UAlbany Blitzes Binghamton to Win 8th Straight

Albany, N.Y. Christine Grueniger equaled a career-high with five goals, all in the first half, in leading UAlbany to a 24-3 America East Conference victory over Binghamton on Saturday afternoon at John Fallon Field. The Great Danes have won a school-record eight a row.

UAlbany (8-1, AE 2-0) connected on 11 of its first 13 shots en route to a 10-goal lead midway through the opening half. The Great Danes led 2-1, but then scored four times in a two-minute-and-28-second span to pull away. Taylor Frink, who totaled two goals and four assists, drove from behind the cage and spun to her left shoulder to start that outburst. Kayla Best converted Nikki Branchini's pass against a defensive double-team, before Grueniger added a pair. The senior attacker made a free-position shot from the left side and then scored in transition by working around a defender.

The Great Danes, who tied the school's Division I single-game scoring record, built an 18-1 cushion by halftime. Melanie Sosnowski tallied four of her five goals in the period, including a driving shot with 2.5 seconds remaining before the break after Grueniger won the draw.

"We kept moving the ball and executing our plays," explained Grueniger, who also scored five times against Niagara as a freshman. "Our goal is to win the first ten minutes of each half. Winning is fun."

UAlbany did not let up in the early stages of the second half by scoring four unanswered in the opening eight minutes of the period. Olivia Jarem, a senior midfielder who accounted for three goals and two assists, placed a shot inside the right point after a clearing play and then set up Sosnowski for another tally.

Julie Bush, who came off the bench to add three goals and one assist, netted back-to-back shots, including the first when she caused a turnover on a clearing attempt and hit an empty net. Branchini, who dominated the draw with a career-high 14 controls, fed Bush on her second goal.

"Draw controls are important and help with time of possession," offered Branchini, who scored once and assisted on two more. "It's about reacting to the whistle, getting low, boxing out and placing the ball to your teammates. You are not always going to get it (the draw) yourself."

Binghamton (0-8, AE 0-2) was led by junior attacker Ali Castiglie, who netted two goals. Beth Moore added one goal and one assist. Mel Rorie and Kayla Best each scored twice for the Great Danes, who have won their opening two conference game for the first time.

"We were relatively disciplined and stuck to the game plan," said UAlbany coach Lindsey Hart, whose opponent dropped a three-goal decision to defending America East champion Boston University one week ago. "We had told them that this was not a team that you can take for granted. We established ourselves early."


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