Gannon Falls in Slugfest with No. 9 West Chester

ERIE, Pa. The Gannon-West Chester match-up was one in the making for two days after Friday's originally-scheduled contest was postponed due to lightning and Sunday's affair did not disappoint. Two of the region's top clubs battled to almost a dead heat in every statistical category, before ninth-ranked West Chester escaped a chilly Gannon University Field Sunday afternoon with a 17-14 victory.

Sunday's contest had multiple waves of momentum swings. After West Chester scored the first two goals, Sarah Grzybinski (New Market, Md./Linganore) answered with two of her own scores to knot the match at two at the 22:21 mark.

West Chester, ranked ninth in the latest Intercollegiate Women's Lacrosse Coaches Association (IWLCA) Top 15 Poll, seemed to take control with a 7-1 run that gave the Golden Rams a 9-3 advantage with 6:19 left in the first half. Erin Oczkowski ignited the run with four consecutive goals during the span of 99 seconds.

When Gannon was able to regain its footing, it did so in impressive fashion. Jess Fugate (Wooster, Ohio/Wooster) stemmed the tide with back-to-back goals. It started a rally of five straight Gannon goals to end the half. Christine Valentine (Friendship, Md./Annapolis Area Christian) and Caitlyn Fisher (Cypress, Texas/Cy-Fair) followed with scores, before Kimberly Neagle's (Auburn, N.Y./Auburn) tally with 30 seconds left sent the Lady Knights into the intermission trailing 9-8, but with all the momentum.

West Chester wasted little time regaining the upper hand after the break, ending its scoring drought of seven minutes and29 seconds on Lauren Glassey's goal 1:50 into the second half. Head coach Ginny Martino's halftime speech must have been a good one as the Golden Rams went on to score the first five goals and eight of the first nine in the second half.

Another Glassey goal with 15:26 remaining gave West Chester a 17-9 lead and again seemed to put the match away. But again, Gannon responded. The Lady Knights shut out the Golden Rams for the final 15 minutes and 26 seconds. In the process, Gannon rattled off five straight goals to put a scare into the nation's ninth-ranked team.

Rachel DerCola (Rochester, N.Y./Brighton) and Stevie Lombardoni (Mexico, N.Y./Mexico) netted two goals each during the late rally. Lombardoni's free-position score with 59 seconds left brought the Lady Knights within 17-14 and Fisher won the ensuing draw control. However, West Chester took the ball back with 35 seconds left after a Gannon turnover and never relinquished possession.

Gannon held slight advantages in shots (30-28) and draw controls (18-15). West Chester turned the ball over one less time (16-15) and both teams finished with 26 ground balls. The Lady Knights were 5 of 7 on free-position shots while the Golden Rams finished 0 for 2.

Seven different Lady Knights scored during a balanced scoring attack. Fugate led the way with three goals and two assists. Grzybinski tied Fugate for team-high in goals with three. Fisher finished with two goals and two assists while serving as one of Gannon's feeders.

DerCola recorded two goals and one assist. Lombardoni chipped in a pair of scores. Valentine and Neagle completed the scoring with one goal each. Margaret Maslyn (Penn Yan, N.Y./Penn Yan Academy) made seven saves for the second consecutive day between the pipes, including six during the first 30 minutes.

Gannon, which was among others receiving votes in the latest IWLCA national rankings, dropped a 5-4 overall and 3-1 in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) while seeing its four-match win streak come to an end. West Chester improved to 6-1 overall and 4-1 in conference action after finishing a perfect two-match road trip to Erie. The Lady Knights return to action Tuesday, April 3 at East Stroudsburg. Game time is scheduled for 4:00 p.m.

2012-04-01



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