Gannon Thunders by Lake Erie to Win Home Opener

ERIE, Pa. Gannon began Friday's home opener with 10 consecutive goals and never looked back during a 22-8 victory against Lake Erie before a large crowd at Gannon University Field.

Gannon appeared focus from the outset, scoring 80 seconds into the contest on Kimberly Neagle's (Auburn, N.Y./Auburn) goal off an assist from Rachel DerCola (Rochester, N.Y./Brighton). It was the first of three consecutive assists by DerCola during the opening two minutes and 15 seconds. She later fed Stevie Lombardoni (Mexico, N.Y./Mexico) and Christie Valentine (Friendship, Md./Annapolis Area Christian) at the 28:06 and 27:45 marks for a 3-0 lead.

Head coach Lindsey Lowman's club produced a running clock when Neagle scored her third goal of the match, giving Gannon a 10-0 advantage 9:53 into the affair.

Lake Erie momentarily stopped the bleeding as Meredith Howe netted back-to-back goals in the span of 45 seconds to climb within 10-2. After a Gannon goal, she added a third score with 10:43 left in the half to bring the Storm within 11-3.

However, Gannon answered with four consecutive goals to regain the upper hand. Natalie Bonnepart (San Jose, Calif./Gunderson) netted her first goal of the season while Kirstin Bennehoof (Powell, Ohio/Olentangy Liberty) and Liz Algie (Adams, N.Y./South Jefferson Central) recorded their first career goals as four different Lady Knights scored during the run.

Amanda Sharbaugh (Sarver, Pa./Knoch) found the back of the net for the first time during her career with 3:36 showing on the clock, before Katie Hinsdale's (Arlington, Va./Yorktown) first score of the season gave Gannon a 17-4 lead and capped the first-half scoring.

The second half was played at a slower pace as Gannon produced a slight 5-4 scoring edge during the final 30 minutes. The Lady Knights accounted for the first three goals of the half, including Jenna Hughes' (Morgantown, W.Va./University) first score of the season that gave Gannon a 20-4 advantage with 19:40 to play.

Lake Erie and Gannon alternated consecutive goals the rest of the way. Miranda Walters (Pittsburgh, Pa./Shaler Area) and Lauren Hunt (Oswego, N.Y./Oswego) both recorded their first career goals during the final six and half minutes, before the final horn sounded with the Lady Knights earning a 22-8 victory.

Gannon out-shot Lake Erie 39-18, including a 25-7 edge during the first half. The Lady Knights also posted a commanding 22-10 advantage on draw controls, winning 17 of 22 during the first 30 minutes. The 22 goals were only four shy of the school's single-match scoring record set during a 26-6 victory against Mercyhurst on April 15, 1997.

Four different Lady Knights recorded their first career goal and eight netted their first score of the season. DerCola led the scoring attack with career-highs in assists (6) and points (8). Jess Fugate (Wooster, Ohio/Wooster) also dished out a career-high six assists while adding a goal for seven points.

Neagle led the Gannon in goals with four tallies and one assist. Valentine added her first career hat trick with three goals. Sarah Grzybinski (New Market, Md./Linganore) had two goals and three assists while winning 10 draw controls. Margaret Maslyn (Penn Yan, N.Y./Penn Yan Academy) needed only eight saves in goal for the Lady Knights.

Gannon improved to 2-3 with Friday's victory. Lake Erie dropped to 3-2. The Lady Knights open Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) play Tuesday, March 20 against Slippery Rock at Gannon University Field. Game time is scheduled for 7:00 p.m.


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