JU Rolls Past Howard to Advance to NLC Semifinal

DAVIDSON, N.C. - Freshman Morgan Derner scored all four of her goals in the opening half to lead JU to a 22-7 victory over Howard in the quarterfinals of the National Lacrosse Conference Tournament on Friday at Richardson Stadium in Davidson, N.C.

Fellow freshman Angela Sperbeck tallied the first multi-goal game of her career, scoring twice off the bench to lift the top-seeded Dolphins into Saturday's semifinal round.

The Dolphins, which won for the ninth straight time in improving to 13-4, will face the winner of the Davidson-Liberty game tomorrow at 11:30 a.m.

JU beat the eighth-seeded Bison for the second time this season, advancing to the semifinal round for the second time in the two-year history of the program. Howard fell to 4-12.

"I thought we went in with a focus on playing our system and had a great first half with lots of good transitional looks," JU head coach Mindy McCord said.

Ellyn Spangenberg, Rachael Krell and Nikki Erdely also recorded two-goal games as reserves as the JU bench out-scored Howard's substitutes, 15-0. Fifteen Dolphins scored at least one goal. Desiree Cox and Courtland Lackey each scored three goals for Howard and Chastity Dailey added a goal to compete the Bison scoring output.

Sophomore goalie Karli Tobin made four saves for the Dolphins and Bison counterpart Amber Meeks registered 15 saves on facing 46 JU shots.

Derner's play off the opening draw control was a microcosm of the game's pace. Off the opening draw control, Derner took the ball from near midfield, raced in unmarked and fired a hard shot near the left post for a 1-0 just 11 seconds in.

Howard bounced back off Lackey's goal to tie it at 1. But that would be the only time Howard would not trail. JU responded with 13 consecutive goals to take a commanding 15-3 halftime lead.

"We were happy to get momentum there and focus on the quality of shooting and the execution of our transition," McCord said.

After Lackey's goal, Derner awoke JU out of the lull, causing a turnover from 20-yards out of the goal, taking possession and logging her second goal of the contest at 26:15.

Watts capitalized off another Howard turnover near midfield, dodging two defenders for her first goal and a 3-1 JU lead almost six minutes in.

Derner tallied her ninth hat trick of the season and needed just 8:04 into the contest to accomplish the feat. The attacker scored four goals on her first four shots now has 28 goals in her last seven games played and has a team-leading 44 goals overall. She already is the first 40-goal scorer in team history and has a chance to crack the 50-goal mark.

"Morgan's a tremendous athlete," McCord said. "Her ability to beat people one-on-one and her shot selection makes her one of the toughest players in the league to defend."

The Dolphins out-shot Howard, 46-15, and won 21 of 31 draw controls to establish time of possession control.

Defender Jessica Hotchkiss led a Dolphins unit that pressured Howard into committing 23 turnovers. Hotchkiss caused three turnovers to lead a defense that held Cox, who entered with 47 goals, to just one score in the opening half.

JU will now look to advance to the first NLC championship game in program history. The Dolphins beat Davidson, 13-9, on March 27 and Liberty, 23-4, on April 1 with both those games coming at Jacksonville.


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