

Villanova managed to score two more goals, but Formwalt and Barranco sandwiched their first career goals around Paton’s fourth goal of the game to close out the contest with a 20-9 win.

Defensively, Loyola’s senior class led the way with eight of the team’s 15 ground balls and they combined for nine of the 11 caused turnovers. Senior Kellye Gallagher had a game-high five ground balls and four caused turnovers, while Virginia Weber had one ground ball and two caused turnovers. Senior Ana Heneberry finished the game with two caused turnovers and senior goalkeeper Kerry Stoothoff added two ground balls and one caused turnover to five saves. 

On the draw, the Greyhounds won a season-high 22 draw controls, led by Hulseman and Sydney Thomas. Hulseman won a career-best six draws, while Thomas had a personal-best five. Junior Ashley Moulton, Gallagher and Paton also won two each.