WNEC Posts Tough Win vs. Gordon in TCCC Semifinals

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. For the first time in its four years as a member of The Commonwealth Coast Conference (TCCC), Western New England is heading to the title game.

Freshman midfielder Kelsey Daniels (South Windsor, CT) led a balanced attack with four goals and an assist as the top-seeded Golden Bears posted a hard-earned 12-8 victory in the rain over fifth-seeded Gordon Wednesday afternoon (May 4).

This was the seventh consecutive victory for Western New England following an 11-9 regular season loss to the Fighting Scots back on April 9 in Wenham, Massachusetts.

Coach Aimee's Klepacki's squad is now 15-4 entering the conference championship contest against either Endicott or Curry Saturday (May 7). Those two teams are scheduled to meet later tonight.

Seven players scored points with junior midfielder Katie Toomy (Northborough, MA) contributing three goals and an assist, and senior attacker Jeanmarie Barbato (Huntington Station, NY) adding a pair of goals and assists.

Western New England overcame a slow start for the second straight time with a dominating defensive performance that held Gordon scoreless for 36-minutes. The Golden Bears ran off nine unanswered goals turning a 6-2 first-half deficit into an 11-6 advantage with 11:27 remaining in the game.

Senior goalie Marissa Bonitatibus (Yorktown Heights, NY) was a big part of the comeback bouncing back from a shaky beginning to finish with seven saves, including four in the second half with two coming from point-blank range.

The Golden Bears defense forced 26 turnovers as senior defender Nicole Poli (Medfield, MA) had a team-high five ground balls and two caused turnovers. Toomy picked-up three ground balls while junior midfielder Liz McRoberts (Bourne, MA) chipped-in with two ground balls and a team best three caused turnovers.

Gordon, which match its season high with 23 goals in its quarterfinal round win over fourth-seeded Roger Williams, scored two goals in the opening 1:22 following shots from junior midfielder Hala Coker (East Falmouth, MA) and freshman midfielder Anna Blomberg (Simsbury, CT).

Poli finally got the Golden Bears on the board with a goal at the 21:05 mark and Daniels tied the score with a free position shot 2:11 later.

The Fighting Scots reeled off four straight goals with three coming on free positions shots, including back-to-back scores by freshman midfielder Kari Christensen (Standish, ME), another by sophomore attacker Alana Woods (Medford, MA), and an unassisted goal by freshman attacker by Jocie Knaus (Kensington, CT) with 13:04 left in the half.

The Golden Bears didn't fold using goals by Kelsey and McRoberts in the final 8:50 to cut the margin to 6-4 at the break and

Western New England scored three more times in the opening 3:22 of the second half to take the lead for good at 7-6 when Barbato found the back of the net (with an assist from Daniels) with 26:28 left in the game.

Western New England had a 34-19 advantage in shots and 18-10 edge in ground balls.

Blomberg played a solid game finishing with two goals and four draw controls for the visitors while Woods had a goal and assist. Freshman midfielder Stephanie Fitzgerald (Groveland, MA) added a pair of assists along with a game-high nine draw controls as the Fighting Scots had a commanding 16-6 edge in that category. Freshman goalie Danielle Maguire (Braintree, MA) compiled 10 saves with seven coming in the opening 30 minutes.

Gordon ends its season with an 11-7 record.


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